Never A Dull Moment: Study & Play In The UAE

by Joel Tan

Studying abroad can be a powerful and rewarding experience for any student daring enough to expose themselves to a different culture. This experience, however, is never complete without the occasional travel to the countryside or the exploration of known wonders, natural or manmade, that form part and parcel of a rich study abroad trip.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE - Photo by Nicole Mecionis

If you are one of the lucky few who are preparing to study abroad in the United Arab Emirates, you’ll find that this Middle Eastern country is not only replete with academic endeavors but also extra-curricular pursuits. Here are a few of the activities that make studying abroad in the UAE a great decision:

Climb The Burj Khalifa.

This skyscraper towers above in the heart of Dubai, and at 2,722 feet, is currently the tallest in the world. You may have seen this astounding building in TV shows (The Amazing Race), films (Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol) or even video games (“Spec Ops: The Line”). During your study abroad trip to the United Arab Emirates, you’ll have the remarkable chance to scale it yourself. Ride the elevator to the 124th floor and step out onto one of the world’s highest outdoor observation decks to take in the sights of Dubai spreading out far and wide.

Bask In The Magnificence Of Burj Al Arab.

Not many students can afford a stay in the world’s only seven-star hotel, but they can definitely spend a day at Jumeirah Beach and stare across the water at this amazing luxury hotel, standing on an artificial island and designed to resemble the sail of a ship.

Indulge Your Photography Bug.

You’ll never want to put your camera down. From the awesome skylines of Dubai and Abu Dhabi to the wonderful beaches that seem to stretch on forever, the scenes of UAE are guaranteed to spice up your photo portfolio. The desert with its myriad plant and animal life is also a popular subject of photographers. Shutterbugs studying abroad in the UAE should book a desert safari. Dusk is a great time to capture fabulous images as the last rays of the sun glint off surfaces and objects cast long, dramatic shadows.

Sunset in Dubai from the penthouse balcony of the fairway apartments in The Greens, UAE

Sunset in Dubai from the penthouse balcony of the fairway apartments in The Greens, UAE.

Photo by Nicole Mecionis

Skydive Indoors!

Thanks to modern technology, you can skydive indoors through iFly Dubai. Though there’s also an iFly in San Francisco and another in Seattle, the version in Dubai has two wind tunnels. This gives the facility the distinction of having the world's first double skydiving simulator. There is a discount for groups, so gather some friends in your UAE study program and grab this opportunity to fly high.

Ski In The Desert.

You may have skied to your heart's content back home, but have you ever skied in a desert city on a 22,500-square-meter slope with real snow all year round? Dubai hosts the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East.

Ride The Dunes.

If you rather get your adventure in the outdoors, try riding the desert dunes in Liwa Oasis, about 150 kilometers southwest of Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate and capital of the UAE. It's amazing how an entire industry has sprung up around riding 4x4 trucks into the desert dunes. If your stomach can handle the twists, turns and tumbles, and your budget can take the price, then go ahead and experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. As in other adventures, going in groups is highly encouraged.

Drive A Formula 1 Racing Car At The Yas Marina Circuit.

Hop behind the wheel of a racing car and feel the power of a 3000cc V8 engine as you zoom around a world-class track. This adventure is great for the adrenaline, but can get pricey — save it for when the parents visit!