“What to Know Before Coming to AUD” by Colbee Cunningham

Planning to spend a semester abroad at the American University in Dubai (AUD)?

Dec 10, 2022

Planning to spend a semester abroad at the American University in Dubai (AUD)? You are in for a treat! Located in the heart of Dubai’s Media City, AUD is the ideal study abroad destination for students looking for an international experience that is both academically stimulating and culturally enriching.

My semester at AUD has impacted me in indescribable ways and I am positive that your time at AUD will be equally as transformative. To help you prepare for your semester at AUD and make the most of your time in Dubai, I have created an “AUD Survival Guide” for incoming international students. Having been in your shoes before, I created this guide to facilitate your transition to life in Dubai and to make you aware of a few things I think are essential before coming.


    • My #1 packing tip is to bring more warm clothes than you think you will need. Despite Dubai’s desert climate, most buildings are well-equipped with air conditioning. As such, classrooms and dorm rooms can get pretty chilly (19°C / 66°F). I recommend bringing at least three sweatshirts and several pairs of long pants.
    • Other packing necessities will vary from person to person. If you are not sure whether or not to bring something, check out this list provided by AUD housing.

  2. U.A.E. E-VISA
    • The only other main pre-departure component of your time at AUD is your completion of the e-Visa. This must be completed before your entry into the U.A.E. and will be of great importance in helping you secure your Emirates I.D.
    • To complete this process, contact AUD’s visa officer. More information on the visa application process can be found here.



    • Upon arrival, your top priority should be securing your Emirates I.D. and your U.A.E. visa. In order to do this, you will need to go to the Al Quoz Mall to complete the necessary paperwork and undergo a medical examination. You will also need to make an appointment to have your fingerprint taken. It is recommended that you complete the Emirates I.D. and visa process as soon as possible. Not only will these identification materials make you eligible for sweet discounts and perks, but failure to acquire them within your first 30 days in the U.A.E. could potentially result in a fine.

  2. PHONE:
    • In today’s day and age, it is hard to imagine traveling to a foreign country without Internet access.
    • While AUD does offer free WiFi while on-campus, it is recommended that you purchase a cell phone plan for your off-campus endeavors.
    • The three main cell phone carriers are Etisalat, Du, and Virgin Mobile U.A.E. You can purchase a SIM from these carriers at the airport or a mall.
    • IMPORTANT: Make sure your phone is “unlocked” by your carrier in the United States before you arrive in the U.A.E. This basically means that you can use your phone under any carrier and will allow you to insert an Emirati SIM card.

    • For travel within Dubai, the most common mode of transportation is via metro.
    • AUD is fortunate to have the Al Khail metro station located a mere 2 minutes from campus. Not only is the Dubai Metro the world’s longest driverless rail system, but it is also safe and the cleanest metro that I have ever seen.
    • This makes the metro the most affordable, safe, and accessible option for exploring all that Dubai has to offer. To make things even better, students are eligible for a discount on public transportation in Dubai.
    • If you prefer to take a taxi, I recommend downloading the Careem app. This allows you to hail a taxi to/from anywhere in the city. You can also use Uber, but it tends to be more expensive than Careem.
    • One more piece of advice as it relates to transportation: For your arrival and departure to Dubai, I recommend taking a taxi as opposed to the metro. This will save you the hassle of lugging around your heavy suitcases and will provide you with ease and peace of mind. When you exit the airport, there will be a long line of taxis waiting outside of the arrivals gate.

  4. APPS:
    • Dubai offers an app for almost everything, especially food and groceries.
    • In addition to Careem (as mentioned above), some apps that will facilitate your stay in Dubai include: Talabat, Noon, InstaCart, and MAF Carrefour Online Shopping.

    • The three most popular supermarkets in Dubai are Carrefour, Spinney’s and Viva Mart.
    • Given its proximity to campus, most AUD students prefer to shop at Carrefour. There is a medium-sized Carrefour located a 15-minute walk from campus in Marina Market Crown. There is also a very large Carrefour located in Mall of the Emirates, which can be accessed via metro.

    • Now that we have covered all of the logistical questions, it is time for you to explore all that Dubai has to offer! My top 5 personal recommendations for things to do in Dubai are:
      1) Go to the top of Burj Khalifa,
      2) Explore Expo (2020) City Dubai,
      3) Visit the Gold Souk,
      4) Go to the beach, and
      5) Check out Aquaventure Waterpark.
    • For more inspiration on things to do in Dubai, check out The AUD Experience for more study abroad at AUD stories.


If you have made it this far in this article, you should know (most) everything you need to know to have an incredible semester at AUD. Get ready for a semester that you will never forget!


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