Heard in Abu Dhabi

Students and faculty meet executives at the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations.

The Al Mina fish market before opening on Sunday, the start of the workweek in the UAE.

In the last two days, the UAE DIS has met everyone who’s anyone—with the possible exception of the royal family—in Abu Dhabi.

Let’s run through this: They’ve heard from NYU Abu Dhabi (whose campus opens in September 2010), the General Women’s Union, a government-run traditional craft cooperative, the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO), the Petroleum Institute, the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, a foreign relations thinktank, and the Tourism Development and Investment Company, the outfit responsible for some of the city’s highest-profile development projects. They also squeezed in a pre-dawn stop at the Al Mina fish market.

Here’s a tiny sliver of what you, the underprivileged lot not on the DIS, have missed hearing:

  • “Abu Dhabi is paying for everything. NYU is providing the intellectual capital,” said Brett Heeger, special assistant to the provost, commenting on the opening of the university in September 2010. Most of the 150 first-year students will be on full financial aid.
  • The UAE’s bountiful oil reserves are tied to the country’s geology: Historically, it sat on “massive shallow sand flats, a tidal shelf, where marine organisms were covered up, eventually creating oil reservoirs,” said an ADCO executive. The remains of ancient marine life, when layered and heated over the long haul, turn into liquids and gases that can later be drilled. ADCO has proven oil reserves estimated to last approximately 90 years.
  • “No one talks in millions here,” said Michelle Daniel, the corporate strategy manager for the Tourism Development and Investment Company, commenting on the $6 billion dirhams ($1.6 billion) her firm will spend to develop Saadiyat Island. By 2013, the island will be a cultural mecca, home to a Louvre designed by Jean Nouvel, a Frank Gehry Guggenheim and a performing arts center by Zaha Hadid. In addition to upmarket housing, the island will also be the site for NYU Abu Dhabi’s permanent campus, expected to open in 2014.—Renée Olson, Editor, Drew Magazine

View more photos from Abu Dhabi.

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