Program Structure


  1. For students to practice Arabic (both MSA and dialect) with Arabic speaking students at NYUAD and in the wider Emirati community.
  2. To strengthen students’ skills in the areas of listening, speaking, writing, and reading.
  3. To incorporate students in heritage-related activities in the UAE.
  4. To acquaint students with diverse Arab cultures through travel to other Arab nations.
  5. To encourage student participation in as many activities as possible.

Experiential Learning

Language and cultural immersion are an essential part of studying Arabic at NYUAD. Experiential learning is built into courses at all levels, designed to balance the theoretical knowledge students gain in class with the experiences they need to practice Arabic. It provides them with opportunities to interact and develop their spoken Arabic in the local community.

Experiential learning activities happen throughout the semester in a variety of locations in Abu Dhabi and other emirates. They include film screenings, performances, social gatherings, and trips to festivals and museums.

Experiential Learning Activities Details
Arabic film screenings Arabic films from various eras and on different subjects, screened on and off campus. Watching and reflecting on the films strengthens students’ skills in listening and writing.
The Ta'arafu Program
A program that creates opportunities for communication between Arabic students and UAE citizens, through home visits and excursions.
Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival An Emirati heritage festival that promotes and educates about Emirati national identity, heritage, and tradition, and highlights the role of Sheikh Zayed, founder of the United Arab Emirates.
Qasr Al Hosn Heritage Festival An Emirati heritage festival that promotes and educates about Emirati national identity, heritage, and tradition, and highlights the history of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival A festival that celebrates motherhood, family, and cultural diversity in the UAE through activities, games, visual and performing arts, and food.

Regional Travel

We regularly take our mid-to-advanced students on trips to other countries in the Arabic-speaking world to expose them to the diverse cultures and traditions of Arab societies. Itineraries include tours, lectures, and meetings over five days which allow students to apply what they have learned in new contexts outside of the classroom. Travel destinations have included Jordan, Oman, and Morocco.

J-Term in Al Ain

A people's dialect is a representation of their identity and a reflection of their cultural life. For three weeks in January, students who minor in Arabic will get to experience the unique aspects that make the Emirati dialect so lively and distinctive. NYUAD's J-Term course is taught in Al Ain, and the Arabic-only speaking environment serves as a gateway to accessing intimate aspect of life, culture, and heritage of the Gulf region.


For three weeks we slept and breathed Arabic; I even dreamed in Arabic.

Moonie Sohn, Class of 2017

An essential part of this course is the Arabic-only environment in which students operate for the duration of the course. Students sign an education contract before leaving for Al Ain agreeing to speak only Emirati dialect from the time they leave Abu Dhabi to the time they return.

The Emirati Dialect J-Term course is academically centered around the textbook Ramsah, written by NYUAD professor Nasser Isleem. The intermediate course is designed to provide students with the strongest possible foundation in Emirati dialect, with the focus of the course being conversational. Students concentrate on listening and speaking, which reflects the oral nature of dialect in general.


Arabic students are presented with a large variety of assessments, including quizzes, skits, interviews, daily oral homework, film analysis, a final oral exam, and extra credit for reading an Emirati novel. The Emirati culture is a large component of these assessments, and students are encouraged to engage with the community in many of their oral and written assignments.