NYU Abu Dhabi, which welcomed its inaugural class in 2010, was established in partnership with NYU and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and founded upon a shared understanding of the essential roles and challenges of higher education in the 21st century.

Shared principles include: 

  • a common belief in the value of a liberal arts education;
  • concurrence on the benefits a research university brings to the society that sustains it; 
  • a conviction that interaction with new ideas and people who are different is valuable and necessary; 
  • and a commitment to educating students who are true citizens of the world.


2007 November — NYU Abu Dhabi project is announced and will be the first elite, comprehensive liberal arts, sciences, and engineering university in Abu Dhabi to be operated by a leading American research university.

September — Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars Program (SMSP) for talented Emirati university students begins.

October — First NYU Abu Dhabi Institute event held.


March — Saadiyat Island campus Master Plan approved. 

October — Prospective students visit Abu Dhabi for the inaugural Candidate Weekend.

November — Opening of 19 Washington Square North, NYU Abu Dhabi’s home in New York City. 

December — Dedication of interim Downtown Campus in the heart of Abu Dhabi.


February — First research grants are announced for: The Library of Arabic Literature; Neuroscience of Language Lab; and Center for Technology and Economic Development.

September — Classes start. Downtown Campus welcomes 148 students to the inaugural class.


June — Construction of new campus begins on Saadiyat Island.

July — Summer Academy program for talented Emirati high school students.

September — Second year of classes start, 161 students join the Class of 2015.

November — Completion of the foundations of the Saadiyat Island campus.


February — NYUAD co-creates the first ever intercollegiate sports league in the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Inter-University Sports League (ADISL), that now has nine universities and over 600 participating students, 56 percent of which are Emirati, across 14 different sports.

August — All key structures of the Saadiyat Island campus are completed.

September — Third year of classes start, 151 students join the Class of 2016. 

December — Library of Arabic Literature publishes its first volume: A Library of Arabic Literature Anthology.


April — NYU Abu Dhabi student named 2013 Truman Scholar, one of the United States’ most prestigious undergraduate scholarships.

September — Fourth year of classes start, 174 students join the Class of 2017.

November — NYU Abu Dhabi student wins Rhodes Scholarship, the oldest and the most prestigious international scholarship program in the world; the first time the award has been won by a student from an institution yet to have a graduating class.


February — Two NYU Abu Dhabi students win inaugural Falcon Scholarships (now Rhodes Scholarships) to study at Oxford University.

May — NYU Abu Dhabi graduates its first class.

September — 2,400 people living and working on campus. Fifth year of classes start, 263 students join the Class of 2018. Emirati students represent the largest nationality group in the incoming class. 

November — The NYUAD Art Gallery opens with inaugural exhibition.

December — NYU Abu Dhabi student announced as the recipient of the 2015 Falcon Scholarship (now Rhodes Scholarship) to study at Oxford University.


January— Internationally-renowned science journal, Nature, rates NYUAD first in the UAE for ‘high-impact’ science articles, more than all other local universities combined.

September — Fifth year of classes start. 299 students join the Class of 2019. 

December — NYU Abu Dhabi student announced as Rhodes Scholar  — the sixth from NYUAD to win the award.


June — First Emirati student from NYUAD awarded a Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship.

September — Sixth year of classes start, NYUAD welcomes 323 students to the Class of 2020. 

November — Two NYUAD students names as Rhodes Scholars, marking the seventh and eighth Rhodes Scholars from NYU Abu Dhabi in four years.

2017 September —  Class of 2021 arrives.

November — Two NYUAD students named as Rhodes Scholars, marking the ninth and tenth Rhodes Scholars from NYU Abu Dhabi in five years.

August — Class of 2022 arrives.

November — Two NYUAD students named as Rhodes Scholars, marking the eleventh and twelfth Rhodes Scholars from NYU Abu Dhabi in six years. 

December — Two NYUAD students named as Schwarzman Scholars.

2019 August — Class of 2023 arrives.