Squares Set to Connect Students Across the UAE

Squares launched its inaugural event on Friday, Oct. 25. This new student-led initiative seeks to connect NYU Abu Dhabi students with 50 students from ...

Oct 26, 2013

Squares launched its inaugural event on Friday, Oct. 25. This new student-led initiative seeks to connect NYU Abu Dhabi students with 50 students from UAE University, NYU New York, Masdar Institute, Higher Colleges of Technology (Men and Women), Khalifa University and Paris-Sorbonne University.
Squares was initially conceived in February as part of the Global Education Think Tank competition as an attempt to strengthen the bonds between NYU New York students studying abroad in Abu Dhabi and students at NYUAD. This project was the winning entry in the competition. The name Squares refers to the squares which define other NYU sites: Washington Square in New York, Independence Square in Ghana and Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. The organizers hope to create another Square here in Abu Dhabi.
Squares subsequently expanded its goal of creating a platform for NYUAD students to interact with their non-NYUAD peers. The idea was sent out to other universities and included this video summarizing the mission of the group to create “a program  in which students can join and meet students from different class years, different schools and different cultural backgrounds.”
“The overall idea is to foster a better relationship between the UAE community and NYUAD students,” said organizer and sophomore Mahlet Kassa.
The initial response was positive and widespread with more than a quarter of responses from outside NYUAD. Participating students were sorted into seven groups, or squares, each consisting of seven or eight students who were encouraged to take the initiative to create their own events. The launch was designed to bring these groups together and to suggest which kinds of meetups could be arranged.
Latifa Abu Shibs, a student of Sharjah Higher College of Technology, said she was excited about Squares. This prospect juxtaposes her experience in a college that only accepts Emirati women.
“It will create more relationships between different kinds of people and different nationalities,” she said. “We will be aware of different nationalities, how they behave, for example, or what their interests are.”
Instead of creating bonds through competition, Squares seeks to have person-to-person contact.
“Squares is very informal; it's very everyday, and it's also very personal,” said Kassa. “It's more about forming friendships than connections.”
Sophomore Geo Kamus, one of Squares’ organizers, said that 56 students signed up but only two were present at the launch.
“[It] would be the hardest thing to get people [together] especially since they got people going to school in Al Ain and Sharjah, those are all kind of far away,” said junior Amel Yagoub.
“I'm sure someone will send out emails, but I'm not sure how successful it will be. I think the groups are a bit on the big size ... I don't know if I can fit eight people's schedules into one event,” Yagoub added.
Kamus said that he believes people are committed to forging connections and remains positive about Squares’ future, but he acknowledged it may not be easy.
“I think how sustainable [Squares] will be really depends on how much effort we put in,” Kamus said. “It's very easy for this to fall by the wayside.”
Connor Pearce is deputy opinion editor. Email him at
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