The Uncomfortable Nature Of NYU Abu Dhabi

Have you ever been somewhere where things didn’t feel quite right? Perhaps you had a vague sense of unease or a growing discomfort about being there, like if you were at a party with the wrong crowd. I know this feeling very well.

I was employed at NYU Abu Dhabi from August 2011 until May 2012. I was working as a “Global Academic Fellow” as a freshly minted graduate of NYU in New York. My job title was a bit frothier than my actual responsibilities, which largely consisted of teaching assistant work in various capacities. I helped students become better writers, taught economics recitations, and generally tried to offer some insight from an older student perspective (all of the students at the time were freshmen and sophomores).

I truly enjoy teaching and have continued as a tutor now that I am back in the United States. But I won’t hide the fact that I took the job for reasons other than the job description. I saw a chance to get a great, short-term job (contracted for one school year) within my university. The benefits package was outstanding — plentiful vacation time, a good salary, and fully covered room and board. More than anything, I could live abroad for a year with an income that enabled me to explore a part of the world I hadn’t yet seen.

In the previous year, I had already been engaging with NYU Abu Dhabi, but in a much different way. As the editor of NYU Local, an independent student news publication, I had been critical of the university’s position in Abu Dhabi as the UAE government cracked down on free speech from prominent academics.

That crackdown continued while I was in Abu Dhabi and hasn’t slowed since I left. An American man was just sentenced to a year in prison for making a YouTube parody video.

NYUAD students had seen my writing, and when I was being interviewed for the job, I was warned about some students being a bit hostile towards me. I was also questioned about my interest in taking the job — was I trying to do some sort of exposé?

That was not the case. I had heard enough good things about the student body that I really did want to be involved. I was persauded by John Sexton’s points that NYU could act as a way to start to shift the attitudes of the gulf leaders, leading to more democratic ideals and increasing free speech.

Certainly, my experience on campus was little different from what I would have experienced back in New York. Discussion in classrooms was lively and uncensored. Students tended to avoid talking about the troubling politics of the region in the classes I was in, but we sure talked about it a lot amongst staff. Internet access was unrestricted (even if there was an unsettling knowledge that everything was being monitored by Tamkeen, a sort-of watchdog intermediary between the university and the government).

I watched porn, read global newspapers (not the censored fluff coming out of the National, the UAE’s local paper), and traveled freely.

But that sense of unease was there right from the start. I was among the elite in Abu Dhabi, not in the sense of being an oil billionaire like some of the Emiratis, but in the sense that I lived in a beautiful high rise studio apartment, had rights granted to me that weren’t bestowed on the vast majority of the local population, and earned a salary that enabled me not to think twice about buying $9 pints of beer at the hotel bars.

The students were, on the whole, great. I met intelligent young men and women from all over the world, got roasted playing soccer with them, and enjoyed teaching them. Many of the professors I worked with are still friends and the university seems poised to graduate some great kids this year.

But that dread lingered. How nice it was to enjoy the constant air conditioning and eat unlimited buffet food. But right outside the door there were literally thousands of Pakistanis, Nepalese, Indians, Filipinos, and other migrant workers slaving in hard, physical labor for a pittance. The disconnect between the wealthy Emiratis and Westerners and the working class was truly unlike anything I’ve seen.

The huge majority of the population in the UAE are these migrant laborers, building the vast skyscrapers, luxury villas, six star hotels, and other playgrounds for the wealthy. There’s nothing inherently wrong about the UAE’s love for opulence, but it is like living in a bifurcated city. On the streets, you see the workers, eating in their own restaurants. You never see Emiratis.

And those workers are the lucky ones, the ones with small businesses and time to spare. There are thousands more shuttled around outside of the public eye, living in labor camps and working long, difficult hours on construction projects on Saadiyat Island, the location of NYU’s soon-to-be permanent campus.

This place is devoid of real culture. The art? Imported. The music? Global pop stars performing lifelessly on tours.

Honestly, the local culture feels more authentic when you’re eating delicious Pakistani food in a hole in the wall restaurant at a fraction of the price of a “gourmet” restaurant.

I am surprised that the NYUAD students can comfortably live in that country for four years. I had to leave. The highlights of my 10 month appointment were in my travels outside of the UAE. Rock climbing on the Omani coast, partying in Beirut, exploring Istanbul.

As much as I would have loved to spend another year traveling, I couldn’t justify another year in Abu Dhabi. That is not an indictment of the university or the students there. They are very bright and many — if not most — will go on to do some great things.

But can they shed the entitlement? I took a group of students on a UAE tour for Spring Break — we stayed in luxury resorts and ate amazing meals. All for free. (What’s funny is that I remember the more mundane parts of that trip more fondly, like having our bus get stuck in the desert sand and having to try to dig it out.)

Almost everything is free for the NYUAD students. Tuition, housing, food, travel. Many students take advantage of their trips home by stopping in exotic places for a quick vacation. The airfare is covered.

It is undeniably amazing that poor students from far flung countries can get the kind of education that they get at NYUAD for free. But, for many, is the culture doing more harm than good? What do you learn from getting everything handed to you and living in a country where you are literally given rights others don’t get?

It made me uncomfortable. It still does. Did I sell out? Were the gilded benefits of my job tamping down my earlier criticism of the Abu Dhabi campus?

I was moved to write this piece — the first writing I’ve done about my experience there since taking the job — because of this Guardian exposé. Read it for yourself. Migrant workers are living in truly terrible conditions as they work long hours in brutal weather for very little money.

I saw this all around me. The UAE government says they’re trying to fix this. They show promotional videos of some luxurious labor camps. But that is not the reality for many of the young men working in the country.

NYU has said they are independently monitoring the conditions of the workers. (Certainly, those I saw working directly with students (i.e. kitchen staff, janitors, etc.) at NYUAD were being treated fairly.) But what do I see right upon opening up the article? The journalist followed a bus back from the NYU job site and saw men packed ten to a room, cooking in a grimy kitchen. Couldn’t some of the many millions of dollars being poured into the NYUAD project be diverted to giving these people a proper salary and decent place to live?

Watch this video from the Guardian (can’t embed iframes here).

How can this be happening?

I am tired of hearing about “cultural relativism” and arguments about these workers choosing to come to Abu Dhabi. You don’t have to read far in the Guardian piece to see that workers are not always making decisions of their own volition.

This exploitation is FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG and it is truly upsetting to see NYU Abu Dhabi allowing this to happen on their campus. Is it really worth it? Does NYU so desperately need to become a “global leader” in education that they are willing to compromise on basic values in order to get a glitzy campus paid for by someone else?

I am, of course, implicated in this. I worked and lived there, and as much as I can try to tell myself otherwise, I participated in the debauchery of the wealthy elite. Fine dining, partying, globehopping. It was fun, I was comfortable, but I knew I had to get the hell out.

I am not the only one. I find it hard to imagine that NYU Abu Dhabi will have a lot of success at landing standing faculty. Many of the professors I worked with have already left. In the economics courses, some professors would come for just nine weeks (surely being paid lavishly for their time). It’s tough for students to connect to professors when they leave halfway through the semester.

It takes someone with a stronger stomach than me to live there for years. That’s not to say there aren’t great people doing great work in Abu Dhabi, but a lot of people are just floating along earning a lot of money and just looking the other way.

I am still very hopeful for the NYU campus there; I think the people working on the project are very interested in seeing students succeed. The campus is about to graduate its first Rhodes scholar, an impressive distinction for such a young university.

Perhaps over time the “values” of Western education can start to permeate in the UAE. But that sounds more like lip service rationalizing of having a campus there. This is a walled garden for elite students — a tiny Vatican in the center of a greedy, laissez faire country.

For Abu Dhabi, I think this is just another imported Western “brand” — they are also bringing in the Guggenheim and the Louvre. Is it about having great art and education? Or is it about one upping the rest of the gulf countries and becoming more “respected?”

The students vigorously defend their school, as I’m sure I would if I attended. But perhaps they, too, have that little bit of unease about being there and being showered with free everything.

Can the ones who are uncomfortable with the treatment of workers stand up and say something? In class, sure. But in the newspaper? In the public sphere? Can they protest the government or even their own university?

All I can tell you is that I wouldn’t have written this if I was still living in Abu Dhabi.

Note: This may be upsetting to former NYU and NYU Abu Dhabi associates and colleagues. I want to be clear that I think the work being put in by NYU staff, faculty, and students is excellent and worthy of praise. But there needs to be a higher standard of treatment for the laborers working on this project — I hope this helps make that a reality.

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58 Comments

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58 responses to “The Uncomfortable Nature Of NYU Abu Dhabi

  1. Pingback: A Former NYU Local EIC Writes About His Time In NYU Abu Dhabi’s “Walled Garden” · NYU Local

  2. vicki

    You continue to be unafraid. Keep writing.

    • jim duncan

      Yes there are labor problems in all of the Middle Eastern states. People chose to come here to work for paltry wages, but having said that, it’s by choice not by force.

      Its sad that for all the good the university represents, one chooses to highlight the negative aspects that are more government controlled, than anything driven by NYUAD .

      NYUAD has been fair enough to give entry to all students with an excellence in academics, irrespective of their culture, religion, nationality or social status.

      It has given opportunity to the underprivileged and I have witnessed so many brilliant yet economically deprived students wanting to give back to similar such students in their home countries. The funding given by the government of Abu Dhabi also does not discriminate or coerce as to who should get to join the university. The students I have met true indeed eat well and live in good accommodation, but if they are putting in 16 hours a day and are living away from home, I’m glad that someone from NYUAD were in their senses to ensure that the environment was conductive to assist their students in focusing on their academics. It’s a case of penny wise pound foolish.

      I for one think that in the Middle East where privileges are only bestowed on their citizens and there are distinct differentiations in the treatment of religious minorities, its great to see the government of Abu Dhabi and the management of NYUAD teaching the world how shed their differences and see each other as they would themselves.

      It is by this much needed educational system that NYUAD has brought to the Middle East, disparity will be tackled, benefits to laborers will be restored and today’s students will be those that shape the Middle East and help bridge the differences in opinions and values between the West and them, while still maintaining their rich culture and values

  3. This dude graduated from NYU and worked at NYU Abu Dhabi for a year. His post here is very general, but nevertheless important as a testimony from the inside. I really despise how he repeatedly says that he’s not trying to dis those working there and how he still “hopes much” off this abusive project. This university is clearly a failure when it functions under heavy censorship and with professors getting shit loads of money to teach for very short time and leave. These students cannot learn much from these western professors who are not interested in the mission of educating and conversing with them. Those highly-paid professors are certainly responsible too for the plight of migrant workers building their new campus and for whitewashing UAE’s oppression and violations of freedom of speech.
    All these outsources american universities in the Gulf (and other places) are nothing but corporations. Qatar and the UAE are heavily invested in getting as many of them as possible to prevent their financially-capable citizens from studying abroad and getting political. They want everything to function under their control.

  4. If you really feel that bad about this, why don’t you give the money back?

    You were hired to do a job, you were offered a salary for it, you did the job and got the money. End of the story.

    Enough with the supposedly guilty-feeling rant. You want to make yourself feel better about it, go and hire all those “slaves” for what you consider a “decent salary”, then. You can’t? Well then don’t bash those who hired them and give them an alternative to starvation in their home countries.

  5. Anonymous

    I agree with Lucas, if you feel so bad about it then why don’t you return every single penny spent on you back to the university or make a donation of that same amount to those migrant workers? Guess you wouldn’t because you’re an UNGRATEFUL, SELFISH, HYPOCRITICAL bitch.

    And you “wouldn’t have written this if you were still living in Abu Dhabi”, probably because you were too busy watching PORN in your laptop (probably financed by the university), partying in Beirut (with the money you earned from the university) and drinking in hotels (also financed by the university). You were loving it. If you found the situation in the UAE so bad, why didn’t you quit on the first day and saved the university’s money that could have gone to giving student’s around the world (maybe the children of those poor migrant workers) a scholarship to further their education?

    • Allen

      It’s quite interesting to read the comments written by the Emiratis.

      Pride for their country blinds them. They would rather discredit the messenger than have the courage to face the truth of their country’s exploitation and ask the difficult moral questions.

      Do they even see these non-citizen Southeast Asian workers as equals? Do they even see them as human? When the money is easy there’s no need to think.

      • Anonymous

        I’m not Emirati….. I’m actually someone who’s lived in multiple countries to see inequality happening everywhere. Don’t blame a university that provides so many opportunities for its students and positive effects for the country on the effects of capitalism and the hypocritical, biased nature of the author.

  6. Well, no, I don’t think this is true entirely. There is poverty and division between the poor and the rich in every country, please. Don’t criticise NYU for providing its students with great conditions to learn – it does so just like we would expect any great new institution do to today. Students at NYUAD come from truly different backgrounds and some of them are high and middle class. Some of them, on the other hand, are very socially endangered, poor, homeless and orphaned. If you ask me if they should feel bad about getting a scholarship that helps them further develop their talents – no, I don’t think they should. In every country there are people who are well-off and those who are not. Had the author left campus and truly explored Abu Dhabi he would find out that not all of the labourers are in the same conditions. There is much that plays into it. NYU can’t just show up in the Middle East and start revolutions – teach freedom of speech, accept homosexuality, social equity and so many other values. NYU can’t help the wealth being distributed properly to everyone right now. But that’s not a great argument to make in favour of it not being there at all or it being ‘uncomfortable’. You obviously don’t understand how revolutionary our presence there is already and how many changes could happen in the future. Can’t you make the same lame argument for anyone living in great conditions while others suffer? Yes, there are people in horrible conditions in the US and Europe – minorities that are treated horribly. Should any institution providing its students with what they need to become great just close down because someone out there is not doing great? Please, revise your logic.

  7. Anonymous

    I’m not here to argue, I’m here to defend my university and my country. Yes, I am an NYUAD emirati student.
    1st – I liked the fact that you used “Guardian exposé” to prove that workers are being treated as slaves, but the thing you fail to understand is that “Guardian exposé” exposed some slavery issues in Qatar than came to the UAE. Why only Qatar and the UAE? why not Oman, Saudi Arabia or Bahrain? Is it because UAE and Qatar are richest and most successful Arab countries? Oh, I don’t think you thought about that.

    2nd- Those workers get a salary that is between 1000-1500 and they get free meals, they do not work in the afternoon when it is hot, they live in a clean, neat and a safe place that they cannot find back in their homes and they can go home whenever they want. This is their job, no one forced them to do it. There are bad jobs in this world, but i do not think the workers In the UAE have the worst. I myself have a cook, he gets a place to live, free food and get’s 1000AED a month just to clean my apartment and make me a single meal a day which is lunch. I think he is having a better life than you do actually.

    3rd- Do not generalize. It is not my fault that a greedy motherfucker is using workers and torturing them. There are criminals everywhere, not only in the UAE. Those are Criminals, I’m not one of them. You want to see cruelty? go see their countries, not the country that is treating them well. There is not a single worker that is starving or sleeping in the streets. The country you’re talking about is one of the countries that have no homeless people. Not a single homeless person.

    I can’t believe you graduated from NYU, you are just another stereotypical redneck that hates arab and success, but love money for sure

    • liz

      you’re so vapid it hurts.

    • anon

      You’re saying you are not at fault for the greedy motherfuckers torturing workers, but theres so much more to the UAE. If you do some real research you’ll find the the richest of the rich that surround you, are in the human trafficking business, delivering woman to rich mens’ footsteps AND SO MUCH MORE. Oh and choosing to talk about the UAE is irrational because Oman and Saudi Arabia is doing it too? Are you a fucking child? Thats like saying “dont blame me for murdering someone, OTHERS ARE DOING IT TOO”

      “they do not work in the afternoon when it is hot, they live in a clean, neat and a safe place that they cannot find back in their homes and they can go home whenever they want. This is their job, no one forced them to do it.”
      ^In response to this, after watching the footage from NUMEROUS news outlets (vice, the guardian, etc) how can you say they have clean and fair working conditions?
      And you have no idea what conditions the workers are in back home. For all you know, they are better. The recruiters go to countries like Bangladesh and tell LIES about what they’ll find in the UAE, and some are known to even take away their passports when they arrive, so they cant simply go back home, and anywhere outside of their camps, they are considered illegals. This is coming out of the mouth of a bangladeshi firsthand, this interview you can easily find on vice.com

      You might not be one of these greedy motherfuckers but you sure are living comfortably among them. And the author didnt have the stomach to stay so he left.

      Also, you have a fucking cook working for you! And you dare talk about what its like for those workers. HOLY SHIT HOW ARE YOU IN NYU AD DSFAKJSKLADJF YOU PRIVILEGED FUCK. People like you are the reason the world is the way it is today.

    • X

      you do know they cannot go home whenever they want, dont you? Their passports are seized.

  8. Abu Dhabi

    Anyone who says that the UAE is “devoid of real culture” and that all art is “imported” and music is only “global pop stars” is the worst kind of UAE resident — the kind of person who is so lazy and idiotic in their Western-centricism that they don’t actually investigate the country beyond the shiny venire that their cushy job pays for. You call yourself a journalist? Learn some goddamn Urdu or Arabic and actually talk to people instead of talking for them and leaving the country so you can party in Beirut and experience “real culture.”

    It’s disturbing that you think you can speak with some kind of authority on this place. Go take your white Westerner guilt to a therapist.

    And this. Oh, this: “Honestly, the local culture feels more authentic when you’re eating delicious Pakistani food in a hole in the wall restaurant at a fraction of the price of a “gourmet” restaurant.” You mean the country didn’t live up to your Orientalist fantasy of how exotic you thought it should be, so you ate in a cheap restaurant every once in awhile to feel like you were really getting that foreign exchange feelin’, huh? Disgusting.

    When you do something about fixing your own racially segregated backyard that must be your tidy little hipster enclave in New York City, then we’ll talk.

    • Yasmeen E. Stewart

      Here is what I think, I have lived all my life in UAE and Abu Dhabi. I watched it grow out of a dust bowl! Literally that was all there was nothing but a few roads stretching through the desert, a highway, a new airport and the now dismantled and replaced old corniche on my arrival 30 years ago. (The attached article photo and the article does not in anyway express the tremendous progress made in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi.)

      It is great for western educated journalists to come over and do useless smear pieces but does it allow the Middle East to progress? Or does it once again in clever propaganda style justify bombing and abuse of a region unable to come up for air with the onslaught of war. Sorry with all the righteous indignation are you from New York? Can you sit in a cafe and eat while a bum on the street eats out of a garbage can? (60 million American homeless) Who are you kidding? Where on earth does justice for the poor exist exactly?

      Does your indignation come at the Middle East’s attempt at progress? Ironically a progress dictated by western powers and hampered by the division of the Arab world by those western powers that have left more wealth with some than others. The diabolical plan was implemented by these western powers playing upon mans basic greed to keep the region from any real progress. Coupling that with hand picked often despotic rulers that heed the U.S. state departments terms.

      Despite these hindrances UAE has been the largest charitable donator of any Arab nation with 100’s of billion dollars being donated world wide. I am personally tired of this parachute journalism with people who have no real attachment or love of the Middle East region that they are reporting on.

      Please now that you are home point fingers at the injustice and be warned you will be needing to use your toes to cover the global and domestic injustices perpetrated by the American government against the Middle East, it’s people and the world!

      Abu Dhabi Migrant workers being treated unfairly? Go to California or check any illegal immigrants in the United States there or perhaps the prostitutes in Brooklyn brought over illegally by the Russian Mob as literally modern day slaves! Use your holier then thou morality on your compatriots! The Middle East is barley breathing if you had not noticed. So turn that laser beam insight on American immorality.

      Having said that addressing your supposed concerns: UAE labour law and economic laws are atrocious! They are far to slanted to the minority local population. They need reform in a major way if UAE will be a genuine global economic power but Rome was not built in a day and UAE is ranked one of the top 20 happiest places to live by the U.N.

      Give the Middle East a break and you heard it here first Abu Dhabi has a bright future and with time they will build a spectacular nation despite having their proverbial political hands tied firmly behind their back.

      • K

        The UN list for Happiest places to live is properly called the human development index. In 2013, UAE was ranked #42. In 2012, #30. In 2011, #32. In fact, the UAE has never made it past #30. Moreover, The UN implemented in 2010 an Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index. So far, UAE has yet to provide the Inequality adjusted information. My point isn’t about where the UAE ranks in a scale you stand by. Just don’t make up things to support a point, it shows how weak your entire argument is when you do.

        Don’t play the victim card for Abu Dhabi as if it has no independent choice in its domestic and foreign affairs. Lets look back at the Arab Spring where Saudi, Qatar and Abu Dhabi all were complicit and provided military support to completely put down the peaceful democratic protests occurring in Bahrain.

        Abu Dhabi will never intrinsically become a Rome. If it happens to reach that status, it’ll be because it will have imported everything.

      • Yousef Akanan

        Just for u Yasmeen-not to be taken by too much pride-those homeless bum who r sleeping in the streets r the jobless drug addict people who refused to work and be normal in life-but a hard working being who does the hard and dirty work for almost free, like those workers in the whole gulf and UAE, to be paid as they do in those rich countries is UNFAIR.
        By the way, I lived 8 years in Brooklyn-NY, and never seen some one sleeping in the streets-I worked as a Taxi driver, for some years, and worked until very late and all over places in NY-never seen one sleeping in the street!!!????

      • Dear Yasmeen,
        I trust that you have finally paid your driver and cleaning lady,after more than one year with no salary working for you whilst you had your special little beauty treatments.
        I trust you and Barry Swayn have finally retrieved your confiscated passports, in Barry’s case confiscated for more than 5 years whilst I was critically ill in hospital. In Sydney….able to talk on the phone only.
        My passport given to you as a deposit, overnight to allow a migrant Phillipino worker to return home to marry ( he in virtual slavery working for you with no pay) was a mistake on my part out of my love and respect for Barry Swayn.
        Nonetheless a mistake: as it expired I have since renewed all my personal documents to prevent misuse by criminals.
        Regarding the project document for my concept ” The Village Resort Group” based on treating people worldwide with normal dignity and fairness( eg create Resort Communities)… This was not a gift from me to you, or to Barry or anyone else….the mistreatment of other humans and theft of their intellectual property,by Sheikhs, Royalty or Business Tycoons and Celebrities….or anyone else for that matter is not talent but theft and fraud. Shirk not Sheikh….basically not faith based, and certainly not consistent with any Islamic Law.
        So when you grabbed the CD of my source Document for the Village Resort Group from my hand you dud so without my permission.
        It was stamped confidential, copyright and not for your use at all.
        It is and was Unique, from my soul.
        Perhaps American Law allows ” legal theft and fraud” as a discussion pointy

        Kind Regards
        Caroline Bannon
        Registered Architect

  9. HatersAreGonnaHate

    Dude, nice article. I see you are really trying to fight for equality here. But I think it would be more efficient to share the shit load of money you made with some of those workers–if you really wanna help them. It would definitely be more meaningful to them.And for your information, INEQUALITY is every where, not just in the UAE.
    I strongly believe that you guys are just frustrated and jealous–shit load of college debt …while students in AD are getting free education– of the success of the UAE…

    Haters are always gonna hate!

    • seriously?

      Dude, so after Charlie said NYUAD students suffer from a sense of entitlement, you comment and make fun of college students who are frustrated with debt and lack the financial privilege that student here have. I hope you’re a parody of an NYUAD student and not a real one.

  10. I find it ironic that you are writing about the divide among rich and poor in the UAE, from one of the most expensive cities in the world, NYC, where the divide between the rich and poor is only growing and the average rent is over $3000.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/wealth-gap-widest-new-york-city-article-1.1460454

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/09/new-york-city-rent_n_3568278.html

    In fact, it is not uncommon for our NY colleagues to commute 2+ hours to and from work simply because they cannot afford to raise a family in the city any longer. I was shocked by the number of homeless people in NY when I was there recently, yet I rarely, if ever, see any homeless people living on the streets in the UAE.
    I’m not going to deny that the UAE has a long way to go in some areas, including civil liberties and human rights, but we also can’t pretend that the US, or any other country, is perfect, yet no one ever wants to point that out. What about the migrant workers on the west coast, harvesting our fields, making very little and living in poor conditions, or those washing dishes and peeling onions in restaurants for next to nothing? Based on your logic, and those that share similar views, NYU should close up shop in the US then.

    https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/02-0

    http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/10/25/for-children-of-migrantworkersthefieldorthecar.html

    http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/jul/23/new-york-undocumented-workers-mistreatment

    I’m glad you (sort of) enjoyed the time you had in the UAE, and you are obviously entitled to share your thoughts, but don’t pretend that all is perfect back home. When you find the perfect place to live, let me know.

  11. An NYUAD student

    This article is a step in the good direction, even though it is in many many ways flawed and ends up discrediting you. I will elaborate more on how it is so. Just to get it out of the way, inequality in the UAE is definitely a real issue. I am genuinely interested in furthering this discussion, so here it goes:

    I am currently studying in NYUAD and I must say that I feel uncomfortable with the situation in the country. Inequality is everywhere in the world, but the thing with the UAE, inequality is right in your face. The UAE is a marvelous case study from so many perspectives. It is in many ways a microcosm of the entire world. Different economic strata, religions, ideologies, races, cultures…etc., clash in one single country. When you live in the UAE you cannot look the other way, you find small constant reminders everywhere… You see it in the way the laborers are treated, on the road, on construction sites, when you interact with them…etc. I also see it when I compare the standard of life that NYUAD, so generously, allows me to have, with that of the majority of people in the UAE.

    That having been said, we must not forget that when we buy outsourced products, we should feel just as uncomfortable. A big majority of international companies who outsource part/all of their production such as Nike, Apple, Gap, H&M, Next, Walmart…etc. treat their workers just as worse if not worse… But then again it is much easier to look the other way in this case, than it is in the UAE.

    This leads me the first weakness in your post. You approach the inequality (that truly is very real and bad in the UAE) from a condescending standpoint. You were uncomfortable when the inequality was in your face, so you left for the US, where a considerable part of the economy is based on international trade? (Non-fair trade to be more accurate…) Isn’t that hypocritical? Doesn’t the inequality in the USA also make you sick? It should. It personally makes me sick. This is of course not limited to the USA, such outsourced products can be found everywhere in the world.

    My second point is about the following: “This place is devoid of real culture. The art? Imported. The music? Global pop stars performing lifelessly on tours.” This point is by far the worst (sorry for being blunt). It completely destroys your credibility in my eyes. It seriously misleads people who are not knowledgeable about the UAE. After spending a year in NYUAD, it seems like you really missed out on a lot of things…things that were right in your face…Right outside of Sama Tower, on the way to the campus, you can find beautiful Arabic calligraphy covering the high barriers that hide the old Abu Dhabi Cultural Center. You must have gone on one of the NYUAD organized desert trips, that stuff is real not just a touristy thing. It is deeply embedded in the Emirati culture. Did you take time to appreciate the old style houses that the emiraties used to build? The natural ventilation towers, and how virtually everything was made out of the palm tree? How about pearl diving? The bedouins? Camel Racing? Camel beauty contests? How about the beautiful emirati music? The emirati dance? The beautiful Abayas and Kanduras? The poetry? The various art competitions? Isn’t that culture? Isn’t that Art?

    The inequality in the UAE is indeed sad and disturbing, just like is inequality in the rest of the worlds. Thus when approaching this issue, it is better to approach it from a holistic point of view. We need to acknowledge that inequality is an issue that is, very sadly, strongly embedded in the economical system that is capitalism. Capitalism is about optimization not fairness. The UAE only happens to be a special case where the inequality is near.

    The UAE has gone through such a mammoth transformation (economic, cultural, ethnic …etc.) within a short 30 years that several things went wrong. Some people like yourself choose to fight the wrong from the outside by criticizing it and raising international attention, while others like NYUAD tries to implement change from within. It will take time and we need to be patient, but still persistent. Change rarely occur overnight. This is why I believe NYUAD will be instrumental in implementing positive change in the UAE, and gradually resolving some of the issues the UAE is facing.

  12. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Young padawan, you experienced a dichotomy. It can make you uncomfortable given your age and limited experience in the world. Perhaps it is your first. In a dichotomy there is tension, which when discovered and interrogated can give rise to new thinking and advancement. For example, the fact that we are even discussing contrasts in eastern and western culture demonstrates that the NYU Abu Dhabi experiment is a unbridled success that is realizing the vision of John Sexton and the emir for fostering understanding among myriad perspectives on the world. Going forward, let’s not simply tolerate diversity in thought…let’s celebrate it!

    Although your analysis is naive, it is a welcome contribution to the dialog. I would agree with another commenter…you might ease your conscience if you would give your salary to one of the abused guest workers that apparently recounted their plight to you (or are just repeating someone else’s story?).

  13. All these commentators need to reread this post

    Great Article, very well written. It saddens me to see all these commentators try to discredit the honesty of your experience while living there. Not only that but the weakness of their arguments against your points.

    Addressing human rights issues and inequality outside of Abu Dhabi is not within the scope of this article. By bringing these up, you are only demonstrating how desperate you are to invalidate his statements about Abu Dhabi through relativism rather than focus on the true, undeniable issues that have been brought up.

    Why is everyone making huge assumptions from this piece? No where does he ever mention that Abu Dhabi is the only source of human rights abuses. Focus on the scope on the article.

    One of the main points I believe is that how can a university like NYU, an institution that embodies democratic values and makes stands against human rights abuses, compromise with NYU-AD. NYUAD is not independent and it cannot publicly voice its opinions against the country’s practices. Its funding comes from the Abu Dhabi government and NYUAD can never disrespect its sponsor. One day I would like to see NYU AD respond to this inequity and abuses to demonstrate that as an institution it will maintain NYU’s reputation. However, NYU-AD will never bite the hand that feeds it.

    I was in the author’s position the year before and I agree with your findings.

    • Another NYUAD-er

      It is you who is simplifying the commenters — the issue isn’t one of scope, it’s that the writer *decided to leave* because it’s too uncomfortable here, too uncomfortable to witness first-hand the suffering caused by the capitalist machine: the implication being that it is *less uncomfortable* in New York City, the capital of capitalism, if you will. Do you see why this is a flaw, a gaping hole, in his expression of discomfort? Yes, suffering is really effing hard to see. It’s much easier to hide from it. In Abu Dhabi, it is impossible to hide from it, even at the resorts, if you look in the eyes of the service staff. In New York we grew up learning how not to look, we are blindered to the suffering around us because we are so familiar with it (homelessness, illegal immigrants working two full time under-minimum-wage jobs, etc.).

      I don’t doubt that the writer of this post is honest or sincere, and that is not the main issue the more thoughtful commenters are raising.

    • LOSNIJ

      I understand why you would think in this way as an outsider.

      Unfortunately, you are unaware of the efforts that NYUAD students are putting into promoting rights for laborers. We have student-organizations that volunteer at labor camps, and many of us wrote/will write our senior theses on this issue. We are responding to this inequity. We don’t have to bite the hand that is feeding us. The hand also would like to improve its situation. NYUAD is responding quite firmly, in fact, in the most diplomatic way possible, because such diplomacy is required in an international environment.

      Democracy and liberty aren’t about stuffing opinions into others’ faces. Democracy and liberty are about acknowledging differences, and that is exactly what NYUAD is teaching its students. The discussion that this post has caused is what was intended on the university’s part – through these discussions we students can learn to widen our perspectives. The factors underlying the issue of labor rights in Abu Dhabi are diverse and complex. The students of NYUAD are learning to take into account these factors, and presenting better, more permanent solutions to the problem.

  14. Zayed2

    Charlie, The facts in this report are incorrect. I recommend you or anyone reading this speak with one of NYUAD’s Compliance Officers addressing workers rights for NYUAD, or Maggie Bavuso. Although that would require a lot of work for someone who collected and drank away money as a GAF while others were “treated as slaves.” If you are serious, you should give your salary back, or to a fund in Abu Dhabi supporting the exploited workers through St. Andrews Church.
    So, this is what you made of a $62,000 a year education? An alternate frisbee website, and waiting until The Guardian gave an incorrect report before writing a response sounding like you are a martyr. What a waste!

    • NYUAD Staff

      It shocks me how many NYU AD students commenting on this post have made the statement about giving up one’s salary. The concept of money can never be taught in an institution that is free of student loans and has a seemingly endless supply money from the government. The best and most powerful action that he could have taken is to bring awareness to these issues through this article.

  15. Pomo

    Please, Charlie, read the Human rights report. The whole thing, not the summary. NYU (when it is specified, as the report itself is incredibly inconcrete) is far, far better at making sure that the workers’ rights are respected than any other institution in the country.
    Then, culture. I understand your conception of culture – I come from Europe, and I have always been taught that culture is music, written word, plastic arts, etc. Saying “there is a lack of culture in the UAE” is a terribly misguided assertion. There is culture everywhere, in every social circle. They should have taught you that in your undergrad. The other question is whether you value that culture or not. That is, the underlying statement to your statement is: “the culture of the UAE is a piece of shit”. OK. Maybe. But be conscious that that is what you are truly saying. Maybe that makes you understand a bit that why we are trying to move past modernism.
    Then, inequality. Buf. New York is terribly unfair. Even NYU New York is incredibly unfair. You say: outside, you never see emiratis; outside the dorms of NYUAD there were poor Nepali and Indian and Pakistani etc. Who lives in the Bronx? Who does in Queens, Harlem, Connie Island? Who serves you food in NYU New York dining halls but Latino and Black men and women?

    As it has been said before the problems of global capitalism are everywhere. In fact, living and being from the US often can blind your perspective. The United States is at the top of a food chain that furthers economic oppression in many other places in the world. The problem of this ‘global thing’ we still don’t understand is that while you are wearing your beautiful cotton shirt in the streets of Manhattan, you aren’t conscious of the conditions in which that shirt has been produced. Many US corporations further inequality, and yet as a US citizen you can’t see it, because the inequality is pushed somewhere else. I understand being from there, and having had the fact of global inequality hidden from your sight (you only heard about it, saw it in documentaries – mythology) for such a long time, going to the UAE must be an tough, uncomfortable experience. Now, you can dismiss that experience as: the UAE is ‘fucked-up’ (which seemed to be the conclusion of your article), or you can try to understand it and use that direct contact with it to further your consciousness of inequality in the place you live, now and in the future.

  16. cdave

    Charlie, I am glad that you took the time and effort to write about your experiences in Abu Dhabi and about NYUAD. I would like to note some points on your observations. In general there is a debate, in economics research especially, about whether higher income leads eventually to socio-economic and socio-political development or whether it is “institutions” that cause “development” (however defined) to happen. NYUAD is an exercise in the latter using inordinately high incomes/heavy subsidies etc as an attractor of staff, student and faculty talent. NYUAD is also very young, as is the country itself; which is why it uses money to attract folk in the higher skill strata. Given the proximity of an abundant labor supply in South Asia, labor companies are effectively monopsonists. This behavior has a rationale, but the main question which I had hoped you would address, is how to (a) change the rationale to increase the unit labor costs for lower skilled workers while reducing it for higher skilled ones and (b) how to instantiate change in general? To be sure both NYUAD and the UAE suffer from various troubles and socio-economic and socio-political ills (as do many countries, save probably for Canada and its Scandinavian cousins, but that is a debate for the bars 🙂 ). But it is simply too soon to pass judgment on an institution like NYUAD and it is highly inappropriate to pass judgment on an evolving country—much worse took place in India (a country I imagine many should aspire to approximate in the region) during early periods of industrialization and continues to take place. I fear that your comments, while motivated by a sensitive soul and true heart, will come across a touch orientalist in flavor (Ed Said is the reference here). That would therefore take away from your message for no good reason. What would be good, given that NYUAD is an exercise in institution building and an application of the theory that good institutions lead to “development”, is a sequence of suggested practical reforms, suggested perhaps by you! When NYUAD is so reformed it will, via osmosis, affect its environment and we may have a case study of an institution leading development. And all this coming from someone who feels spurned and more importantly someone who came to NYUAD with a strong prior belief in the theory of income leading development and not institutions — it gets better my friend, but only if you remember that you first have to be the change you want to see in the world, so I hope you post your suggestions about practical, concrete reforms NYUAD could institute that may affect its environment in a respectful yet strong manner. Charlie, be also the iron fist in the velvet glove, not the guy who simply reports what the hand is doing.

    • Former Employee

      One flaw with your idea of an institution like NYU-AD leading to development in the country – it is not an entirely independent institution. All of its funding comes from the Sheikh and thus NYUAD will never stand in public opposition against the government. As a student currently attending, it is hard to grasp that your university is not autonomic and everything they do needs to get approved by the governmental departments in Abu Dhabi. I worked there and I saw many disturbing things on the administration/operational side of the school – The school is terrified of doing anything to lose their financial support and will do anything to protect it.

      The only day that NYU-AD will lead to development is the day it bites the hand that feeds it. Since nobody will fund NYUAD nor will students willingly come there without the financial support, that day will never happen.

  17. cdave

    Well I am sure there are many flaws in my argument, especially since I have little to no information about a lot of things. But the thing that sticks is simply that one has to start somewhere and incrementally make the changes needed. I am sure NYUAD, if it finds something amiss, will put forth practical solutions (perhaps informed by its vocal students and ex-GAFs–I am not being sarcastic, conversation is a good thing) and engage in a process about how to do things better. But confrontation I doubt leads to positive things, one need not bite the hand that feeds, one can simply talk to the person doing the feeding. And I am certain talking takes place. No-one wants the institution to fail, on one side you have dreams vested in it, on the other a reputation to uphold. Incentives I suspect are in place to sort things through over time. I suspect the idea is to either “go long or go home” instead of “pump and dump” so things work themselves out, but over time, which may not be fast enough for some. I forgot to mention my pet theory, not income leading development nor institutions doing it, but people (a very old Galbraithian idea if memory serves) — perhaps an appeal to the “great man” theory of history or something. That is to say, the literal people involved matter. So incentives on both sides being aligned along with people willing to do the hard slog of building relations etc I suspect leads to good things over time. Again, surely a theory and surely full of holes, but some exercises are simply worth doing, so let’s see what happens–if it works over a long horizon great! if not, then at least the next generation of folk who try will have learnt something. Either way, higher education wins in terms of finding out how to globalize it, and higher education and development are intimately linked. Look at India’s attempts at the same sort of endeavors, the attempts have been difficult at best, in large part due to insufficient funds I think. But does one think building a campus in India would not have its share of labor issues? I doubt that very much, albeit without evidence. So, let’s see what comes of this and I personally do have some faith, however misplaced (but I doubt it), that the actual people involved will execute the 3 point conversions as they come. Either way, those of us on the sidelines I think have a responsibility to point out issues provided we also point out our solutions (that is the iron hand in the velvet glove of which I spoke) and to cheer on all good faith efforts even if we are not directly involved. Let us not forget that the US public higher education system drove growth for some time, and putting down those land grant institutions post 1864 and building state university systems came with many issues, some similar perhaps, that passionate folk are seeming to care about in Qatar and the UAE today. That is all good, conversation is good, let’s see what happens, the exercise is worth doing.

  18. Brooke R.

    You wrote:
    “Perhaps over time the “values” of Western education can start to permeate in the UAE.”

    I’m not sure why you want them to become westernized. Despite what many westerners may think, the Middle East is not full of backwards tribes who do not know anything. The first universities were created in the Middle East, and the oldest cities in the world are there. The Middle East is full of diverse and beautiful cultures- that are not like us. Would I want to go to Abu Dhabi? Probably not- because everything I have heard about the place it sounds like that rich Arab culture that I can access in Jordan, Palestine and Egypt isn’t as accessible. Does that mean that the Arabs of the area need the west to come in and save them? Oh goodness no! Do I agree with the policies of the government and the exploitation of migrant workers? No! But exploitation of migrant workers takes place all over the world! Do I appreciate that my Jordanian dear ones can go to a place like Abu Dhabi and make a better wage than in Jordan? Yes. I am grateful that they can go there, Dubai, the UAE, and the KSA and make better lives for themselves. But, my original point – as a westerner who obviously cares deeply about issues like the status of migrant workers I think you should pay attention to this notion of ‘west is best,’ when it isn’t. Also- next time you travel in the Middle East skip the rock climbing in Oman and partying in Beirut and instead get to know the locals (I am making the assumption that you were with westerners doing both these activities, please correct me if I am wrong). Visit universities and find out what they are doing, go to local KG-12 schools and talk to the teachers. Go talk to people about their lives and do it with your ‘west is best’ glasses off. When you do that, when you show an appreciation for the Arab world, then maybe your advocacy for the migrant workers will be more valued by someone like me. I have a deep emotional investment in that part of the world. Yeah, I like snorkeling in the Red Sea, but I am much happier doing it with my dear Palestinian-Jordanian friends with me. I’d also be happier not snorkeling and instead sitting around a dinner table eating maqlouba and talking about life events with them.

  19. Yasmina Khanjar

    Yes there are many things went wrong in this country…. but you can’t develop a country in such a short time on western salaries and workers. Yes the human rights needs involvement in UAE but so does in those countries where the workers are coming from, too…. so does even in Europe, where women are forbidden to cover up even if they would want to on their own… so what kind of human rights are we talking about? Utopia doesn’t exist…. but the writer of this article was, as most western ppl here are, the main exploiters. I saw here British nationals having management positions with incredible salaries, who were living on social care in their own country, have no proper qualifications, nore any valuable experience. They r getting the position for being english native speaker. They are living in a country without respecting the values of this country. Just as the author himself too…. Watching porn in his room on his laptop, which is clearly not allowed by law… Kissing and not to say, doing what else behind closed doors, mostly with those Philippinas he mentioned in his article, or elsewhat with Russian, Moroccan or Brazilian girls, who are all coming here in the hope of getting rich. Yes they are having an incredibly low salary of… often less than 1500 – 2000 dhs per month. But they are clever enough to earn their money otherways beside. And oh yesssss even if the author of the article don’t like to hear it: they are coming out of their free will…. Coz in their country they wouldn’t even get a job…. Here they are getting often healthcare, what no company would pay for them there, a salary, they are not paying any taxes, which means they are not participating in the developing of the infrastructure they are using….. They are not spending a biiiig part of their salaries here, coz yessssss, they are still able to send money back home…. without starving here, thats what they are coming for, and that isn’t really good for the economics of this country either. Oh and what else he wont like to hear: maaaaaany of the construction and real estate companies and businesses who are exploiting the pakistani and bangladeshi workers: are owned by pakistanis or indians or europeans, the locals are often shareholders or so called local sponsor by name, the business registered under their name but runned by pakistani egyptian indian etc managers and owners, who are trying to become rich in the shortest possible time. I know maaaany cases where the owners or one of the owners, taking out the money of the company, leaving back the other owners and often even the local sponsor with checks which are not covered…. and disappearing to India Pakistani wherever… UAE’s prisons are filled with the deceived shareholders…. Other fact: Often those underpayed workers you are feeling so sorry for, are not qualified…. carrying out jobs they never learned and learning by doing here on the constructions…. The country is hungry for new workers, the managers often taking the one who is accepting the deepest salaries, but that’s everyelse on this world the case too… not really caring about the quality of their works. In most European or western countries maaaany of these poor workers as you are calling them, wouldn’t even get a job. Coz they are doing crap work, often leaving poor finishing and contructions mistakes back for the owners. Who are sitting in a mess after finishing a contruction with less value as they were expecting. Simply coz the workers r not qualified enough….. In the customer care those “poor philippinas” as you are calling them, are incompetent and often rude as hell, with a very poor english and no arabic. If you go into a spa and dare to tell them to correct the mistake they did, instead of trying to making up for it, they start to discuss in front of you in their native language, you as customer standing there like stupid, being backbited about in an other language and you have no idea about it….. nore can you really do anything…. max, next time you will go into an other spa. where the same kind of ppl will serve you. Would you like or accept in your country, going into a restaurant, or a spa or a shop….. the ppl who are payed for carry out a certain service, are not able to understand you if you speak your native language in your own country. Again: in most european countries they wouldn’t get a job. Coz it is a minimum expectation in every western country, that immigrants are learning the language of your country. Instead, we are forced to learn english ( i’m okkkk with but on the other side: is the service not of lesser value than? if you are living in a country for years, shouldn’t you try to learn at least the native language of the country? )Tell me what kind of job would they get in any western country, if even…… Every coin has two sides. Making the country bad while being part of the mistakes of the system…. that’s hypocracy par excellence…. .

    • Ap

      I am a Filipina and with all due respect, let me give you a piece of my mind.
      I find your unnecessarily long comment hateful to the people from my country since you singled us out.
      First of all, it’s Filipina, not Philippina. Before you make comments like we are not being provided health care benefits and we provide poor customer service, you might want to do a simple internet search first. Big western companies like HSBC, Capital One, Best Buy, Chase, etc. are outsourcing their call centers in the Philippines not only because we can save them a lot of money but also because we know how to provide excellent customer service. Let me also mention the fact that we speak good English. I worked in a call center for more than five years and enjoyed great benefits! My family and I had health care and life insurance. The building where I worked was fully air-conditioned. There were rooms where employees can sleep during breaks with beds, pillows and blankets. There’s a shower room, a pantry with free coffee and drinks in every floor. There were also 3 Xbox units with Kinect in our game room which also had billiard, pingpong and foosball tables. My point is just because Filipinos or other nationalities are going abroad does not already mean that we are all deprived and starving in our own countries. People have different reasons for going abroad. I went here because my husband works here and other people may have gone overseas for a totally similar or different reason so do not make a general conclusion as to why we leave our respective countries. I am sorry if you or someone you know had a bad experience with a Filipino before but that does not mean that we are all like that. Lastly, check your grammar and spelling before calling others that they do not know English. Let me get you started. The past tense of run is “ran” not runned. =)

  20. respect

    Your statements about wealth, labor, and the UAE are weak and derivative. I’ll let the more intelligent comments above speak to that. I want to add that the Rhodes Scholar you linked to received the scholarship for his work with migrant laborers in the UAE and is entering Oxford’s program in migration studies. Something at NYUAD is working and worthy of your respect.

    Your more valuable contributions are about the university itself. Nobody has openly written about these luxury spring break trips for students (???), problems with faculty retainment, or, most crucially, your comments at the end about your very ability to write this: “All I can tell you is that I wouldn’t have written this if I was still living in Abu Dhabi.”

    You deserve credit for being the only person speaking out about NYUAD who knows the university well. All we have are shitty New York Magazine reporters writing superficial articles about NYUAD from afar. It is a breath of fresh air to hear a critique from someone who has spent time on campus. At other colleges, the conversation you started in these comments happens on student and faculty blogs and the campus newspaper. But there is a conspiracy of silence around speaking against a university largely seen as a benevolent sugar daddy. Before now there was a total vacuum of public criticism of NYUAD from people inside, and you changed that.

    I disagree with much of what you wrote. Thank you for writing this.

  21. Annonymous

    haha it’s funny how my fellow NYUAD students are advocating that NYU is setting the trend to address migrant labor issues by providing them better work environments and salaries and stuff when as a student here myself I explicitly remember the head of food services at NYUAD firing two of the Sama tower dining hall employees (Kaif and one other Indian – if memory serves me right) for stealing a couple of bananas and a bottle of juice. Both were deported on the first available flight back to India. And yet the same NYUAD is so lenient on drinking and sexual activities between its students (including homosexualtiy which is discretely forbidden as per UAE laws) that I won’t even like to begin. Guess someone was saying something about hypocrisy ahh…

    • JZ

      If the UAE knew about significant presence of homosexuality, underage drinking, drugs and sex happening in their building, the school’s funding would be threatened greatly. Not to mention students that become pregnant NYU AD would not allow them to return for their own safety.

      • Annonymous

        haha JZ…you are OBVIOUSLY naive to NYUAD and definitely not a student here…or else you would be knowing how much drinking and sex goes on in here inside the fine confines of Sama tower. We have a thing here we so proudly boast: “what happens in Sama, remains in Sama”…there’s a reason for it, love.

      • JZ

        Wow – Maybe NYUAD the World’s Self-proclaimed Honors College should be renamed to Sheikh Zayed’s School for Kids who can’t read good.

        Read my comment again. NYUAD knows everything, UAE does NOT. NYUAD supports their students and do their absolute best to keep it within their bubble inside the UAE. If leaked outside, NYUAD is screwed. UAE imported a brand, not a pseudo autonomous institution that can do whatever it wants.

  22. Are you kidding me?

    If the writer of this found it so unconscionable that he had to leave, he definitely wouldn’t have spent one of his last nights in Abu Dhabi throwing an elaborate party at a villa ON SAADIYAT ISLAND BUILT BY THE SAME MIGRANT WORKERS he pretends to care so much about. This whole thing smacks of disingenuousness and opportunism for a “journalist” desperate to be taken seriously outside of his ultimate frisbee website.

    • Read the article, noob

      “…I worked and lived there, and as much as I can try to tell myself otherwise, I participated in the debauchery of the wealthy elite. Fine dining, partying, globehopping. It was fun, I was comfortable, but I knew I had to get the hell out.”

      He admitted it. What’s your point? The scope of this article was about NYU & NYUAD willingness to proceed with these issues. NYU compromising its basic values and Abu Dhabi seemingly only wanting to import another western brand.

      Regardless if you agree with the entirety of the article, it is UNDENIABLE that NYUAD has issues that it needs to address: Human rights abuses, Faculty Retention, Sense of entitlement, among others.

  23. Faisal

    Arabs have always been racist. Whats the big deal here ? Money has made them even more callous.

    • Yasmeen E. Stewart

      I love the Pan-Arabia Enquirer! You guys are just the best! I tweet your stuff all the time and the funniest part is everyone thinks that is real news…lol

  24. Pingback: round thoughts » “The Professionals”

  25. From your description of the disconnect between wealthy (as well as those catering to them) and the great mass of laborers, Abu Dhabi sounds a lot like what is happening in the US today. Is Abu Dhabi today what we will be tomorrow?

  26. Yasmeen E. Stewart

    Please reference my previous comment-

    You did not address any of the atrocities that I referenced by the United States against the Middle East region or it’s own people. A people now ranking 2 in the developed nations child poverty scales, a nation with the worlds highest incarceration rates* and all with the luxury of the worlds highest GDP.*

    I think it is easy to bash the Arab world but remember the universe has a way of paying back brutality and it does not need weapons to do it. I have personally seen the cruelty inflicted upon the Arab world over the last 3 decades and even the worst despotic Arab ruler cannot compare to the evils inflicted on this region by foreign powers over the last 60 years in total. All done supposedly to either free the Arabs from oppression or to rid the world of terrorists. What hyperbole, it was always and only ever was to fill the proverbial pockets of the greedy with other nations resources and splash their blood on international stations for higher ratings.

    Lets lower your morality approach because it lacks sincerity in light of your obvious desire for further calamity to befall the inhabitants of the Arabian gulf region. You lambast one of the greatest Arab nations UAE. Who are reaching out to the globe in an attempt to bridge divides at one of the worst times in recent Middle East history. I am personally insulted by your vindictive attack on the UAE. It sickens me that you mention them in the context of other regional governments issues. Knowing full well that the UAE participation is only attempting to maintain regional stability, against the onslaught of those foreign and regional powers that seek it’s destabilization for military sales and corporate greed.

    I also notice that no name is attached to a journalistic article. What cowardice to not reveal yourself to the world. As certainly attacking Arab nations is a popular past time in the United States or is that by revealing yourself we would learn your not American at all?

    I applaud your desire to root out human rights abuses and so you should have plenty of work right there in America to keep you busy. Mean while you can remember my words that despite the best efforts of foreign enemies and even with the looming regional war brought on by those powers. The UAE will ride the wave of turmoil and continue to be a beacon of hope and peace to the Middle East region for hundreds of years to come.

    In closing you can sit comfortably from your arm chair and watch the spectacle of the Middle East regional crises on cable TV as your entrainment. Who knows, maybe you can even be called on CNN as a Middle East-Gulf region expert. At least you stepped a toe in the region and know absolutely nothing, that should qualify you!

    P.S.
    I pasted here the article of which I made reference in my previous comment. I assumed the article to be factual in light of UAE being ranked with one of the highest immigration rates on earth.*

    Articles I referenced:
    UAE: The world’s happiest Arab country says UN report
    June 26, 2013
    http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/uae-the-worlds-happiest-arab-country-says-un-report

    Worlds current immigration ratings:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_net_migration_rate

    Worlds Largest GDP:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)

    Highest poverty among children in developed nations: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/30/us-child-poverty-report-unicef_n_1555533.html

    AMERICA HIGHEST INCARCERATION RATES GLOBALLY!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_incarceration_rate

  27. CJ Dash

    You want to clean up a lopsided social system? Start at home Dude!
    The US social system is so well engineered to marginalize the blacks & keep them poor,uneducated & finally in prisons for generations. And where have all the American Indians gone?

  28. Osama

    I am a Pakistani, living in Sri Lanka. Firstly, I would like to say that workers working on construction projects even in the western countries do not get a pay as high as that of executives which those projects later employ.

    About your saying, “Do they even see these non-citizen Southeast Asian workers as equals?”. I would say that my grand-father migrated to UAE in 1960s. He brought up his children over there and now his grand children attend top-class international schools in the state with a bright, promising future in Abu Dhabi. My uncle worked for a decade in the police department in the UAE and now, after taking retirement, runs a successful steel business. As for me, UAE is a land of opportunity to kick-start my career in financial engineering.

    The author of the article above may be seeing the wrong side of the picture or is at least not viewing the full of it. I am sorry to say but I have been really offended by the expression of such biased, unfounded remarks against Abu Dhabi and NYU-AD, in particular.

  29. anonymous

    I don’t know much abtot the topic so I will neither argue nor agree, but I don’t get your point about students getting things for free. Students are not getting things for free, they are been granted for the education they are eager to earn. Do I understand from what you said that students should spend the rest of their lives paying off loans just to be able tk afford four years of education, or are you trying to suggest that if you cannot pay for your own education then you don’t deserve one.
    Let me know if I’m mistaken, but that’s what I understood from some of what you mentioned.

  30. Silvia

    Hey there, I would like you to remove the aerial image of the NYU Abu Dhabi, which you have used (without permission) in this post. It is a copyrighted image and if you would like to use it, you need to purchase a license to this specific use and image!

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