NYU Abu Dhabi Announces 2018 Commencement Speakers

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry and His Excellency Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, to speak at NYU Abu Dhabi’s fifth graduation ceremony

Press Release

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry will be the keynote speaker at NYU Abu Dhabi’s fifth Commencement ceremony on May 20, 2018. NYU Abu Dhabi’s graduating class is comprised of some 250 students from more than 70 countries around the world. The graduation ceremony will be held at NYU Abu Dhabi’s campus on Saadiyat Island.

John Kerry was sworn in as the 68th Secretary of State of the United States on February 1, 2013, becoming the first sitting Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman to serve as Secretary in over a century. Kerry drew from this experience to provide the State Department with global stewardship on issues ranging from nuclear nonproliferation to radical extremists, to humanitarian challenges, and climate change.


We are deeply honored to announce former US Secretary of State John Kerry as keynote speaker for NYU Abu Dhabi's fifth Commencement. A decorated veteran, a highly respected US Senator, and a historic chief diplomat for over four decades, Secretary Kerry has been distinguished by extraordinary courage, commitment to building bridges of understanding, and singular focus on fostering enduring peace.

NYUAD Vice Chancellor Al Bloom

Kerry was a key architect of the Paris Climate Accord, signing the historic agreement in 2016 to reduce carbon emissions. He is currently a Distinguished Fellow for Global Affairs at Yale University as well as the inaugural Visiting Distinguished Statesman for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In addition to the address by Secretary Kerry, His Excellency Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, will offer remarks to the graduating class. Dr. Gargash is a member of the Federal Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates and has served as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs since 2008. He is also the Chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Al Owais Cultural Foundation, a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, and head of the UAE team for the Human Rights Periodic Review.

NYUAD Vice Chancellor Al Bloom said: “We are exceptionally proud to welcome H.E. Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, as a distinguished speaker at our fifth Commencement. Since completing a PhD at Cambridge University, H.E. Dr. Gargash has led a remarkable career in public service, beginning in academia and journalism, and rising to the UAE cabinet in 2008, where he has overseen a portfolio encompassing UAE National Council affairs and international affairs. For the last 10 years as Minister, he has played a central role advancing the UAE's profile on the international stage, building a model looked to across the region, and around the globe, as a source of enlightened leadership and optimism. His presence offers a powerful example to the Class of 2018 of the UAE's foresighted international outlook, made all the more meaningful as we mark the Year of Zayed.”

Speaking on behalf of the graduating class will be NYUAD student Abda Kazemi. Born in Afghanistan and raised in the United Kingdom, Kazemi is majoring in Social Research and Public Policy with a minor in Arabic language. Emirati student Maitha Salem Al Memari, who was recently selected as a 2018 Rhodes Scholar, will also offer brief welcome remarks.

This ceremony will be NYUAD’s fifth Commencement since graduating its inaugural class in 2014.

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About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.