Mason Opens Its First Program in United Arab Emirates

Posted: November 8, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

In September, Rae Roberts, director of George Mason’s Foundation Program on the Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Campus in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and her staff began their first semester of classes teaching students how to communicate successfully and comfortably in English in an academic setting.

The Foundation English Language Program will allow students to pursue further course work at the RAK Campus, which is scheduled to begin full-scale operations in fall 2006.

The Foundation Program currently has 30 students from nine different Middle Eastern countries and regions – the UAE, Yemen, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, the Sudan, Oman, Iraq, Iran and Jordan. These students, who are preparing for the TOEFL and SAT tests, have taken classes in a recently renovated men’s college that has three classrooms, a computer lab and a library.

“My experience in the UAE has been a memorable one,” says Roberts via e-mail. She arrived in August to greet a staff that includes three faculty members who have each taught in the Middle East for five or more years. Two of the faculty members are from the United States and one is from Australia.

“Ras Al Khaimah is an interesting place to live,” Roberts reports. “As it is located on the Persian Gulf, one can swim every day. It is also surrounded by low-lying mountains and nearby sand dunes for the more adventurous.

“The biggest adjustment has been to the temperatures,” Roberts continues. “When I arrived in August it was around 115 degrees Fahrenheit each day. We are now in the cooling cycle of winter, and the days have cooled to around 95 degrees. I am told that it will continue to cool. Camping equipment is springing up in the stores, and outdoor cafes are opening, as it is now cool enough to begin to enjoy the outdoors.

“We are all looking forward to continuing the program next semester and to the opening of the new campus next year. We want to thank the hardworking staff for all that they did to help to open the first Mason program here.”

For more on Roberts’ experiences in the UAE earlier this year, read the Gazette article.

Write to at