The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a small country in the Arab Peninsula but has an expansive influence on the world’s economy. A trailblazer in architecture and engineering, the UAE is known for the Burj Khalifa and advancements in the oil industry.

This multicultural country is also a global intellectual hub. The United Arab Emirates is one of the best in the world when it comes to national investment in higher education. This makes the UAE a worthy study abroad destination for students looking for a blend of modernity and culture. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in UAE for international students.

Top Universities in the United Arab Emirates for International Students

1. United Arab Emirates University (UAEU)

The United Arab Emirates University was founded in 1976 and is the best university in UAE for international students. It is located in Al Ain, or the City of Oasis, which offers a safe learning environment within a cosmopolitan city. The UAEU is committed to teaching and research excellence across nine colleges and was the first national university to launch Ph.D. programs. Today, they provide undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs in business, education, information technology, law, medicine, engineering, science, agriculture, and humanities.

The UAEU presently has over 25% of enrolled international students from more than 64 countries. To support them better, they have pre-university courses in Arabic and English. As the flagship university of the UAE, the UAEU continuously ranked first in the region and among the top worldwide, especially in research work and as a Business School.

2. Khalifa University (KU)

Khalifa University was established as a merger of several technical universities. The goal is to support a knowledge-based economy for the state’s post-oil future. KU is notable for its Institute for International and Civil Security (IICS) which is considered an authority on national and global security. Besides IICS, this top university in UAE is known for global academic partnerships with the Georgia Institute of Technology, KAIST, Texas A&M University, and many others.

Khalifa University has a main campus in Abu Dhabi and a subsidiary campus in Sharjah, where they offer Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. degree programs in science, engineering, and medicine. Their international student body also enjoys state-of-the-art laboratories, student hubs, and sporting facilities.

3. University of Sharjah (UOS)

The University of Sharjah, one of the best universities in the UAE for international students, is a private national university and offers the most accredited programs in the UAE. Most programs in science, business, engineering, and communication are internationally accredited which makes the university a hub for degree-seeking foreign nationals. Having been founded in 1997, the UOS has expanded rapidly and presently has 14 colleges with over 111 diverse academic programs.

The university’s multicultural community includes more than 17,000 students and 668 faculty members with notable international experiences. Their campus in the University City is reminiscent of Islamic and Arabic heritage architecture but houses modern laboratories, libraries, IT infrastructure, sports complexes, student centers, and many other amenities.

4. American University of Sharjah (AUS)

The American University of Sharjah is a private institution in Sharjah and is known as one of the “most international” universities in the UAE. It is based on the American model of higher education while at the same time grounded in Arab culture. This independent university offers undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. degree programs in the sciences, engineering, business administration, and architecture, art, and design.

For two consecutive years, the AUS has topped all Arab universities for the most number of international students. After all, the AUS boasts internationally accredited programs, and all subjects are taught in English as well.

5. Zayed University (ZU)

Zayed University is a public institution of higher education and was the first internationally accredited federal university in the UAE. It proudly carries the name of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the country. Today, this top university in UAE for international students comprises eight colleges across varying disciplines, including education, natural sciences, humanities, arts, and technology, to name a few.

Zayed University has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai that prepare local and international students to contribute to society. ZU offers the General Education Program for the first two semesters before students progress to their output-based programs. Besides these, students enjoy cultural and recreational activities hosted by the university.

FAQs about Studying in the United Arab Emirates

Is the United Arab Emirates Good for International Students to Study?

International students will find world-class public and private universities across the country’s seven emirates. According to a study by the British Council, the UAE ranked 2nd for quality assurance and 5th for openness and mobility across 38 countries globally.

Aside from high-quality education and a welcoming environment, most institutions have English programs available. Tuition fees are considered high for some programs, but only because these are globally accredited partnered with state-of-the-art learning facilities, and taught by accomplished faculty.

The UAE is known for a high standard of living and the best universities are located in cosmopolitan cities, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Thus, students may expect to pay 4400 UAE Dirham or 1198 USD monthly for an apartment and utilities. The good news is, there are plenty of scholarship opportunities and the possibility of part-time work in the thriving country.

Can International Students Work in the United Arab Emirates While Studying?

According to the UAE Ministry of Human Resources, both local and foreign university students can work alongside their studies. Students over 18 years old should also secure a work permit and residence permit. They can work for up to six hours but not more than four hours consecutively. There should be at least one hour’s break to pray and eat.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Can International Students Stay in the United Arab Emirates After Graduation?

Beginning in 2018, the United Arab Emirates has announced residency opportunities for international students who wish to stay in the state. Aside from the five-year student visa, students who perform exceptionally well will be granted a 10-year residency visa. Those who are dependents of their parents will be granted a one-year residence visa which is renewable for another year.


We hope that this article on the best universities in the United Arab Emirates for international students was helpful. To know more information like this, check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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