Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What is going on in Abu Dhabi?

It is widely know, I think, that NYU has had a "regional" campus in Abu Dhabi for a number of years. But I recently learned via the JFP that the Sorbonne has opened a campus there, too. What in the fuck?

--Mr. Zero


Anonymous said...

And so The Philosophy Smoker slowly turns into Philosophers Anonymous...

Mr. Zero said...

Have I blogged about punk rock in the last month? No I have not.

zombie said...

The NY Times has a pretty good article about this topic here:


The short answer is, there's money in it, son.

Rich countries want the prestige of having foreign universities set up campuses, and they'll pay handsomely for it. In the post-9/11 world, it's harder for cash cow students from the Middle East to travel to the US for education, but they can go to NYU Abu Dhabi.

Anonymous said...

"The top schools where I want to apply are Oxford at Abu Dhabi and the Sorbonne at Abu Dhabi. My safety's Harvard at Abu Dhabi."

Anonymous said...

They say the logician at Abu Dhabi is so rich, he is driving around in a Range Over.

Mr. Blume said...



Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Yeah. There's lots of people there who are basically indentured servants from the Indian subcontinent and Indonesia. I'm pretty sure that women have in practice no rights or freedoms. So, that's what's going on in Abu Dhabi -- rich Arabs are oppressing women and poor foreigners from developing nations. That doesn't seem to bother NYU or the Sorbonne too much, I guess, if there's money to be made charging mad tuition dollars there.

Besides, the Sex and the City 2 movie took place there in part and was such a bad movie it makes me wonder why anyone would even want to go to there still.

Anonymous said...

A tip from recent personal experience for us under-employed types:

I recently didn't have my contract renewed as a VAP (really, any loss of job will do so long as its not your fault -- e.g., quitting or fired with cause), and I have another VAP position lined up for the Fall at another school. I filed for and am now receiving unemployment benefits for the summer months from my previous institution. I am receiving unemployment benefits, even while receiving pay and benefits (9 month contract spread over 12 months).

I know unemployment varies from state to state, so your mileage may vary.

Anonymous said...


I hear the logician is a she, and prefers her classic Modal T, while wearing a Gödel.

Matthew Silverstein said...

Anonymous posting at 5:14pm on June 15 writes: "I'm pretty sure that women have in practice no rights or freedoms."

Ridiculous. My wife works as an attorney in Abu Dhabi, drives regularly, wears what she wants, eats and drinks what she wants, and so forth. Please don't spread this kind of disinformation.

And for the record, though Sex in the City 2 takes place there, it was not filmed in the Emirates.

Matthew Silverstein
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
NYU Abu Dhabi

Anonymous said...

Prof. Silverstein,

I assume your wife is either not from Abu Dhabi, or is a very wealthy Emirati?

Though I am not myself Emirati I am Middle Eastern and have spent time in Abu Dhabi (among other places in the middle east). Actually, my maternal uncles and their families live there. Life is very different in the Emirates for women of "Muslim" descent, particularly those who are not either wealthy locals or Anglo/pass-for-Anglo expatriates. I once flew through Dubai (alone) en route to Lahore wearing skinny jeans and a fitted tank top with a cardigan. I was informed by the flight attendant as I disembarked that my attire was "unsuitable" for a Muslim woman, that I looked like "an American whore" and that I should change before leaving the airport. When my bag was searched by customs, my perfectly legal cigarettes were handed by the female customs agent to my mother, and my mother was lectured on "allowing" her daughter (I am in my 30s) to smoke. I've had numerous other experiences while traveling-- on my American passport -- through the middle east and Indian subcontinent.

I've said similar things before to white people who go to India, Pakistan, Bengladesh, etc. "Oh, it was lovely, and everyone was so kind and helpful." Yet my experiences traveling in those places is quite different, since I am from the oppressed demographic.

I wonder how the average women of Abu Dhabi -- rather than the foreign or wealthy wives of American expatriates -- feel about the culture of oppression there.

Also note: foreign labor, which amounts to indentured servitude, is still a serious problem.

And the SATC2 thing -- that was a joke. I do realize that the movie was filmed in Morocco, which is why I said it took place there.

Matthew Silverstein said...

My wife is American (white and non-Muslim), and so we obviously cannot speak directly about the experiences of Arab or Muslim women in the Emirates. My Muslim colleagues and students (at least the ones I know well) have not reported the sorts of encounters you describe, but I don't doubt that they occur. But this is a far cry from the claim you made in your first comment, namely, that "women have in practice no rights or freedoms." That claim -- which likens Abu Dhabi to Saudi Arabia with respect to the treatment of women -- is clearly false.

Regarding the labor situation, I hope you'll at least consider the possibility that NYU's presence in the Emirates is making things better, rather than worse.

Anonymous said...

the Sex and the City 2 movie took place there in part

But w/o that movie we would not have the wonderful phrase "Lawrence of my labia", so surely it was worth something.