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The evolution of the American University in Dubai began as a fact-finding mission in 1991 and signified the beginning of what was to grow to become one of the region’s most respected institutions for higher education.

When a team, led by Elias Bou Saab from the American College in Atlanta, Georgia, visited the Gulf to establish relationships with various ministries of higher education as well as the region’s schools, Dubai was still a developing and relatively undeveloped destination in the Middle East.

Four years later, in 1995, Bou Saab officially established the American University in Dubai, with the full commitment and support of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai. To this day, His Highness continues his unlimited support for higher education in general and to the university in particular.

The guiding principle underlying the university’s establishment was bringing the American educational system to the region,without interfering with or challenging the culture or values of the local community. The institution achieved this goal and, to this day, considers it a key to its success.

In October 1995, AUD opened its doors as a branch campus of the American College in Atlanta. With 165 students enrolled, half of which were females, AUD grew progressively over the years and in 2000 the University became officially licensed by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education Affairs (MOE-HEA), while moving into its new fully equipped, purpose-built campus in an area that would soon be known as ‘New Dubai.’


Today, the American University in Dubai is a fully independent, vibrant institution which serves as a point of reference for higher education within the Gulf Region and greater Middle East. It currently educates more than 2,000 students of almost 100 nationalities, and remains the first and only institution outside of the U.S. and Latin America to receive accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 


January, 1995

Mr. Elias Bou Saab moves to Dubai and establishes the American University in Dubai 

Fall, 1995

Opening enrollment of 165 

January, 1996

Addition of MBA program 

December, 1996

SACSCOC accreditation 

January, 1997

IAA accreditation (advertising programs) 

June, 1997

Dr. Lance de Masi becomes President/Chief Academic Officer 

March, 1998

Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Educational Commission (NPEC) issues degree-granting rights 

June, 1998

First Commencement Exercises – James Baker, Keynote Speaker 

Jan, 2000

Move to new premises 


Enrollment, 648


Licensure by UAE Ministry of Higher Education 

May, 2000

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum officially inaugurates AUD Campus 

April, 2001

SACSCOC Substantive Change Prospectus (School of Engineering) 

June, 2002

Fifth Commencement Exercises – Bill Clinton, Keynote Speaker 

Fall, 2002

First engineering student admitted 

November, 2003

School of Business Administration accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) 


H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum officially inaugurates the School of Engineering 

December, 2003

SACSCOC reaffirms AUD accreditation 

June, 2004

Dr. Jihad Nader appointed Provost/Chief Academic Officer 

May, 2005

Ministry completes accreditation of all AUD programs 

September, 2007

AUD opens School of Communication 

December, 2007

AUD becomes the first and only institution of higher learning outside the US and Latin America to receive SACSCOC independent accreditation.

March, 2008

Inaugural Harvard-AUD student exchange 

May, 2008

Revised Mission/Purpose-related Goals ratified 

June, 2008

Naming of Mohammed Bin Rashid School for Communication 

September, 2008

Engineering programs (Civil, Computer, and Electrical) receive ABET accreditation 

September, 2009

B.Arch. program (five year) launched 


Revised Arts and Sciences Core takes effect 


First Certificate program launched – Middle Eastern Studies 

September 2011

The School of Arts and Sciences is formed with the Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (B.A.I.S.) launched as its first degree program 

January, 2012

ID, VC, and Architecture departments form in a new School of Architecture, Art and Design 

October, 2012

ABET accredits Mechanical Engineering program 

December, 2012

Granted SACSCOC Reaffirmation (ten-year re-accreditation) 

July, 2013

Ministry renews AUD license for five years

May, 2014

First B.A.I.S., B.Arch., M.Ed. and M.S.C.M. degrees granted

May, 2015

ACEJMC accredits B.C.I.S. program

April, 2016

CIDA accredits B.F.A. in Interior Design program

March, 2017

AUD unveils revised Mission and Statement of Philosophy

May, 2017

AUD holds its 20th Commencement Exercises

May, 2017

Visual Communication and Interior Design programs receive NASAD substantial equivalency

November, 2017

The School of Business Administration receives AACSB accreditation

December 2017

UAE Ministry of Education – Higher Education Affairs grants accreditation to the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

September 2018

UAE Ministry of Education – Higher Education Affairs grants accreditation to the Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA)