Study guide in the UAE

Of course, studying in the UAE has its benefits: sun, sea, sand and maybe tax-free profits after graduation, and of course, the ability to study at some of the best universities in the Gulf region.

The United Arab Emirates is made up of seven countries or emirates (with a system much smaller than the United States). As with the states in the United States, each emirate enjoys some degree of independence, but there is also a federal government. This is known as the Supreme Council of the Federation, and is made up of the seven princes – the leaders of each emirate – who inherit their positions.

Since the 1950s, when oil was discovered in the region, the UAE economy has experienced a rapid qualitative boom. In addition to exporting oil and gas, the country has focused on developing the construction and tourism industries; To some extent, these things go hand in hand, as the great works of modern design on display in Dubai are among the main attractions for visitors.

Why study in the United Arab Emirates?

The United Arab Emirates is a popular study destination, due to its beautiful cities where you can find people from all over the globe, and its prestigious universities with modern facilities. The fact that the majority of the population speaks English, which is the primary language of instruction in many higher education programs, is another important attraction. If you go to the United Arab Emirates, you will enjoy living near some of the most impressive architectural works in the world, including the Burj Khalifa and the majestic Palm Islands.

The United Arab Emirates is devoting its efforts to develop its educational infrastructure, with the aim of becoming a prominent figure in the global education equation in the future.

The higher education system in the UAE has been greatly influenced by the systems of France, Canada, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The number of educational institutions is constantly increasing but there are currently three state-funded universities and more than 50 private institutions. In fact, the United Arab Emirates is home to some of the best universities in the Gulf region.

Public universities in the United Arab Emirates

  • Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) : These colleges are the largest institution of higher education in the United Arab Emirates, with about 17 branches across the country.
    • Emirates University (UAEU) : University leading in country, which offers many of internationally accredited programs.
    • Zayed (ZU) University : Founded in 1998 as institution only for students but now open to male students well.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research supervises public universities and accepts only United Arab Emirates citizens. Private universities and colleges are open to all students.

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The most prestigious private university in the United Arab Emirates

  • Abu Dhabi University (ADU)
  • American University in Dubai (AUD)
  • American University of Sharjah (AUS)
  • Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (KU)
  • University of Sharjah (UOS).

Additionally, a number of highly ranked universities located in other countries have branch campuses in the United Arab Emirates. Including those in Australia, Canada, UK and USA.

There are eight UAE educational institutions in the QS World University Rankings 2019, and they include:

  • Abu Dhabi University.
  • Ajman University.
  • American University of Dubai.
  • American University of Sharjah.
  • Khalifa University.
  • United Arab Emirates University.
  • Al Sharekah University.
  • Zayed University.

For a list of accredited universities, see Arab Campus – List of Universities .

Khalifa University was ranked first in the UAE and 315 globally, according to the QS 2019 ranking.

The academic year runs from September to June with the winter break in December and the spring break in March.

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Tuition costs in the United Arab Emirates

UAE citizens get study courses for free in public universities, but foreign students have to pay tuition fees. Universities in the United Arab Emirates set their own fees, so costs vary depending on your course, level of study, and location.

The tuition fees for postgraduate courses are often expensive but the cost of the programs varies widely. Fees can cost between 48,000 AED ($ 13,424) to 120,450 AED ($ 33,688).

There are also additional costs to consider such as application fees, accommodation, study materials, food and travel.

Food costs in the United Arab Emirates

The average cost of daily necessities and services (source: University of Wollongong in Dubai) in Dubai is shown in the table below:

Good or service The cost is in UAE Dirhams
Piece of bread 5
Water (1.5 liter) 1.5
A can of soft drink 1.50
Dozen of eggs 10
Milk (1 liter) 7
Rice (kg) 10

Transportation costs

Food, entertainment, transportation and other miscellaneous elements contribute to the total cost of living in UAE / Dubai.

the service The cost is in UAE Dirhams
Taxi (5 km journey) $83 – $41
Metro excursion (1 zone, standard fare) $200 – $250
Car rental (per week) $25 – $60
Gasoline (per liter) $40

What are the conditions for studying in the United Arab Emirates?

Bachelor’s degrees

Bachelor’s programs are available in UAE institutions in a range of majors and can be studied either full-time or part-time. Full-time coursework typically takes three to four years to complete.

Universities set their own entry requirements, but in order to be accepted into a course, they need a high school graduation certificate or equivalent.

Many universities teach foreign students in English, so if this is not your native language, you will also need to prove your proficiency with the IELTS or TOEFL test. Despite the fact that many universities teach in English, you may also need proof of Arabic language proficiency.

To choose a suitable Bachelor’s degree in the UAE, see the list here .

Master’s degrees

Most master’s degrees in the United Arab Emirates are studied in a manner similar to that in other parts of the world, with master’s degrees in science and arts available. You must have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university to be eligible to study. The programs are taught full-time and last for one or two years. However, some universities provide the opportunity to study part-time, online, or remotely, with these options continuing for up to five years.

Popular subjects include business administration, architecture, humanities, science and engineering. As in many countries of the world, most master’s courses in the United Arab Emirates require the completion of a master’s thesis.

The main language of instruction is English, although some institutions may require a clear knowledge of Arabic.

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To browse masters courses in the United Arab Emirates, see list the Academic Accreditation Authority .


Like master’s qualifications, PhDs in the United Arab Emirates follow a structure similar to that in most countries of the world, in which students are required to conduct independent research and submit a thesis.

Doctoral programs typically last three to four years, depending on your field of study. You must have a recognized master’s degree to apply for these research-based degrees.

Doctoral degrees are usually taken in the fields of biotechnology, economics, engineering, science and technology.

For more information about the degrees available, see PhD programs on the Arab University campus website .

What are the conditions for student visa to the United Arab Emirates?

To obtain a student residence visa, you need sponsorship from a resident of the country. If you do not have any relatives in the UAE, the university you will study at will likely do it for you, but check with the university’s international office to make sure they offer this service.

You will need to apply for the visa, but bear in mind that sponsorship does not always guarantee admission.

Student visas are usually granted for only one year but are renewable for the duration of the study. Application costs amount to 3,000 dirhams ($ 842), plus additional insurance costs of 1,000 dirhams ($ 280).

You will need to submit:

  • A passport valid for at least six months and two blank visa pages.
  • 12 passport size photos.
  • Three copies of the passport and entry visa to the United Arab Emirates upon arrival.
  • Evidence of acceptance into a UAE higher education institution.
  • Bank statements that specify evidence of funds.
  • Lease agreement (or letter from your university if you are staying in the halls of the university).
  • A copy of the tuition fee payment statement for the current academic year of the program.
  • A copy of the statement of payment of the visa fee for the current academic year of the program.
  • Postgraduate students also need evidence of a recognized university degree.

When you arrive in the country, you will need to undergo a medical examination. This includes testing for HIV, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, leprosy, and syphilis. If you test positive for any of these diseases, except for syphilis, you will be deported.

In November 2018, the UAE government approved a decision to grant a five-year visa to high-achieving students. To obtain this visa:

  • High school students must graduate with a minimum score of 95%.
  • University students must graduate with a distinguished GPA of at least 3.75 from universities inside or outside the country.

Are there scholarships for the United Arab Emirates?

Many institutions provide free scholarships to study in the United Arab Emirates, including:

  • Al Qasimi Foundation’s Doctoral Research Scholarships: It represents a scholarship to study a doctoral research exclusively for students who have a distinguished academic record of various nationalities and includes travel costs, financial support to cover research and accommodation costs for one year in addition to a monthly living allowance, for more information about the scholarship, you can visit this link.
  • United Arab Emirates University Scholarships : The United Arab Emirates University was ranked fifth among the best Arab universities according to the QS ranking for the year 2019. The university offers a range of scholarships for foreign and Emirati students wishing to enroll in graduate studies programs at the university. The duration of the grant is 3 years, with the possibility of an extension to four years. Benefits of the scholarship The grants of the United Arab Emirates University cover the following costs: a monthly allowance of 6000 dirhams (about 1650 dollars) for a period of three years with the possibility of extending for a fourth year, tuition costs, housing and accommodation costs, and health insurance. You can get more information about it here.
  • Research Scholarships for Masters and Ph.D. at Khalifa University Khalifa : University, also known as Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research, is located in Abu Dhabi. It provides its students with a distinct research environment. Among the most famous scholarships offered by the university is the “Research” grant for Emirati students wishing to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree at Khalifa University or a number of other international universities. It is divided into two main types:
  1. UAE-Based Buhooth Research Scholarship : It provides the opportunity for students to obtain a master’s or doctorate at Khalifa University of Science and Technology.
  2. International Buhooth Research Scholarship world-class : for Emirati students wishing to obtain a master’s or doctorate from a university.

For more information about the scholarships offered by Khalifa University, you can visit their official website via this link .

In addition to the many scholarships, exchange programs for students to the Emirates may be available through partnerships between Emirati universities and your universities, you can inquire from your universities about their availability.

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Student housing in the United Arab Emirates

The housing is divided into two parts: on-campus and off-campus accommodation. The most popular option is on-campus accommodation because it is less expensive than living in the city. Students need to plan their living arrangement as quickly as possible because accommodations are filling up quickly in the best universities in Dubai.

There are over 63 universities and institutes of higher education in Dubai, and only a few of them offer student housing. For those who can afford it, universities also collaborate with local hotels to offer rooms at cheaper rates. If the university does not provide housing facilities, students can search for private accommodation.

On-campus accommodation costs range from 12,500 to 27,500 dirhams (US $ 3,403 – 7,487) depending on the room quality and the number of beds. Private housing may be an inevitable reality for many students who study in the UAE and are unable to find housing on campus.

The accommodation costs shown below are provided by Canadian University of Dubai. This will give students wishing to study in Dubai an idea of ​​the costs of private housing.

The cost of private housing in Dubai in private apartments, costs in UAE dirhams:

living location \ address The cost is in UAE Dirhams
Acceptable quality, 1 bedroom 70000 – 85000
Acceptable quality, 2 bedrooms 85000 – 100000
Good quality, 1 bedroom 100،000 – 120،000
Good quality, 2 bedrooms 120.000 – 140.000
Good quality, 3 bedrooms 140.000 – 190.000


Can I work during the study period?

Students cannot work only with a student visa, but they can apply for a work permit while they are in the UAE, and if they obtain it, they can work 15 hours per week or 60 hours per month. Additionally, some universities such as the American University of Sharjah offer their students the possibility to work on campus.

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What are the most popular leisure activities in the United Arab Emirates?

The United Arab Emirates is the Gulf country most interested in tourism and contains many recreational facilities, distinctive landmarks and modern cities with many skyscrapers, examples of these cities are the well-known city of Dubai, which includes the highest building on the surface of the earth – Burj Khalifa in addition to the Dubai Mall, which is one of the largest shopping malls In the region, the distinctive Burj Al Arab Hotel, Jumeirah Beach, Palm Islands, Al Fahidi Historical District, Madinat Jumeirah Market and Mosque, Dubai Miracle Garden and many, many more

You can also visit the capital, Abu Dhabi, with its tranquility and elegance, which contains the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which accommodates more than 40,000 worshipers and is an important tourist attraction in addition to being one of the largest mosques in the world.

Is the UAE safe?

The UAE is very safe and the crime rate is very low, but nevertheless, care must be taken that it is a tourist country in the end, and personal safety measures must be taken to avoid pickpockets who may be present in its tourist places, in addition to taking into account that it is an Islamic country that derives many of its laws from Islamic law that must be observed during your stay there at least, despite that the UAE is one of the Islamic countries most open, tolerant and respectful of individual freedom.

The health system in the United Arab Emirates

The health system in the United Arab Emirates is very efficient and is considered one of the best in the region, but health care in public centers is free for citizens only, so foreign students coming to the UAE must obtain health insurance from private centers, of which there are many in various parts of the country, and they can Also, use of public centers after obtaining a special card from the UAE Ministry of Health, and it will certainly not be free.

The average annual cost of per capita health insurance in Dubai is $ 4,772 (about £ 3,915) – this is according to the 2017 Pacific Prime Global Study. Pacific Prime states that Dubai is the 7th most expensive place in the world for private medical insurance; The United Kingdom is in sixth place, while the United States is ranked first.

Some universities and sponsors may provide partial or full health insurance for students, so you can contact the authorities concerned in this regard.

Difficulties studying in the United Arab Emirates

The main difficulties may be summarized in the high costs of education, housing and health insurance, in addition to the very hot weather in Dubai during the summer in particular, but the latter may not represent a problem for those accustomed to such climates


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