Asalamalikum Kulu Wahid!
One of the things that really amazed me at the American University in Dubai (AUD) is the opportunities I have had to be exposed to a variety of cultures - Emirati, Pakistani, Turkish, Palestinian, Iraqi, and many, many more. With more than 105 nationalities on campus, you name it, I bet you can find it! AUD has an incredibly diverse student population, frequently ranked in the top 5 universities with global student diversity in QS ranking. AUD’s student cultural clubs host events regularly to celebrate different cultures and heritages - cultural performances and traditional delicacies. AUD students are very fortunate because they can experience different cultures, right here on the AUD campus. A similar atmosphere of diversity is exhibited throughout the Emirate of Dubai and the U.A.E. When visiting the Dubai Marina and the JBR beach, there are many restaurants along the way with food from Pakistan, Turkey, Italy, Azerbaijan, Russia, Japan, and around the world.
Near AUD, there are also many restaurants that deliver different cuisines from a variety of cultures and regions. One of my personal favorites is Bosporus Restaurant along the JBR beach, which specializes in Turkish food. There are also a lot of Pakistani restaurants nearby that serve biryani, chicken tikka, and a variety of other delicious dishes. The restaurants are also decorated to showcase their cultural heritage.
Global Village in Dubai is the perfect place to visit if you are interested in exploring different cultures. A variety of countries from the Middle East, the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia are represented with their own pavilions, and it is a great place to sample different food and shop great pieces from around the world. The magical pavilions somehow make you feel like you are in those countries, especially Turkey, U.A.E., Japan, India, and Pakistan. In my opinion, Global Village is a must-visit for culture lovers. And, for those of you who have missed out on the Expo 2020 which ended in March 2022, Global Village is a great alternative.
Over this spring break, I visited the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and spent a whole day there. Despite the overly warm weather, it was such a memorable day filled with the major attractions in Abu Dhabi. We started our day on Yas Island at the Mall viewing the beautiful fountains outside. Then, we went to the Emirates Palace (قصر الإمارات), a luxury five-star hotel in Abu Dhabi famous for its architectural design, a mix of Islamic architectural elements alongside modern methods of design and construction. The color of the building was inspired by different shades of sands found in the Arabian Desert. Next up, we headed to the Qasr Al Watan (قَصْر ٱلْوَطَن) - Palace of the Nation, which is UAE’s Presidential Palace and a majestic cultural landmark where you can gain an inspiring and educational insight into Emirati and Arabian cultures and history. Since its opening to the public in 2019, Qasr Al Watan has quickly gain popularity and is commonly ranked as a must-visit by tourists. Afterwards, we ended our day in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center (جَامِع ٱلشَّيْخ زَايِد ٱلْكَبِيْر), which left me speechless. It is arguably one to the most beautiful mosques in the world. We took a guided tour to learn more about the rich history, story and architectural designs of the mosque.
With another day of adventure ahead of us, my friend and I started out by visiting the Old Souks in Dubai and bargaining with the shopkeepers to purchase a few gifts and souvenirs. Then we decided to visit the Emirates of Sharjah, which was not far away to the Old Souks. Because Sharjah is well known for its amazing museums, we chose the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization to enjoy our time. My favorite gallery at the Museum was the Ibn Al Haitham Gallery for Science and Technology. The exhibit of the Islamic Astronomy, which showcases the findings and inventions of early Muslim scholars, is also one of my favorites. What drew me to the exhibit was my interest in astronomy and the desire to learn more about how Muslim scholars conducted their research. I also appreciate how the Abbasid Caliphate (اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, 750–1258) welcomed all people around the Empire to contribute and share their knowledge equally, whether they were Muslim or not. It brought together such a diverse empire through the collection and translation of knowledge from around the world. It turns out, the respect for diversity has deep cultural and historical roots. We ended our trip to Sharjah at a Pakistani restaurant down the street from the museum. Another great thing Sharjah has to offer - great Pakistani food. Of course, we could not leave without trying it and it was well worth it. As a Pakistani American, I can confidently tell you the food was delicious and very authentic.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience at American University in Dubai. This place has a lot to offer. What will your experience be?
Hajrah Jalil is also a guest blogger for Amideast Education Abroad Connect for the Spring 2022. This blog post can also be found at https://www.amideastedabroad.org/home/category/UAE.
Dubai, UAE, Spring 2022