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Abu Dhabi

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QS Best Student Cities ranking: 88th

Abu Dhabi is the capital and second-largest city of the United Arab Emirates and a new entry in the Best Student Cities index this year at 88th, gaining its best score in the affordability category (59th). Located off on an island off the Persian Gulf, the city boasts more than 400 kilometers of stunning coastline, including 10 kilometers of pristine public beaches. There’s also an abundance of breath-taking architecture in the city to explore in your spare time, with the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the largest in the country, a particular must-see.

As well as its affordability, one of the most appealing aspects of life in Abu Dhabi is its multiculturalism – Emirati citizens represent 20 percent of the city’s population, with people from other, diverse nationalities making up the remaining 80 percent. And of its student population, almost half (46 percent) come from outside the UAE.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai have both been rated among the best places to live in the Middle East, thanks to the overall tolerant and progressive lifestyle of the UAE, excellent job opportunities thanks to the fast-growing economy, and high quality of living. And in terms of universities, there are around 16 to choose from, including branch campuses of excellent overseas institutions such as INSEAD, New York University and Sorbonne University.

If you want to study in Abu Dhabi, it’s important to remember that the UAE is a Muslim country and you should be respectful of local laws and customs at all times. Abu Dhabi is generally slightly more conservative than Dubai, so it’s advisable to cover up with long, loose clothing – this will also help with the heat! You should be especially respectful during Ramadan and when visiting religious sites.

Would you choose Abu Dhabi? Share your thoughts.

Internationally ranked universities in Abu Dhabi

More about Abu Dhabi

Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution

Khalifa University (joint 268th in the world)

Population (inc. urban area)


Average international fees (at ranked unis)


Desirability rank


Employer Activity rank


Affordability rank


Student View rank


To find out how each of the above categories is calculated, view the methodology.

Related categories:

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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