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Study in the UAE

Graduate programs in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates might be a small country, but it is made up of seven rapidly expanding states all with their own culture, education and environment. This is a place of contrasts – where tribal cultures coincide along some of the most rapidly developing cities in the world.Study in the UAE

However, beyond the skyscrapers and villas, the world famous DJs and brand shops, there still exists a country founded a traditional Islamic values and village life. From Sharjah to Abu Dhabi to Dubai – where will you choose to study a graduate program in the UAE?

Population: 8,265,000

Education overview

The UAE is rapidly developing its education infrastructure, with aims to be one of the world’s premier providers of graduate education in the coming years. The country current splits its universities between three state funded institutions and more than 50 private universities. The three state-funded universities where you can study a graduate program in the UAE are:

Some of the private institutions that you can study a graduate program at in the UAE include:

Many international universities also choose to base campuses in the UAE.

Course fees in the UAE are assessed in semester credit hours, with each course being made up of a certain number of credits. You should check how many credits you need to complete the graduate program you’ve chosen.

Immigration and visas in the UAE

A student visa is mandatory for study in the United Arab Emirates, with most visas only issued for a single year at a time. However, these can then be renewed. You will also need a sponsor within the UAE – if you have no relatives or contacts in the country, your university should be able to sponsor you.

As a guide, you should expect to have to show the following:

  • A confirmed place at an approved institution
  • A letter of sponsorship from the university
  • Funds to support yourself during your studies
  • A clean medical examination report from an approved UAE centre

You should always check the relevant details required to study in the UAE from your country of origin.

Life in the UAE

The UAE has a relatively tolerant and open society for the Middle East, with a mixed population. Indeed, only an estimated 20% of the population are native Emiratis, with the rest made up of expats from Asia, Europe and North America.

As a Muslim country, you are expected to dress conservatively, refrain from public displays of affection and only drink alcohol in allowed places. However, the UAE, and in particular the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi is building a reputation as a tourist destination. This means there are many shopping malls, beaches, sporting events and cultural activities to do.

Be aware that most leisure activities take place in the evening due to how hot it is during the day.

Working in the UAE

The UAE is a wealthy country with plenty of growth, largely down to its exports of natural resources such as petroleum and natural gas. The country has been spending billions on its infrastructure, particularly in the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with both becoming tourist destinations in their own rights.

International students are currently not allowed to work part-time in the UAE, but you can transfer your study permit to a work visa if you get a job after graduation.


Accommodation in the UAE is not cheap, particularly in major cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. There are two main options for housing when studying a graduate program in the UAE:

  • University accommodation – such as halls of residence
  • Private accommodation – House and flat rentals

Most international students coming to study in the UAE will live on campus in university accommodation. This is almost exclusively true for students from international universities who have programs based in the UAE. The benefits of university accommodation include being able to meet other students easily, not have to worry about bills and live close to your lecture halls – a definite bonus in such a hot country.

Climate in the UAE

The UAE’s climate is subtropical, with hot, dry summers and warm winters. The country is at its hottest between July and August, when temperatures can regularly reach above 45C. The main winter months are between January and February, but even then you should expect temperatures of around 22C.

The UAE is prone to dust storms and very occasional torrential rain, which can lead to flash flooding in cities.


Most students in the UAE will get around by car, which is by far the most popular form of transport. Driving licences are available to anyone aged 18 or over and women are allowed to drive. However, traffic jams are frequent in many of the UAE’s cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The UAE has a very limited rail network, but metro systems are in operation in Dubai with plans to build one in Abu Dhabi.


The currency of the UAE is the dirham. 

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