The University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) celebrated the 25th anniversary of its establishment in the UAE at a gala dinner held at the prestigious Waldorf Astoria, Dubai Palm Jumeirah.
The dinner, hosted by UOWD President, Professor Mohamed-Vall M. Salem ZEIN, was attended by a number of distinguished guests, including His Excellency Ian Halliday, Australian Consul-General Dubai and General Manager – Middle East, Africa and Turkey, Australian Trade and Investment Commission; Professor Paul Wellings, CBE, University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor; Professor Alex Frino, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, UOW; Mr Peter Robson AO, Chairman of the UOWD Board; Marisa Mastroianni, Group CEO and Managing Director, UOW Global Enterprises; Ms Julie Shams, Chargé d’affaires, Australian Embassy; Dr James Langridge, University Fellow and chief architect of UOWD and other members of the UOWD Board.
In his welcoming address, Professor Mohamed Salem said that the University’s transformational journey over the last 25 years have been phenomenal, and commended the staff and stakeholders for their contributions, as well as the UAE government for supporting the University to become a prominent leader of quality higher education in the region.
“As the UAE strives to position itself among the world’s leading innovative nations, we will continue to play an important role in bringing forward innovative ways to empower people and communities”, he said.
Addressing the guests, Mr Peter Robson AO, Chairman of the UOWD Board, paid special tribute to Dr James Langridge for his extraordinary contribution in spearheading the establishment of UOWD in the UAE.
In 1993 the University, then known as the Institute for Australian Studies (lAS) opened its doors in a commercial building, opposite Al Mulla Plaza, for the eight students who enrolled to learn English. In 2000, the University became the first foreign tertiary institution in Dubai to receive its license from the UAE Ministry of Education – Higher Education Affairs and officially changed its name to the University of Wollongong in Dubai in 2003. Two years later, the University moved to Dubai Knowledge Park, the hub for educational activity in Dubai and it 2010 it became the first private university in Dubai to introduce doctoral programs – the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
Today, a quarter of a century later, UOWD has more than 3,000 students and a strong alumni network of nearly 11,000 graduates and due to the growing student numbers, will be moving to its new state-of-the-art campus towards the beginning of 2020.
With Hermoine Macura, UOW Alumna, TV anchor and Founder of Straight Street Media as Emcee, the gala dinner was the highlight of the University’s year-long celebrations, marking the institution’s 25th anniversary in Dubai as the oldest foreign university in the UAE. The event attracted guests from business and government organisations across the Emirates, who joined UOWD alumni and staff in commemorating this momentous occasion.
Speaking on behalf of the Australian Ambassador to the UAE, Ms Julie Shams, Chargé d’affaires, Australian Embassy in the UAE said that the University has been flying the flag for Australian Education in Dubai for 25 years and that the Australian Government is taking great pride in its achievements. She also commended the University for its commitment to academic excellence and navigating growth opportunities.
“The University truly understands the regional, local and global market in which it is operating and should also be commended for having developed links with the industry that has led to innovative research and collaboration with long-lasting and positive outcomes that will impact the society.”
Delivering the keynote address, Professor Paul Wellings, CBE, Vice-Chancellor, UOW, commended the University for their outstanding achievements over the last 25 years and for the role it has been playing in the growth of the UAE since its establishment.
“Central to UOWD’s outstanding growth is that it is continually developing new programs intrinsically linked to the development of the UAE. The University is in fact, growing with Dubai and is broadening its operations to fulfil in the growing needs of Dubai”
The University launched a commemorative book narrating UOWD’s journey of transformation during the course of the evening whilst Professor Mohamed Salem unveiled the miniature 3D model of UOWD’s the new campus alongside Mr Peter Robson AO.
Celebrating the University’s Silver Jubilee, the University of Wollongong, Australia, presented UOWD with a pure silver bullion sculpture commissioned by artist Adrian Ward, which symbolises how written word has been on a journey of transformation, from the development of papyrus to the digital age of computers but that it will continue to be the key to education.
Ms Marisa Mastroianni, Group CEO and Managing Director of UOW Global Enterprises, concluded the event with the Vote of Thanks and presented the long serving members of staff, Talib Ahmed, Mohamed Abdul Rasheed, Manoj Mathew, Afij Mohamed and Colleen Symss, with a special token of appreciation for their loyalty and dedication.