Cultural Understanding

Being Comfortable Among Different Cultures

During your four years with NYU Abu Dhabi as an undergraduate, you will have many opportunities to attend cultural programs and activities. By the time you graduate, you will have had lots of exposure to different cultures. Our hope is that you will also gain a greater sense of curiosity, flexibility, empathy and authenticity in your intercultural encounters.

Being in Abu Dhabi is also a great chance to grow your knowledge about the country and the Middle East region. Besides traveling and being exposed to different cultures, engaging in reflective activities and exploring different perspectives can increase cultural competence.

Islam is the official religion of the United Arab Emirates, but there are places of worship available for you to practice your faith and religion.

Drawing of the UAE flag on the hand of a lady.

Intercultural Programs

NYUAD has the distinction of an incredibly diverse community of students, faculty, and staff from all over the world. Within this context there are opportunities for our undergraduate students to grow and develop crucial interpersonal skills.

Programs Details
Cultural Events

Learn about different cultures through your schoolmates.

For each event, we invite students from a certain country or culture to share more about where they are from.

Intercultural Learning Program (ICLP)

An opportunity to explore cultural competence frameworks and develop greater cultural fluency.
Sustained Dialogue

An opportunity to explore different perspectives and deepen community conversation about relevant topics.

Formal Greetings

There are many ways of greeting a person in the UAE. Some men and women choose not to shake hands upon meeting, which should not be considered an insult or offensive. It is generally more polite to begin with a verbal greeting, and to then allow the person you are greeting to indicate whether hand shaking is welcome.

Local Dress

Emirati women can often be seen wearing their abaya, typically a long garment, with a shayla or hijab to cover their head. You may occasionally see them wearing a veil called the burqa, that covers areas of their eyebrows, nose, and mouth. Emirati men may wear a kandura (an ankle-length long white garment) with a ghutra on their head.

A student in class at NYU Abu Dhabi.

What to Pack

Out of respect for the local culture and customs, both men and women typically refrain from wearing revealing clothing. Dressing modestly in a sign of respect for the culture and is especially important during Ramadan (the Islamic Holy Month). There is no requirement for women to cover their heads unless visiting a mosque.


Be aware of local laws when taking photographs in public. Taking photos of restricted areas (such as military areas, palaces, or government buildings) may result in a fine or jail time. You must also have permission before taking photos of others.