NYU Abu Dhabi Celebrates Ten Years of Excellence, Innovation, and Growth

“NYUAD shaped my life in the most fundamental ways as a learner, a citizen, and a human being,” says NYUAD Class of 2014 alumna Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui

Press Release

Established in partnership between New York University (NYU) and the emirate of Abu Dhabi, NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) has assembled over the past decade a remarkable community of scholars, students, researchers, artists, inventors, and others who have contributed to the growth of the UAE’s capital as a global hub of knowledge and culture, while establishing a new model of higher education for today’s complex world.


“Ten years ago, when NYU embarked on NYU Abu Dhabi in partnership with the Abu Dhabi government, it was a bold and untested venture. In the decade since, NYU Abu Dhabi has attracted students and faculty of exceptional caliber from all across the world; developed a uniquely rigorous, global curriculum; and established itself as a major center of research, culture, and innovation in its region. In the wake of NYU Abu Dhabi's resounding success, other major US universities have taken their own steps in global higher education, proving its appeal and reaffirming the value for higher education of preparing students to be leaders in this global century. As we celebrate NYU Abu Dhabi's first decade with pride, we look forward to its many achievements and contributions yet to come.”

NYU President Andrew Hamilton

“In ten years, NYUAD has realized a new model of liberal arts higher education that is resolutely international. It equips students for collaborative leadership in any human endeavor, and to make positive differences in our world ⁠— in their worlds,” said NYU Abu Dhabi Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann. “NYUAD has shown that higher education can simultaneously integrate the best of the old and the new, advance human creativity and societal development, and address the challenges facing the global community. I know of no institution that offers a more profound sense of the joy, possibility, and value of learning, or that more effectively prepares its students for fulfilling lives in a complex world."

NYUAD Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann

In honor of ten years of excellence and success, NYUAD and the extended community across NYU’s global network will celebrate special moments in the University’s history and host a series of lively events, opportunities for intellectual exchange, and initiatives that reflect on NYUAD’s remarkable first decade. Two unique memory projects will launch in 2020 which will offer members of the NYUAD community the opportunity to record, share, and preserve their own oral personal memories and stories about the University. These memories will be available in various formats on the University’s website, and will live on in the University archives.

In addition to its undergraduate students, NYUAD has over 80 global PhD students in Science and Engineering, who are closely connected to graduate programs in New York. The University also recently announced two new, full-time master’s programs in Economics and Fine Arts. Applications are now open (program launch dates are contingent upon successful completion of CAA accreditation.

NYUAD’s more than 300 faculty from more than 45 countries are leading researchers, scholars, writers, and artists, within and beyond their disciplines. Faculty have received global awards and honors including election to the National Academy of Sciences, the Radcliffe Fellowship, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, the Moore Prize in Fiction, the Hindu Prize, and the Rhodes Trust Inspirational Educator Award, among many others.

In the next five years, the University is expected to grow its undergraduate and graduate programs, while adding additional faculty to teach the expanded student population and conduct research.

“NYUAD shaped my life in the most fundamental ways as a learner, a citizen, and a human being. It taught me how to participate in building a big vision from the ground up and to build it by listening to the needs of its stakeholders - NYUAD taught me that no challenge is big enough or hard enough to overcome IF we put our heart and soul into overcoming it together.”

UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs and NYUAD Class of 2014 alumna Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui

Students and Faculty
NYUAD students are drawn from the world’s best. In just ten years, NYUAD has grown to an undergraduate population of some 1,450 students from over 115 countries and speaking more than 115 languages. The largest single nationality is Emirati, at about 15 percent, followed by American at 12 percent.

The University has an average admit rate of four percent and the yield for incoming classes — the percentage of students who choose to attend NYUAD after being admitted — makes the University one of the most highly selective of any in the world.

NYUAD has produced 14 Rhodes Scholars in just seven graduating classes, more per capita than any university in the world. Graduates have also been awarded a number of other top honors including Truman, Schwarzman, Fulbright, Yenching, Bseisu Cambridge, and Erasmus Mundus scholarships.

The undergraduate curriculum builds from a cross-disciplinary core, through 24 rigorous majors, towards a full-year independent Capstone project. Learning, research, and community engagement extend well beyond the classroom into the residences and dining halls, the city of Abu Dhabi and the Emirates, and around the world.

Ten years ago, NYUAD opened with an ambitious vision to be one of the world’s great research universities addressing complex challenges of local and global significance. Since then, the University has established more than 80 faculty labs and projects, and 14 distinctive research centers led by accomplished thought leaders. In just 10 years, researchers, scholars, writers, and artists at NYUAD have produced over 3,500 internationally-recognized academic papers, articles, books, and created and directed more than 250 creative works.

Cross-pollination of ideas and investment in state-of-the-art research technologies are key to NYUAD’s continued growth across key interdisciplinary research areas including bio-innovation and health, cities, culture and heritage, environmental sustainability, and governance and peace.

NYUAD’s graduating classes have an average 97 percent placement rate in graduate school or employment within six months of graduating. This pioneering group of nearly 1,100 alumni are accomplishing new heights across a range of industries and institutions of further education. Almost 50 percent of employed graduates have chosen to stay in the UAE after graduation and contribute to the region’s growth and continuing development, working across the private sector and within government entities, including Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, McKinsey & Co, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and Etihad Airways, among many others.

Volunteering and community engagement
NYUAD’s community outreach, public engagement programs, and community-based learning opportunities are designed to promote meaningful involvement, embrace the rich diversity of the UAE, and cultivate ethical leadership.Each year, 1,250 external UAE community members through 60 UAE partner organizations are positively impacted.

The NYUAD community contribute an average of 650 volunteer hours a year supporting children with disabilities in educational centers.

NYUAD’s Office of Community Outreach has engaged over 700 middle and high school youth along with more than 330 NYUAD student volunteers through its own Dalai Lama award-winning leadership development programs, the Girls’ and Boys’ Education Network.

In addition, in an effort to support sustainability and conservation more than 600 volunteers from the UAE wider community have been brought together to collect over 68,900 nurdles from the beach in four Nurdle Hunts events.

In the Community

The Institute
Established in 2008, The NYUAD Institute brings together academics, professionals, and leaders from around the world to its academic conferences and public programs to discuss research areas and topics of local and global significance. To date, The Institute has welcomed over 72,000 attendees to more than 800 academic conferences and public programs featuring more than 800 speakers.

Anchored at NYUAD and powered by its Abu Dhabi partner Tamkeen, startAD is an Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator steering seed-stage technology startups to launch, develop, and scale their ventures. Over 7,000 participants including youth, aspiring entrepreneurs, investors, and government entities have benefitted from startAD programs to date and since 2016, startAD has worked with 112 startups from 24 countries who have secured over 50 pilot projects with corporates, raised USD 45 million in funding, and created 230 jobs.

The Arts Center
Since opening in 2015, The Arts Center has hosted nearly 400 performances by more than 1,400 artists representing over 50 countries, which attracted over 78,000 attendees as of December 2019. The Arts Center also has commissioned 22 new performances, many of which have toured the globe, and organized more than 700 community and university engagement and educational events for over 11,000 participants.

The Art Gallery
Since its inception, The Art Gallery has hosted 12 landmark exhibitions at its main space, presented more than 70 community-based and student exhibitions at its auxiliary venue The Project Space, produced five scholarly publications, published 10 youth guides commissioned from local artists, mounted seven Christo and Jeanne-Claude awards, and organized 110 public programs, attracting nearly 60,000 visitors to date.

Looking ahead
Commenting on what the future holds for NYUAD, Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann said, “This is an exciting time for NYUAD as we begin to reach yet higher, yet farther into our second decade. We have a horizon for measured growth that will see us expand our undergraduate student population, attract more graduate students to new master’s and PhD programs, and appoint more top faculty. We will extend further our leading position across the region in cutting-edge research, and broaden and deepen our engagement with the Abu Dhabi and UAE community in ever more impactful ways. Together, we are making NYU Abu Dhabi the best university it can be, in and of Abu Dhabi, in and of New York University, in and for a better world.”

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.