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Image Courtesy of Emily Broad

Studio XY: Saying Goodbyes

As Studio XY closes, not only do we lose a part of our community, but also a space that has defined NYU Abu Dhabi’s campus for years.

Dec 7, 2019

Last Wednesday, I walked across our quaint campus for a final appointment at [Studio X] ( As I entered, the receptionist, Virgi, greeted me with her bright smile and aquamarine hair. This would be my last haircut in the salon I adore, not because I am going away next semester, but because they will no longer be here.
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Image Courtesy of Emily Broad
On Nov. 14, NYUAD announced via the Student Portal that Studio XY’s lease would not be renewed as of the end of Dec. 2019. Their pending leave is the culmination of several legal and compliance challenges, including but not limited to delays in their monthly payments. The Filipino stylists have been together since 2015, and have only known each other while working together. While they will likely remain in the UAE, it is still uncertain whether they will be placed in the same salon.
Their departure is a loss for NYUAD’s campus, as they added a taste of the city to our community. I will miss walking around the outskirts of campus, passing by as the ladies feed the campus cats. I will miss their cheerful banter on the public bus from campus. I will miss their hugs and joyous “Hellos!” as I stop by the salon for a quick chat.
On the surface, Studio XY is a place for community members and those residing in Saadiyat to release stress through haircuts, manicures and more.
“All throughout college, whenever we were sad, stressed, or homesick, Hala [Aqel] and I would come down for a mani/pedi. There is something oddly de-stressing about being unable to move your fingers or feet — you can’t check emails or do your readings so you might as well not even worry about it for 40 minutes,” recounted Maya Morsli, Class of 2019 and former Editor-in-Chief of The Gazelle. “Studio XY was really a spot for self-care and an easy place to get away from it all.”
For some, fond memories were made in the small confines of the studio.
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Amos Katz, a faithful Studio Y customer and Film and New Media professor, described his favorite memory in the salon, “My son's first real haircut was with Christian at Studio Y in 2017. I will always remember that.”
Katz has previously invited the stylists to his house for dinner parties and was a key figure in organizing other faculty and community members to support them through their financial challenges in 2018.
Studio XY has formed a community that extends beyond current students and faculty to graduates scattered around the world. In 2019, the stylists even attended the Class of 2019’s graduation ceremony.
“I think my favorite memory is walking on my graduation and seeing them in the crowd, cheering for the rest of us. The whole community showed up and so did they, it was incredible,” Vuk Vukovic, Class of 2019, expressed cheerfully.
But the function of Studio XY goes beyond their wonderful services and budding friendships. It is a place for all of us to escape from the sometimes suffocating confines of campus. Although the salon is a quick five-minute walk from the dorms, it feels as if you are deep in the city when stopping by. Studio X was an uplifting female space where women from different walks of life could speak and connect with each other.
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“It was nice to feel like there was a place I could count on for a laugh and for consistency, something that is hard to come by at NYUAD,” Morsli explained, “ I think it made NYUAD a little bit less of a bubble.”
Despite the fact that the closing of Studio XY was inevitable, knowledge of their departure has come as an abrupt end to a place that has been an integral part of our Saadiyat campus for four years. The stylists, too, loved the community. They ate with us in D2 and never missed an Appreciation Day or a UAE National Day celebration. More importantly, they had much to look forward to on campus, thinking that they would be here for years to come. They hoped to one day be able to take part in the Office of Social Responsibility’s Adult Education Program and receive a certificate from NYU.
In some ways, Studio XY is a paradoxical space. Its location on campus and its familiar clientele are deeply reminiscent of NYUAD. But it is also a reminder that our university is built in a city greatly shaped by foreign workers. Like us, the stylists have created a home away from home through their friendships with each other. With Studio XY closing, we lose an understanding of the city and the migrants who inhabit it. Future generations of students will lose the opportunity to engage with such a charming group of people.
The stylists at Studio XY have been and will continue to be, although farther away, an integral part of our community.
The stylists’ last day at NYUAD is December 31. Before then, stop by to express your appreciation, schedule that last haircut, or bid them good luck and farewell. Please note that their future location is unknown.
Emily Broad is Photography Editor. Email her at
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