Student Exchange and Study Abroad Programs

There are many attractions to entice students to study in the Middle East, including rich history and culture, warm climates, and top-notch educational facilities in a selection of Middle Eastern countries with ambitions of becoming international education hubs.

Studying in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or in general in the United Arab Emirates, for example, can certainly have its benefits: sun, sea, sand, potential tax-free earnings after graduation, and, according to the QS World University Rankings, some of the best universities in the Gulf region.

There are hundreds of scholarships available for international students looking to study abroad. Some are offered by government agencies, some by individual universities, and others by external funding organizations and charitable enterprises.

Searching for the right scholarship for you can be a major task; here is a lists of scholarships for different groups of students.

At the same time Arab students can come to the US.

A report by the US Institute of International Education found that many Emirati students from across the UAE are interested in studying at American colleges and universities. Many go to experience a different kind of university life, while others go to improve their English and understand the American academic system.  Several American institutions welcome International Students from all over the world as an exchange student in the United States.

For example, The Student Leaders program is an intensive 6-week exchange program to the United States for approximately 120 undergraduate students from the Middle East and North Africa. Places targeted: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, West Bank/Gaza, and Yemen. And that’s just one of the programs.

Emirati students that desire to study in America can visit the Institute for International Education (IIE) and the Fulbright Centers that also offers counseling services for foreign students.

International students should be aware there are three types of student visas: F-1 (for full-time students), J-1 (for internship or exchange visitor programs), M-1 (for students attending non-academic trade and vocational schools). Interested Emirati National Students can apply at the visa post (embassy or consulate) nearest to their home. There they can obtain help with Visa-related Questions, the application, pay the fees, and so on. Note: Exchange Students are asked to verify with their sponsoring academic institutions that they are entered into SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitors Information System, before they apply for a visa.

Embarking on an educational or cultural exchange program to study abroad provides an opportunity that broadens the minds of learners, says the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Their website ( also lists the Exchange Programs available for U.S. Citizens wishing to study abroad.

Americans can study abroad in UAE at the American University of Sharjah, at the American University in Dubai or else at the Abu Dhabi University, for example, which have an exchange/study abroad program. Participants can fund their participation via scholarships, loans, or self-funding.

Other programs aimed at UAE national students, include…

ADEC Summer Abroad Programme: This provides an opportunity for Emirati students “to become self-dependent, help enhance their English language, leadership skills, and encourage them to closely interact with other cultures and become exposed to various educational opportunities,” Ahmad Al Shamsi, Adec’s General Services Division Manager and Project Manager, says. Thanks to ADEC’s support, the summer trips abroad program has students being sent to destinations like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, USA, UK or Ireland where they will live with a host family or reside on campus to attend classes and improve academic performance in either English or other school subjects.

The 4 weeks’ program offers students a beyond-the-classroom experience that is entirely paid for selected students (who are top-performing high school scholars) from Grade 10 and 11. Students in the program are given some money and are issued phone cards to keep in touch with their families, explains Youssif Al Marzooqi, the project manager at Adec.

According to a post featured in The National about students who have taken part in the program, “To qualify, the Grade 10 and 11 students had to achieve an academic average of 85 per cent of higher, demonstrate good behavior and participate in extra-curricular activities.”

In its eighth year of operation, the program is still a popular option for deserving students; the Summer Abroad Programme is supported by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. To learn more, visit the website at

Sayfuna Mumayaz programme: This 4 week’s ‘FREE’ program, available annually, is open to national students from grades 2–8, and from grades 9–11, who attend government or private schools (and is available to expat students), to continue to learn during the summer months. It offers educational/cultural excursions that are provided throughout the Emirate, which split into three regions: Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Gharbia. Students in grades 2-8 undergo educational activities that will boost their knowledge, skills and attitudes; whereas, grades 9-11 are given the choice to improve in one of two key academic areas: English or IT.

Overall, student exchange programs and summer abroad programs, both foreign and domestic, provide the pupil a life changing experience and an opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge that they simply could not get anywhere else. These programs are an excellent occasion for students to travel and discover themselves in a place that is unfamiliar to them while being able to study and learn things that matter most to them too.

Student Exchange and Study Abroad


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