After three years of planning, the university opened its doors in September 2003, to an entering class of 1,000 students on its two campuses in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. Unlike other colleges and universities in the UAE, ADU undertook the measures necessary to ensure that all of the degree programs it would offer had secured accreditation from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in advance of any students enrolling in them.
The founders of the university envisioned an institution that would be among the best in the UAE, the Arabian Gulf region and throughout the world. This is a great challenge for a new institution of higher learning, but one that can and will be attained in the years ahead. ADU’s programs, encompassing a variety of different cultures and structures, mirror the past and present of our society and anticipate the emerging future needs of the UAE. ADU offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees based upon the American model of higher education; in addition, several professional diploma and postgraduate diploma programs, utilizing the British system of postsecondary education, are available. The official language of the university is English; however, the university offers degree and diploma programs both in English and Arabic. The English Language Institute at ADU assists students with the improvement of their English language skills such that they can study university degree programs regardless of their previous language proficiencies.