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Study in the United Arab Emirates: A Guide for International Students

Studying in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the chance to live a cultural experience like no other, in an economically and academically thriving country that will challenge your world views and ignite your sense of adventure.

A small country in the Arabian Peninsula, the UAE is bordered by Saudi Arabia, Oman and the Persian Gulf and is composed of seven emirates — Abu Dhabi (the capital), Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm al-Quwain.

They all play a significant role in making up this country’s cultural and natural wealth, but most of the country’s higher education institutions are located in its two largest emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, that have been at the forefront of the country’s aspirations to elevate higher education to the world-class standards that they have today.

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Abu Dhabi is home to the capital city and is the largest of the emirates, making up three fourths of the country’s territory, as well as being at the center of the UAE’s oil industry and is responsible for a third of its GDP. Dubai in turn is the most populous of the UAE and the region’s most vital commercial and financial hub, where international students will find ample opportunities to develop themselves professionally.

You’ll have the chance to explore various cutting-edge attractions, such as the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building!) and the artificial Palm islands in Dubai, as well as religious edifices like the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, in addition to all the possible adventurous activities provided by the country’s natural environment, including deep-sea diving in the Persian Gulf or dune bashing in the desert.

The country’s deep-seated Islamic culture and tradition combined with their powerful drive towards innovation and modernity have led the UAE to be a one-of-a-kind destination for students all over the world. Don’t believe us? See for yourself! Read through our Study Abroad in the UAE Guide and begin looking for a program that fits you best today!

United Arab Emirates - Quick facts & figures


Abu Dhabi




9.4 million

Area Size

83,600 km²

International students


Academic Year

September - June


United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED)

Calling Code


Time Zone

GMT +4

Student in the UAE

More about studying abroad in the UAE

The UAE's higher education system takes influence from western higher education systems and it prides itself in having some of the best universities in the Gulf region.

Though there’s an increasing number of institutions in the UAE, there are currently three state-funded universities and more than 50 private institutions. And while government institutions are highly competitive for international students, private universities and colleges are open to all.

There’s also a growing presence of private international institutions or global partnerships that are highly sought after by students looking for an international education and accreditation. 

Learning Arabic is not necessary to study in the UAE as most of institutions will have English programs available. And though tuition fees are generally considered high, there are ample scholarship opportunities for international students, as well as the possibility of getting a part-time job while holding a student visa.

If that sounds at all interesting to you, join in for the adventure of a lifetime in the UAE!

Education System

Want to learn about how higher education works in the UAE? A popular destination for international students given its high-quality education and fascinating cultural diversity, take a minute to dive into the UAE’s higher education system!

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Student Visas

Do you need a visa to study in the UAE? Learn everything you need to know about the student visa process and the exact documents you need to enter the country.

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Housing & Living Costs

No matter where you study abroad, it’s important to create a budget in advance so that you’re prepared. Therefore, we’ve detailed average living and housing costs so that you can get a better idea of what you would be paying as a student in the UAE.

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Tuition Fees & Scholarships

Tuition fees for degree programs in the UAE may vary. While domestic students can study for free, international students are expected to pay tuition fees in the UAE, but there are plenty of scholarship opportunities available to help fund your study abroad journey.

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Language & Culture

The UAE is rich in history, religion and cultural diversity. Find out more about what the country has to offer international students in terms of language, culture, and more!

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Application Process

All countries have specific admissions requirements for students to gain acceptance into a higher education institution. Learn more about the ins and outs of admission to programs in the UAE and what you need to apply to the institution of your choice.

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Ready to look for study programs in the UAE? Use our search engine to find and compare programs from top universities in the UAE today!

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Last update: 28 Jun 2021

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