5 Reasons To Study Abroad in the Middle East

March 20, 2017
Ruthie Edd, studied at American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
Ruthie Edd, studied at American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Students who want to study abroad should consider making the Middle East their destination. With thousands of years of fascinating history, stunning contemporary and ancient architecture, and a warm and welcoming local population, the opportunities for personal and academic enrichment are legion.

The Middle East is considered to be one of the fastest growing study abroad locations, with the number of students electing to continue their academic pursuits in Arabic-speaking nations more than quadrupling since 2002. Here are a few reasons why studying abroad in the Middle East might be a fantastic – and valuable – experience.

1. You’ll explore a widely misunderstood region

Many Americans are frightened by the prospect of traveling to the Middle East. News reports describe the horrors of war and political instability in terrifying detail, but the reality of life in much of the Middle East is astonishingly different and more complex than what we might imagine. Countries in the Middle East are home to a broad spectrum of diverse cultures and religions. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll recognize that the widely-held preconceptions and stereotypes have little to do with the actual experience of daily life.

2. The academic institutions are exceptional

You’ll have the benefit of studying at a highly respected, top-ranking university, as renowned for its advanced academic programs as it is for its stunning architecture. In addition to offering a dynamic and rich campus life, the American University of Sharjah provides world-class engineering, business and design programs. You’ll have the opportunity to meet a wide range of people, from local students and instructors to an increasingly large population of international students. Cultivate relationships, familiarize yourself with new concepts and make lifelong friends.

3. You can learn and perfect the different languages of the Middle East

Fluency in Middle Eastern languages is highly valuable in today’s job market. You’ll be able to study Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish, Persian, and the different regional dialects. Arabic and its dialects are especially valued in western job markets in both the public and private sectors.

Men playing instruments in Heritage, Village, Sharjah, U.A.E.
Men playing instruments in Heritage, Village, Sharjah, U.A.E.

4. Develop an immersive experience of local cultures

Relatively few American organizations possess a knowledge of the different cultures of the Middle East. As someone who’s studied and lived amongst the locals, you’ll be positioned to understand the challenges of the different business structures, political philosophical and cultural norms.

Garment shop in Rashadiya, Dubai, U.A.E.
Garment shop in Rashadiya, Dubai, U.A.E.

Furthermore, developing insight into Islamic traditions will be very advantageous. Islam is the second largest religion in the world and is the lens through which the majority of people living in the Middle East view western cultures. Becoming acquainted with this worldview is extremely important to cultivating a safer and more compassionate international environment, and a more prosperous global economy.

5. Enjoy the magical city life and ancient history

No other region in the world boasts such a wide variety of attractions, recreations and activities. The Middle East offers a remarkable array of things to do and see – from fabulous shopping in local bazaars, to spending a day at a luxury spa, to sandboarding down spectacular dunes, to visiting the breathtaking Palm Islands. With the blend of modern and historical attractions, there is no shortage of incredible adventures.

Why go to the Middle East with ISEP?

We offer study abroad programs designed to meet a broad spectrum of student needs. No matter which academic program you choose, ISEP can help connect you to some of the most respected global institutions, which can both supplement your education and enrich your worldview. With over 300 member institutions across over 50 countries, we’re committed to giving students the support they need to introduce themselves to a vibrant, dynamic and diverse global community.

To learn more about our study abroad programs, please visit our program search to find out how you can begin your journey.

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