While Dubai and Canada are miles apart, a university in Dubai is bridging this gap. Canadian University Dubai (CUD), established in 2006, and located in the heart of Dubai, offers a Canadian education and the option to transfer to complete your degree in Canada.

Two students Mahmoud Samir Albattah and Hiteshwari Patel who studied at CUD share their experience with us.

Albattah, who was born in Qatar but lived his entire life in the UAE, enrolled at CUD when his dad told him about the ‘Environment & Health Sciences’ program the university offers. “At that point in time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so when he told me about this program, I was willing to try it out.” All Albattah was sure of was that he wanted to do something different from his siblings. “My brother is a doctor, my sister a lawyer, and my other brother is an engineer.” Albattah says while the program intrigued him, he was still glad to have the option of changing his program in his second year. However, he says, “I grew to love it.”

When Albattah enrolled at CUD, he says he wasn’t aware of the fact that the university allowed students the option of transferring to Canada; when he got to know about it, he was quite inclined to do so, given that his brother lives in Canada. Albattah however, was unable to do this owing to personal constraints; “my dad had retired, and my parents were old, so I couldn’t leave them.”

"/Albattah (far right) celebrating his football win.

He nonetheless says he had a great experience at CUD where in addition to a great education, he got the chance to pursue his passion for sports. “We won eight championships while I was there.” Enrolling in the sports program not only helped him make lasting friendships, but these friends today “are like family,” he says.

And there's more - CUD gave Albattah the opportunity to ‘mature’ much before he expected. By chance Albattah came across a job in the admissions and recruitment office at CUD. “I interviewed and got the job; this was a great help for me in terms of getting a spending allowance as well as in terms of helping finance my education.”

Albattah describes the experience and atmosphere at CUD saying, “while many people imagine university life to be filled with parties, this is not the case at CUD, because after all, we are in a GCC country.” He adds, “for people looking for that lifestyle and experience, there is always the opportunity to transfer to Canada.” He nonetheless says that life at CUD has it’s own charm and fun and one thing is for sure — you can expect to make lifelong friendships and receive guidance along every step of your academic journey from the “friendly and supportive staff” at CUD.

Albattha graduated in 2016 and says his plans moving forward is to pursue a Master’s in Environmental Science either from the US or Canada, but adds that he is keeping his options opens and if he ends up staying on in the UAE, he may pursue a business degree and some day start his own business.

Another CUD student, Hiteshwari Patel’s story started out much like Albattha's. She was also raised in the UAE (in the emirate of Sharjah) and did an extensive comparison of colleges in the UAE when it was time to start looking into higher education. Patel decided on CUD as it ticked off all the boxes when it came to proximity, affordability and programs. Patel joined the BBA program at CUD, majoring in marketing. Like Albattha, she did not originally plan to transfer to Canada but says, when she heard about this option at her orientation, “it became one of my goals. “I had heard a lot about Canada and some of my closest family also lives there so the country had always interested me.”

CUD helped Patel through the entire transfer process; “they helped me find the right school, helped me with the application process and the visa.” Patel was accepted by York University and Brock University, but decided on the former as “it was closer to where my family lived.” Patel counts it as a blessing to have been given the opportunity to move to Toronto and transfer to "one of the best educational organisations."

While at CUD, Patel gained a close friends circle and strong connection with professors. Thinking back on her days at CUD, she fondly reminisces, “I had amazing professors” and some of her best study memories are of “working on group projects.” She adds, “My friends and teachers were a great support in helping me discover and shape my talents.” 

Life at York has been a little different says Patel. She is grateful for her experience as it is here that she truly learned to welcome challenges, engage with a diverse community, and discover new personal interests. In retrospect though, she says, “if other students were considering transferring from CUD to a university in Canada, it is best to do it in the first or second year of your undergraduate program or after you have completed your undergraduate studies.”

Although Albattha and Patel have had similar beginnings, their paths changed along the way. One thing they both have consensus on is that the time spent at Canadian University Dubai was a fulfilling and rewarding one.

To find out more about CUD, check out our blog: Destination Canada Via Dubai. You can also apply to CUD’s undergraduate or postgraduate programs on SchoolApply.