x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Towards a new decade

Ten years after the September 11 attacks, cultural, educational and personal ties are helping to bring the people of the US and the UAE together.

The United States had always been a major destination for university students from across the region. Overnight the September 11 attacks changed that.

As The National columnist Taryam Al Subaihi argues today, the repercussions for Emiratis were immediate, putting individual careers at risk and testing bilateral goodwill.

Common sense has, to some extent, prevailed in the intervening years. Emirati students are returning to the United States for higher education. Western prejudice is sadly alive and well, but a man in a kandura or a woman wearing an abaya in most cases will be treated with respect.

Cultural exchange is a two-way street. Many US universities are opening branches in the UAE to establish a presence in the Middle East: New York University was the first to have a comprehensive liberal arts and sciences programme here, while the University of Washington, Boston University and Rochester Institute of Technology have followed.

Educational exchange is just an example of shared interests that will lead the way forward, not only for the UAE and the United States, or the West and the Middle East, but in almost every case. There is still the unfortunate blather of extremists and unscrupulous politicians, but most see it for what it is. For the rest of us, we have far more in common than differences.