New York University Abu Dhabi Honors Class of 2016 at Its Third Graduation Ceremony

In keynote address, UAE Ambassador to the United States challenges graduates to ‘write the next great chapter in the history of human endeavor.’

Press Release

New York University Abu Dhabi celebrated its third graduation ceremony today, honoring the exemplary achievement, intellectual passion and initiative of its 135 graduating seniors from 59 countries. New York University President Andrew Hamilton and NYU Abu Dhabi Vice Chancellor Alfred Bloom officiated at the commencement, which was attended by approximately 1,300 guests and held in Abu Dhabi at the University’s Saadiyat Island campus.

His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE Ambassador to the United States, addressed the graduating Class of 2016 and was presented with the NYU Abu Dhabi Global Leadership Award, recognizing his support of the university and his commitment to advancing the goal of a responsible, just, and peaceful globe. In remarks to graduates, faculty members, colleagues, UAE ministers and visiting dignitaries including H.E. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Member of the Board of Trustees for New York University, Ambassador Otaiba commended graduates for embracing Emirati values in becoming bold thinkers who are nurturing an attitude of tolerance and creating a culture of hope.

Ambassador Otaiba said: “You came here from every corner of the globe, but for the last four years this has been your home. Know that it will always be a home for you. And wherever life takes you, keep this community and the lessons you’ve learned here as your north star - a guiding light in both good and tough times. The world is becoming ever more interconnected and interdependent. You are a perfect example of that.”

Ambassador Otaiba added: “You have a responsibility to be an advocate for the values that you’ve embraced here - the very same values that will move the world forward. Innovative thinking, tolerance, respect for others, hospitality, and a culture of hope. If you help build a foundation for the future based on these principles, you will lead the world in the right direction. More than that, you will write the next great chapter in the history of human endeavor.”

“NYU Abu Dhabi is the embodiment of openness, opportunity, and optimism—at a moment in history when those qualities are desperately needed,” said President Hamilton. “Whether you are staying in Abu Dhabi after graduation or setting out for someplace entirely new, you are all embarking on a new journey. The good news is that as an NYU Abu Dhabi graduate, you are uniquely equipped to flourish in the world, and to influence it for the better.”

Vice Chancellor Bloom, said: “In our interdependent world, it is incumbent on educational institutions to cultivate in their students not only analytic power, intellectual breadth and depth, and conceptual and ethical complexity – the traditional foundational elements of excellent undergraduate education – but also to develop in them the resolve and ability to construct bridges of shared understanding and common purpose across a fractured world. If education does not foster these qualities of mind prerequisite to global cooperation and peace, it is unlikely that any other social institutions can or will. We are deeply proud that our students will bring these qualities to the leadership positions that they will assume.”

Her Excellency Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, UAE Minister of State for Youth, was presented with the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award at the ceremony, recognizing her outstanding contributions to society and continued support of the university. H.E. Al Mazrui is a member of the inaugural class of NYUAD graduates.

H.E. Al Mazrui said: “As an NYU Abu Dhabi graduate I can attest to the fact that NYUAD graduates survive. They adapt. They finish what they start. They stand their ground and always put others before them. NYU Abu Dhabi graduates never stop learning, working, and questioning.”

During their four years, the Class of 2016 succeeded in both academic and extracurricular pursuits. Highlights of their academic accomplishments include a Rhodes Scholarship; Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants; a Yenching Scholarship to the Yenching Academy of Peking University; and an NYU President’s Service Award. Graduates also produced globally recognized research, held hundreds of internships in some of the world’s most respected organizations, and developed artistic and theatrical works of regional significance.

Layan Abu Yassin, 21, who graduated with a degree in Economics, told her fellow graduates: “Our journey at NYU Abu Dhabi was a unique one. We have traveled, learned, and lived. We grew to become engineers who know how to act, scientists who write music, and artists who can run experiments in a lab. We are leaving NYUAD prepared to walk in all directions and always find our way. Our shared experiences cross the boundaries of countries and cultures and will lead to us creating real change in the world.”

For many in the Class of 2016, their next step will be graduate school. Graduates have already been accepted to graduate programs in disciplines spanning theoretical physics, law, creative writing, economics, engineering, international relations, Arabic language, sociology, and biomedicine at global institutions including Cambridge, Oxford, University College London, MIT, Brown, California Institute of the Arts, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Columbia, Stockholm School of Economics, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Others will begin professional careers, with up to a third remaining in the United Arab Emirates, while others will travel across the globe to pursue opportunities at educational fellowships, innovative start-ups, major financial institutions, art galleries, and social research firms.

Emirati student Shakhbout Al Kaabi, 23, who graduated with a degree in Film and New Media and Political Science, said: "I remember my first day at NYUAD, feeling like a stranger – even though I am from Abu Dhabi. It was a weird feeling at the very beginning, but soon I began to feel at home in this new university. And this feeling continued to grow day after day. It was never about the building or the institution itself; it was more about the people I met. From the faculty, students, staff, even our beloved security guards. I will truly miss this place, or I shall say, this home."

To learn more about the Class of 2016 visit

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.