Diana Tingxuan Zhu Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Chinese university students in the UAE have spoken positively on their experiences in the country, noting how the UAE’s hospitality along with its world-class education institutions makes the country an ideal choice for completing their higher education.

The increasing number of young Chinese students moving to the UAE to pursue their university studies is just one example of the strengthening relations between both nations.

“It was a combination of two things that made me decide to come to the UAE — the first was to be able to study at a world-class institution like New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), and the second was that I was really curious about the UAE and I wanted to learn about the culture,” said Wendi Li, a 21-year-old Chinese student who is majoring in computer science at NYUAD.

“I originally was planning to go to the US, but since there was a US institution already available in the UAE, I decided to come to the UAE instead and I’m really happy I made that choice. I don’t think I would have been able to get the experiences or perspectives I have if I went to the US rather than the UAE,” he added.

“It’s been very different living in the UAE compared to China, but different in a good way. Everything here feels so diverse and the quality of life is very good,” he said.


Li noted the similarities between certain aspects of Chinese culture with that of Emirati and Arab culture based on his experiences of living in the UAE along with his visits to an Emirati home.

“I visited one of my Emirati friend’s house after he invited me and that gave me a very good window into Emirati culture. I was able to learn about Emirati traditions, how they live their lives and about their Islamic faith.

“As a Chinese person, there are obviously going to be cultural differences, but some of the things I learnt and saw made me see the similarities. In Chinese culture just like Emirati and Arab culture, there is an emphasis on having a very high respect for family relationships. And there are other things as well like doing what you can to help other people, which I know is something that’s really important here in the UAE,” he added.

Li said he was very happy about President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UAE, and said he believed the visit would mark a new promising chapter for UAE-China relations.

“I’m proud and happy to see Chinese President Xi visiting the UAE. I was doing a lot of research to try and see what events were going to be held with the president, I was hoping for a public one to go to.

“President Xi’s visit to the UAE as his first trip since being re-elected president sends a very good message, it bodes will for the future and for the development between our two countries,” he added.

Welcoming Emiratis

Tingxuan Zhu, 20, another Chinese student also at NYUAD, said she came to the UAE because she felt it was the best place for her to attend university and to also learn about different people.

“I was born and raised in China and so I wanted to go somewhere that had a completely different culture, and I chose the UAE because it’s a very safe country that has a good economy and also a good relationship with China.

“When I arrived, I took one year of Arabic [classes] and this really helped me to better understand what the culture here is like, which I found to be very welcoming and hospitable. One of the things that I have enjoyed a lot has been my visits to Emirati homes. They were always so nice to me and happy to welcome me to their houses,” she added.

“The Emirati concept was a bit foreign to me at first, but after I was introduced to their homes and had the chance to meet with them, I learnt a lot. I got to experience their locally made food and their traditions. They were so kind to me and even gave me gifts,” she said, positively recounting her interactions.

Zhu says her positive experience has also made her decide to stay in the UAE even after she graduates.

“I have a couple years to go until I graduate, and then after that my plan is to stay here and work. I have made this decision because I have enjoyed it so much here in the UAE, I never really considered working in the Middle East before, but having now studied here and witnessing what life is like has made me come to that choice,” she said.

Zhu, who is majoring in political science, was also happy about the relationship between her country and the UAE.

UAE-China partnership

“I definitely see the partnership getting better. I myself study political science and so I’m very excited about President Xi visiting the UAE, it’s his first visit outside China since being re-elected into office.

“The visit will initiate a lot of good things in terms of diplomacy, the economy, and also the cultural relations between the two countries. The deepening of ties will also mean more Chinese people coming to the UAE — students, tourists and business people. The UAE already has a good reputation in China and this will just make it stand out even more,” she added.