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QS Best Student Cities ranking: 61st

The largest and most populous metropolitan area in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), located on the eastern coast of the Arabian peninsula, the combined metro area of Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman are known for its skyscraper-laden skylines (with the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, standing in Dubai at a whopping 828m). However, this city also possesses a rich cultural heritage and diversity, two things which help it to score impressively for student mix in this year’s ranking, placing 33rd in the world.

There are more expats than Emirati nationals living in the UAE, and the area is no exception, with a hugely multicultural society made up of expats from a total of 200 nationalities around the world. A whopping 90 percent of the population is from outside the UAE, and although Arabic is the country’s official language, most people in Dubai speak English.

Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman are also well-known for its glorious weather and sandy beaches, luxury hotels and shopping malls, and is consistently rated highly for its quality of life (though unfortunately this does come with high costs of living).

This is a modern, safe metropolitan area with welcoming people who place importance on courtesy and hospitality. But if you study in Dubai, Sharjah or Ajman it’s important to remember that the UAE is a Muslim country and you should show respect for its culture and religion at all times, with different laws and customs to what you might be used to in your home country. For example, alcohol is almost entirely forbidden in Sharjah. 

As well as the metro area's own universities, you can also study at a branch campus of international universities like the UK’s University of Birmingham, the US’ Rochester Institute of Technology and Canada’s University of Waterloo, which are based just outside the city at the Dubai International Academic City.

Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman have also proved a hit with its students, putting it in the top 50 for student view in this year’s ranking, with students praising it in our student survey with comments such as “There’s a sense of belonging, this place is ready to welcome anyone” and “You get the best opportunity for higher education and to learn about multiple cultures”.  

Internationally ranked universities in Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman

More about Dubai

Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution


5.6 million

Average international fees (at ranked unis)

Desirability rank


Employer Activity rank


Affordability rank


Student Experience rank



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

*For this year’s city ranking, Dubai and Sharjah have been considered together, as they form a metropolitan area together with Ajman.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The Assistant Editor of, Sabrina edits and publishes articles which 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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