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“My Amazing AUD Experience” by Arthur Delaye

I spent the 2019-20 academic year at the American University in Dubai (AUD). AUD was my first choice for many reasons.

Sep 03, 2020

I am Arthur DELAYE, a French student from Paris studying at Sciences Po. I did a study abroad program for my 3rd year of Bachelor program and that was where my AUD story begins.

I spent the 2019-20 academic year at the American University in Dubai (AUD). AUD was my first choice for many reasons. First, I wanted to explore outside of Europe and spend some time in a great city where I could meet new people and experience different cultures. The weather in Dubai is really nice unlike the cloudy weather in Paris. I am also really interested in the MENA region and wanted to study more about it. Indeed, this region of the world is famous for its complexities of history and geo-politics. As a student studying Political Science and International Studies, there is no better way to understand the complexities and the challenges by being in the region, in my opinion. Moreover, I am also a huge sports fan. There are many international competitions hosted in the UAE annually and I wanted like to take advantage of it.

Lastly, I would also like to mention that, as a student with a physical disability and special needs, such as accessibility of transportations, streets or just getting around the University, AUD and Dubai is very accommodating and accessible for people with disabilities. It made life a lot easier when exploring Dubai.

Arriving at AUD for the first day in August 2019

Arriving at AUD for the first day in August 2019

I also enjoyed my courses at AUD very much. I took Islamic Civilization, Intro to Middle East History, Intro to International Relations, International Diplomacy and World Geography for my first semester. In the second semester, I chose Selected Topics in Journalism, Conflicts in the Middle East, Business in the Modern Middle East, Islamic Politics and Geopolitics. I am glad that I was able to further my studies about the region at AUD.

The CenterAUD as a host institution was incredible. People and students were really welcoming. Ms. Nelly Halabi, the Director of the Health Center, provided me with tremendous of help during my time at AUD. I was able to have a room that accommodate my disability and the dormitory and campus are also very accessible. The services available on campus, such as cafeteria and the hair salon, were very convenient for students.

There were also many opportunities to attend activities and conferences. I was able to meet the French Ambassador, Mr. Ludovic Pouille and Ms. Claudie Haigneré, the former astronaut who was the first European female to work for a spatial mission in the French Business and Spatial Conquest Conference during my time at AUD.


Picture with Ludovic Pouille, Ambassador of France in the UAE during a conference one French-UAE partnership (left). Picture with Claudie Haigneré French Astronaut and former Minister after a conference on French UAE partnership for spatial conquest (right)

Outside of classrooms, I explored and spent time to visit the monuments and famous landmarks in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. I could get around easily without any difficulty thanks to the easy availability of Dubai taxis on streets and the Dubai metro system. To me, it is easier to get around in Dubai than in France and that is one of the reasons why I had an amazing year at AUD.

During the first semester I visited Burj Khalifa and the Museum of Islamic Civilization in Dubai. Madinat Jumeirah is also one of my favorite spots in Dubai. I always felt calm and relaxed there. I took a lot of walks to admire the landscapes. I also strongly recommend the Miracle Garden to observe wonderful plants and floral creations. It is quite a contrast to the city’s hot desert climate. It feels like you are visiting in the countryside in the middle of Dubai and it is really nice.

Of course, I would not miss out on the opportunity to visit Abu Dhabi during my time at AUD. I was able to see the Abu Dhabi GP in Formula 1 on Yas Marina Circuit. Thanks to the gracious hosts there and the UAE’s attention towards disabled people, I was able to meet the F1 drivers during a meet & greet session. The facility itself is beautiful and the race was incredible.

Formula 1
Formula 1 race on Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi

In December, my family came to Dubai to spend the Christmas holidays with me. The famous New Year celebration with fireworks from the world’s tallest building – Burj Khalifa, is a must-see if you are in Dubai on New Year’s Eve. We also visited the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a great museum inaugurated by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, and the result of incredible cultural cooperation and partnership between France and the UAE.

Burj Khalifa fireworks on New Year’s Eve
Burj Khalifa fireworks on New Year’s Eve

After that, we stopped by the Al Qasr Palace, the Presidential Palace of his Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. What a magnificent monument! We finished our Abu Dhabi tour with the Sheikh Zayed Mosque which is also marvelous for its architecture before returning to Dubai.

A few days left before the start of my spring semester at AUD a miracle arrived! I was able to meet one of my idols, the tennis legend and champion Roger Federer, who at the time was practicing in Dubai before the Australian Open. This very moment will remain as my best memory of the year. As an enormous tennis fan, I went to see the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship. I saw a great match in the grandstand. The security of the tournament was so kind and they allowed me to meet the world’s Number 1 player, Novak Djokovic. How amazing!

Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in the Irish Village
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in the Irish Village. Meeting with the legendary tennis player, Roger Federer (left) and Novak Djokovic (right)

Unfortunately, one week after this amazing moment, the Coronavirus Pandemic spread rapidly worldwide and the closure of all schools and universities in the country was announced at the beginning of the AUD Spring Break. With the courses transitioned online for the remainder of the spring semester, I realized that it would be better to return to Paris so that my family would not be worried.

It was heartbreaking to leave Dubai so unexpectedly without saying goodbye to everyone who made my time at AUD so amazing. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all the AUD faculty and staff who supported me throughout my AUD journey. I will forever treasure these unforgettable memories of my student life in Dubai.

A big Thank-You to:

  • Dr. David A. Schmidt, President of the American University in Dubai and the first lady, Mrs. Yuchun Schmidt

Also, Thank-You to:

  • Mrs. Nelly Halabi, Health Center Director
  • Mrs. Raya al Barazi, Housing Director
  • Mrs. Carol Maalouf, Director of Admission
  • Mrs. Sara Montero, Dean of AUD Student Affairs
  • Mr. Bahaa el Sheikh, Visa Officer
  • Mrs. Carolyne Macharia, Registrar office
  • Mrs. Diana Nenashev, Finance Office
  • Mr. Sant Sanfa, Controller from my Residential Hall
  • Mr. Omar Bortolazzi, AUD Professor
  • Mr. Matthew Ingalls, AUD Professor
  • Mr. Farid Al Salim, AUD Professor
  • Mrs. Trayle Kulshan, AUD Instructor and Academic Advisor
  • All AUD security guards
  • And, all AUD employees for making life easier for each visiting student