Studying and Living in Dubai

Global Ed

The pandemic has briefly grounded us. But not for long. Life will return to normal and we will want to travel and students will pursue their global ed dreams.

We do an in-depth on Dubai – one of the fastest growing cities in the world, and a popular destination for tourists and students alike in the United Arab Emirates – UAE. Two decades ago, Dubai had just one skyscraper. Today, it is home to over 400 skyscrapers and is known for its smart buildings and Arab architecture.

That, however, is not nearly all. Dubai is now getting recognized as a destination for higher education.

Here you’ll find international campuses of universities from top global ed destinations including the UK, Australia, United States, Canada, and even India offer some of the best study abroad programs in the UAE. Dubai, therefore, offers you a variety of educational options that, perhaps, others do not offer.

Studying in Dubai

The UAE is an academically thriving country and has a high literacy rate of 93%, with 70% of university graduates being women. This, in itself, promises you a rewarding global ed experience should you choose Dubai to pursue your higher education.

In Dubai, (UAE in general), you will find that the education system is divided into three categories, i.e.

  • Public schools
  • Private schools
  • Higher educational institutes in Dubai

Assuming that you would’ve completed 10+2 and looking for further education, you will be looking for institutions falling under the higher education institutions.

The higher education institutions in Dubai- UAE are required to be recognized by the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA), which is a part of the Ministry of Education. Particularly in Dubai, there are two local governing bodies under the Ministry of Education, i.e.

  • The Dubai Education Council
  • Knowledge and Human Development Authority

The higher education institutions offer variety of higher education programs that include:

  • Associate’s degree
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Master’s degree
  • Doctoral degree
  • Vocational courses

In Dubai, there are a total of five public and 58 private colleges and universities. The universities in Dubai are categorized into two types:

  • Local universities, founded and based in Dubai
  • International campuses of global universities

Dedicated zone for higher education

However, what makes Dubai stand out as a global ed destination is its commitment to higher education – which is evident from the fact that it is home to the “world’s largest free zone dedicated to higher education and the pursuit of intellectual growth”. We’re talking about the Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) that was founded in  2007 with a vision to cater to the needs of the area’s diverse academic community.

The DIAC consists of many regional and international colleges and universities and is home to more than 27,000 students from all parts of the world. If offers more than 500 undergraduate and post-graduate programmes. This is one of the reasons why Dubai has become a hub for international education.


A total of 13 universities from UAE are featured in the QS Arab Region University Rankings 2020 out of which four featured universities are in Dubai, i.e.

  • Zayed University: Rank 20
  • American University in Dubai: Rank 24
  • Canadian University Dubai: Rank 41
  • University of Dubai: Rank 51-60

Additionally, QS World University Rankings® 2021 features eight universities from UAE including one local public university from Dubai.

  • Zayed University: Rank 701-750

Several globally ranked universities from across the global have opened their own campus in Dubai like the University of Birmingham which is among the Top 100 Global University. Among the top names from QS World.

University Rankings® 2021 with a campus in Dubai include (ranked in order)

Public universities in Dubai

The five public universities in Dubai are:

  • Zayed University
  • Afraaz University
  • Higher Colleges of Technology
  • Dubai Medical College for Girls
  • Emirates College for Management & Information Technology

Private universities in Dubai

There are 58 private universities in Dubai which consist of both local and campus-based universities. Some of the other popular private universities (local & campus-based) in Dubai (including globally ranked universities) are:

  • University of Dubai
  • American University in Dubai
  • Canadian University Dubai
  • HULT International Business School
  • MODUL university in Dubai
  • SP Jain School of Global Management
  • Murdoch University Dubai
  • London Business School Dubai
  • Middlesex University Dubai
  • University of Brandford

Popular higher education programs in Dubai – UAE

Among the most popular courses taken up by international students in Dubai include-

  • Civil Engineering
  • Business Administration (MBA)
  • Architecture
  • Aviation
  • Medical Science
  • Information Technology

According to a study published by the UAE MoE ‘Majors in Demand’, Engineering and Education subjects are among the most in demand degrees in the labour market. Other subject includes Business Admin, Medical Sciences, IT, Environmental & Health Science, and Art & Humanities.

educational institutes in dubai

Source: Ministry of Education

This list should help you choose the right course or subject by looking at the current Job Market in the UAE.

Living in Dubai

Universities in Dubai are spread across the city, however, there are two popular academic districts in Dubai, i.e.

  • Dubai Knowledge Park
  • Dubai International Academic City (DIAC)

DIAC is recognised (regionally) as a hub for universities, e-learning academies, professional training centres, and R&D companies.

Dubai is considered one of the most expensive cities to live in UAE. That said, nature of accommodation, food, entertainment, transportation etc will determine your actual cost of living. According to Inter Nations Go, an international relocation service company, the cost of living for a single person (monthly) is estimated at 9,420 AED (approx. 1,90,000 INR).

The one way of controlling the high-cost of living is to opt for student accommodation from the university.


Dubai offers unending places to visit and freshen yourself outside the universities. Some of the popular sightseeing places include:

  • Burj Khalifa: Currently the world’s tallest building dominating the skyline of Dubai.
  • The Dubai Mall: Considered as the largest shopping mall in the world, the mall not only lets you shop but also lets you enjoy the sigh of Burj Khalifa
  • The Dubai Fountain: A fountain that majestically falls in the 30-acre Burj Khalifa Lake
  • Global Village Dubai: Claimed to combine cultures of over 90 countries, the Global Village is one of the world’s largest tourism, leisure, shopping and entertainment project.
  • Ski Dubai: This is the largest indoor ski resort for a desert country.

Working in Dubai

Dubai also offers a great post-study work opportunity. Here are the details:

  • As per the decision announced on 24 November 2018, the UAE government students studying in the UAE will be granted a 5-year visa in an effort to help students take forward their career.
  • Top performing students are eligible to apply for the 10-year residency visa scheme which otherwise is for the specialists in medical, scientific, research and technical fields.

Students can also take up a part-time-job while studying according to the Dubai Development Authority’s new student part-time employment regulation, i.e.

  • Students enrolled at the 23 academic institutions in Dubai’s creative clusters where students can choose from over 4,500 companies located in the cluster. Find out of you are eligible here.
  • Students can then work up to 20 hours a week after permissions is granted by the university

Among the best things about studying in Dubai is the chance to have a life-changing experience by studying in a multi-cultural environment –  almost 80% of its residents are expats or immigrants. This will open you to a diverse culture and give you a multi-cultural learning experience.

So, are you ready to pursue your global ed journey in Dubai?


Find out also, can online education replace traditional education?

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