Although the Middle East has been a region in turmoil for much of the past few decades, this should not stop you from looking beyond the unrest projected by media, into the deeply-rooted and enriching culture which lays beneath. Earning your degree abroad in the Middle East is the opportunity to immerse yourself fully in an area which has long been the cradle of civilization; what you will discover is a land of unparalleled depth, complexity, tradition, and beauty at the center of the modern world.
What is commonly referred to as the Middle East encompasses the region of western Asia stretching from Iran in the east to Turkey in the west, and is often extended to include northern African countries such as Egypt and Libya as well. While the region has not been historically known for the prestige of its higher academic institutions, there are a growing number of reputable universities where international students are beginning to flock for their studies.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one such country with burgeoning economic and academic prospects where many students choose to earn a degree abroad in the Middle East. Schools here such as United Arab Emirates University and the American University of Sharjah are some of the most highly ranked in the region, and are only growing in reputation. Further to the west, Israel also offers increasingly plentiful opportunities for international students to gain from a high quality degree program.
Other countries where you might consider earning a degree abroad in the Middle East include Iran, Lebanon, and Cyprus. The region is extremely diverse religiously, politically, and culturally, so be sure to research all these factors carefully while looking for the best potential destination where to pursue your degree abroad!
Academics & Degrees
If you pursue your degree abroad in the Middle East at a major university, then you should have the opportunity as an international student to pursue any subject within that school’s course catalogue. While this throws the door wide open to study what you will, some of the most popularly pursued disciplines among foreign students in the region tend to include Arabic, International Business, Religious Studies, International Relations, and Middle Eastern Studies.
While some Western-oriented schools in the region will utilize English as the medium of education, more often than not you will be expected to speak the local language in order to be considered for enrollment. The most commonly spoken languages across the Middle East include Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, and Farsi; often universities will utilize a language entry exam to determine your eligibility.
While countries will offer differently structured degree programs across the Middle East, you can generally choose to pursue your undergraduate, Master’s or PhD in the region. Additionally, although many schools have been traditionally segregated between men and women throughout the Middle East, more and more universities are beginning to open courses to both sexes.
Scholarships & Costs
While tuition for international students can prove to be expensive according to your specific destination in the Middle East, there are a wide variety of scholarship and exchange opportunities which can help lessen these fees. Other living costs will vary significantly across the region as well, depending on the levels of infrastructural and economic development of your host country. In general, you can still expect on-the-ground expenses to be less than in the fully industrialized world.
Accommodation & Visas
As elsewhere in the world, the most common forms of accommodation for international students earning their degrees abroad in the Middle East tend to be dormitories, individual apartments, or homestays. It is often the case for multi-year degree programs that students will choose to experiment with a combination of the above, such as beginning in student dormitories and then eventually moving to an off-campus apartment with roommates.
Countries across the region vary in the strictness of their visa policies for international students, and so how easy it will be for you to earn your degree abroad in the Middle East may depend on your home nationality. For more information about the visa policies of Middle Eastern countries, check out our Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Ancient History. Home to a potent amount of the world’s most storied and powerful civilizations, as well as the roots of its most popular religions, it is hard to imagine a more enriching context to take your education abroad than the Middle East. In many ways, it is the basis of all modern culture.
Central Influence. Sitting in the geographic center of the landmass which is Africa, Europe, and Asia, the Middle East has long been the nexus of these three very distinct regions. It has enjoyed tremendous influence because of, and been greatly influenced by, its auspicious position at this crossroads.
Culture Shock. The Middle East has managed to withstand many of the most powerful influences of globalization to hold onto a strong core of its own cultural traditions. As a foreign student, while it may be challenging to adapt, you will discover a land of immense integrity and interest.
Earning your degree abroad in the Middle East will be a rewarding and educational adventure into what is arguably the most dynamic region of our modern world. The so-called cradle of civilization is once again at the center of the international spotlight; will you join in the journey?