Zayed varsity’s new campus wows students

As the 4,147 Zayed University (ZU) students found their way around their new campus on the first day of classes on Sunday, their attention was grabbed by the imposing structures of the 80-hectare facility in Khalifa City.

By Olivia Olarte

Published: Tue 13 Sep 2011, 9:43 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:41 AM

Excitement was high as students started discovering every nook and cranny of their newly constructed campus, which will serve as their second home throughout their college years.

“It’s a beautiful campus, we’re very excited about it,” gushed Mahra Hulaiman Al Hameli, 20, third-year student of Marketing at the College of Business.

Divided into three main campuses — male and female section and the central area — the university comprises 28 buildings, including a 1,000-seat convention centre, a sports complex, four-storey library, dining facilities, residential buildings, large car park areas, promenades (main gathering areas), a children’s education centre with childcare facilities and provisions for special needs.

The sweeping aluminium-clad roof, designed to resemble an abaya with its continuous flowing structure, is the main feature of the whole facility. It is the first of its kind in the region. The roof structure spans the university’s library, central courtyard, administration faculty and convention centre, and provides a large open central space which can accommodate over 1,500 people.

Mahra, who is also the Student Council president, was particularly impressed with her university’s round library, which she likened to that of the US Congress, the large classroom space and the availability of study rooms.

“Teachers are no longer in cubicles, they now have their own offices,” she added.

“Parking is no longer an issue,” Amal Khouri, 20, a junior in International Affairs, remarked.

Amal is also looking forward to the new smart board technology in the classroom, students having their own lockers and their new ID cards which, she said, will have a security system that would grant them access to non-restricted areas.

“It will be stricter than before as the new security system won’t be under the ZU security, Mubadala will be taking care of this. We have to be careful not to lose it,” Amal said.

The female students were also thrilled at having a “mall” (promenade) near their classrooms which will feature retail outlets, coffee shops and restaurants.

Despite the large ground students have to walk to get to their classes, they were not daunted. They simply said “we don’t get to wear heels anymore”.

“Now that we have a huge space, the students are more motivated to lose weight,” stated Ghalya Yousuf Abdulla, 19, third-year Finance student.

The new environment also inspired students to be better this academic year.

“It is in the air here, everyone is excited to study harder,” Mahra observed.

However, as typical of new facilities, there are teething problems that need to be resolved such as ensuring strict segregation of the males and females.

“For the first couple of months, the gym will be used by the guys till they figure out ways to separate,” said Ghalya.

The administration building, which is shared by the two campuses, has yet to have proper doors separating the male and female sections. Thus, students entering from the male section have to be escorted by a security guard to ensure they do not come across the female students.

Access to some areas is also an issue as some doors are locked, especially those leading to the courtyard and classrooms, which Ahmed, 22, described as “unnecessary problems”.

“The doors are locked; doors that lead to classrooms which have nothing to do with the segregation of the boys and the girls and which when unlocked will provide easy access to our classrooms. Right now, we have to go around to get to our classrooms. Whenever we ask the security, they say that is the rule,” said a senior HR Management student.

The courtyard doors are also closed from the second floor of the library. The courtyard, which is divided by a wall to separate the two campuses, is visible.

“This could be solved by tinting the windows,” suggested Ahmed.

Ghalya added that the library is closed until timings, when each campus can use it, are sorted out.

“As a structure, the campus is very beautiful but as services provided, there are virtually no services — from catering to Internet and gym facilities, which are temporarily closed. They are supposed to open at the same time,” complained Ahmed.

When Ahmed raised these issues to the ZU administration, “they said they are doing their best to try to solve the problem”.

“I’m really looking forward to these issues getting resolved so that we can enjoy our new campus experience to the fullest,” Ahmed hoped.

Drew Gardner, associate professor in Biology, Science and Environment, confirmed the lack of wireless Internet access “at least for the first week”. But this did not dispel his awe of the campus building.

“It is an amazing improvement from the last campus,” he said noting the over 30 laboratories compared to the three labs they had previously.

In an orientation held last week for the new students, Dr Sulaiman Al Jassim, Vice-President of ZU, said, “Your country gave you a lot to enhance your progress and pave your (way) for a bright professional future, and you have to bear your share of responsibility in that regard.

“This magnificent and beautiful campus has cost the government nearly Dh4 billion, and we are keen to bring the world standard professors from 36 countries to teach you in a high standard methods, the most recent advancement of science, technology and creative studies.”

The ZU campus was developed in partnership with Mubadala Development Company and the Abu Dhabi Education Council. Construction of the campus, which has an initial capacity of 6,000 students, commenced in 2009 and finished in July this year. Future build-out plan will accommodate up to 10,000 students.

The new Abu Dhabi campus will be officially inaugurated on December 7 to coincide with the National Day celebrations.

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