Your Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan,
We were inspired to write the letter due to us soon graduating and reflecting on our four years at NYU Abu Dhabi, gathering memories which made us feel grateful. In the midst of these challenging times, we find comfort in the binding spirit of Ramadan. We wanted to share our brief personal stories showing our sincere gratitude to your Highness and other leaders of the United Arab Emirates. As the semester and our four years at NYU Abu Dhabi come to a close, we cannot help but relive some of the moments we would not have had without the visionary leadership of the country and our university we now call home.
من أنحاء العالم لعاصمة دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة: أبوظبي
From around the world to the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi
“Being born in Bosnia, an hour from the “Jerusalem of Europe”, I never imagined finding friends of so many different religious backgrounds away from home. Since leaving for Abu Dhabi was my first time living away, I had my challenges adapting to a new environment and being homesick. The time of Ramadan helped me heal and settle in a community I now love and appreciate. Every Iftar, my roommates patiently wait for the Maghrib time so we can have dinner together. Throughout my time at NYU Abu Dhabi, we have embodied and gone beyond religious tolerance, I have learned from them and they have learned from me. Concluding the four years of adventures and learning I have been gifted is bittersweet with no regrets and treasured lifetime memories. I look forward to the uncharted path ahead with stout confidence knowing how much I have gained from my unique time here at NYU Abu Dhabi and in the United Arab Emirates. As I spend this Ramadan fasting away from family, I am grateful to the UAE leadership for bringing us together and the family I have gained here.”
“In Abu Dhabi, I found a second family like no other, one that promotes tolerance, cultural understanding, and is always there to support its community members. The current COVID-19 crisis makes this bond clear. They say that NYU Abu Dhabi is unique in the way it has cared for its students, an integral value inspired by its host country’s leadership. Here, I was provided with support in all of its forms from students, staff, and faculty that have worked so tirelessly to further my education and ensure that I excel in all aspects of my life, personally, educationally, professionally, socially, and mentally. From my studies in Morocco, the United Kingdom, Spain, the United States, to life changing Kashtah programs that helped me explore and understand the United Arab Emirates, I formed deep bonds with peers from every side of the globe. While living with the Shehhi tribe at the edge of the mountains in Musandam or the Abdooli tribe in Dibbah alongside fellow students, we were learning and growing together to one day set out and face the world boldly. As I remember my four years at NYUAD, I feel immense gratitude towards the leadership of my beloved country, the UAE, who have provided me with the experiences and support of a lifetime that will allow me to give back to my country and the world.”
“In my first year in Abu Dhabi, I explored the oasis in Al Ain. I was grateful for the palm trees protecting me from strong, midday sunlight as I navigated the designated footpaths. I would have kept walking on that clear, concrete road if I had not heard faint splashes emerging from just beyond a rusty, half-open iron gate. Intrigued, I diverged from my path instead and entered the untamed landscape of wild grass and local flora. There, I discovered an intricate network of waterways constructed from natural materials in the oasis. I spent hours tracing this extended network, attempting to envision the community that built it. NYU Abu Dhabi and the UAE was my uncharted path, where I found a community of partners, friends and mentors to do what might have been considered impossible at the time through research, international community service projects and local collaborations - like bringing water to the middle of the desert. I will always be thankful for the lessons that began in the oasis and will continue as I take my next steps. I am comforted by the fact that, like the expert nomad the UAE has taught me to be, I will never forget my way back.”
These stories are just a few among the countless narratives that live in the hearts and minds of the 2020 Graduating Class. We know that they join us in extending gratitude to your Highness and the UAE, as well as our mentors among faculty and staff at NYU Abu Dhabi for the incredible guidance and support throughout our four years here, and especially during these exigent times.
We wish you and the people of the UAE continued good health, strength, and happiness.
راجين من المولى عز وجل أن يديم على دولة الإمارات وشعبها نعمة الأمن والأمان، والتقدم والازدهار
وتقبلوا خالص التحيات
Munib Mesinovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarah AlKaabi, United Arab Emirates
Vongai Christine Mlambo, Zimbabwe