UAE's best universities: United Arab Emirates University

The National's guide to universities in the Emirates begins with this local institution established in 1976

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As thousands of final-year students in the UAE submit their applications to local universities, we take a look at some of the best higher education options in the Emirates and what they have to offer

Where does it originate?

Al Ain, the UAE's Garden City

When was it founded?


What is it?

United Arab Emirates University or UAEU is the first national university and one of the highest-ranked and largest higher education institutions in the country. It offers courses at bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels in a wide array of subjects. It is frequently ranked among the top in the UAE and Gulf.

Where is it based?

Al Ain

How did it handle Covid-19?

Prof Hassan Selim, professor of analytics in the digital era and director of the UAEU Centre of Excellence for Teaching & Learning, says the university had been working on virtual classrooms for years preceding the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The online learning management system adopted by the UAEU was shifted to the cloud, as the university has strived to adopt virtual classrooms for years, before the pandemic.

"Rather than having a few faculty members shifting online, all UAEU faculty were able to, thanks to the cloud’s massive capacity. The UAEU team’s experience with the switch from traditional face-to-face to remote teaching and learning was smooth and successful. At the start of this academic year, the university looked to gradually shift back to face-to-face learning.

"It was suggested to adopt HyFlex teaching and learning modality, which combines hybrid and flexibility and allows remote learners to attend face-to-face sessions while at home. Overall, the pandemic has had a positive influence on the university, as it began inviting international speakers to conduct webinars to its faculty, which widened their experience and their knowledge.

"Today, the university is working to provide the very first micro master’s online, which are not widespread in the region due to scepticism and hesitation in recognising online degrees."

What are the fees?

Dh228,000 – bachelor’s degree in the humanities and social sciences (120 credit hours at Dh1,900 per credit hour. This is the fee for international students)

Dh250,000 – bachelor’s degree in food and agriculture (120 credit hours at Dh2,500 per credit hour. This is the fee for international students)

Dh99,000 – master of professional accounting (36 credit hours at Dh2,750 per credit hour)

Dh86,400 – master of business administration (48 credit hours at Dh1,800 per credit hour. This is the fee for Al Ain students. Costs can vary by campus)

Dh129,600 – doctor of philosophy (54 credit hours at Dh2,400 per credit hour)

What subject areas does it teach?

Bachelor’s degrees include: accounting, agricultural resource management, Arabic language and literature, biochemistry, biology, business administration, chemistry, computer science, dietetics, economics, education (various sub-disciplines), engineering (various sub-disciplines), finance and economics, food science, geography, geosciences, horticulture, information security, information technology, law, linguistics, marine fisheries and animal science, mass communication, nutritional science, physics, political science, psychology, social work, speech language pathology, statistics and data analytics, tourism studies and veterinary medicine. (Only majors are listed, and the university offers minors in many additional subjects).

Master’s degrees include: business administration, chemistry, clinical psychology, education, educational innovation, engineering (various sub-disciplines), engineering management, environmental sciences, food science, governance and public policy, horticulture, human nutrition, information security, information technology management, mathematics, medical sciences, molecular biology and biotechnology, physics, private law, professional accounting, public health, public law, remote sensing and geographic information systems, social work, software engineering, space science and water resources.

Doctoral degrees include: biomedical sciences, business administration, cellular and molecular biology, chemistry, ecology and environmental sciences, engineering (various sub-disciplines), food science and technology, geosciences, horticultural sciences, informatics and computing, language and literacy education, law, leadership and policy studies in education, mathematics, mathematics education, medicine, nutritional sciences, pharmacy, physics, public health, science education and special education.

What doesn’t it teach as majors?

Anthropology, archaeology, criminology, dentistry, geology, history, journalism, marketing, modern languages, music, philosophy, politics, sociology and sports science. (some of these subjects are taught as minors)

Where is it ranked globally?

284th – QS World University Rankings

351st - 400th – Times Higher Education World University Rankings

Who goes there?

There are 14,385 students (13,007 undergraduate, 1,378 postgraduate). The best-represented country is the UAE, followed by Oman, Yemen and Jordan.

Who has gone there?

- Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, who graduated in political science.

- Amjad Abu Alala, a UAE-born and raised Sudanese film and television producer and director. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from UAEU.

- Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, who was the President of the Federal National Council from 2015 to 2019. She took a bachelor’s degree in architecture at UAEU and later returned to the university as an assistant professor.

A word from Prof Ghaleb Alhadrami, vice chancellor:

"UAEU is the nation’s first and the leading comprehensive national university with more than 71,000 alumni and is continuously focused on the future-readiness of our graduates.

"We are an innovative, socially conscious university that places the student at the heart of what we do.

"Our mission is to ensure that each graduate has the skills, attitudes, knowledge, and spirit of entrepreneurship they need to take-up their roles as leaders of social, economic, and cultural advancement, nationally and globally.

"Our faculty are distinguished scholars and academic leaders in the comprehensive range of disciplines offered by our nine academic colleges and 10 specialist centres of advanced research.

"Their active research programmes ensure undergraduate and postgraduate curriculums address the latest developments in their fields and involve doctoral students in cutting-edge techniques and international research collaborations. All students enjoy our rich campus experience, a safe living-learning residential environment, and continuously updated educational resources and technologies.

"We welcome talented students from within the UAE and around the world to join our academic community, to prepare for and advance their careers.

"Your future is our vision."

Updated: April 18, 2022, 8:40 AM