Alya Al Zeyoudi

It was around 9 pm on a random Tuesday so I went back to my dorm, and I had already
completed all of my work. I texted a friend to ask if she wanted to go out to watch a movie. She immediately replied with “Let’s go” and then recommended a movie that started in 45 minutes. We were off.

On the way, she mentioned that this would be her first time going to the cinema. I was shocked to hear that because, as a visual person, the cinema is my safe place and I wrongly assumed this was just a common experience. That’s when I made sure that she would have the best visit ever. I was so happy that she told me she really enjoyed the experience after the credits rolled. We’ve gone back many times over the years.

As an Emirati studying at NYUAD, I had a lot of classes where I was the only local enrolled. On
several occasions, I was asked about my culture when it came to the food, music, clothes, etc. I
will never forget when we had a few visits around Abu Dhabi and Dubai and the professor asked
me to rate an Emirati dish called “Harees” in literally every restaurant we went to. Or when I
asked my roommate if she wanted some Vimto during Ramadan, she didn’t know what I was
talking about. Or when people reach out to me to ask where they can get their first abaya in
Abu Dhabi, so I join them on a trip to the city.

Even when we’re abroad the “Warqa” game is with us so we can have fun in our free time. It’s been a real pleasure and source of pride to share my city, and Emirati culture with so many people from around the world.