Illustration by Assel Mukanova

Washer Chronicles: Why Abu Dhabi Has So Many Malls

Working dryers an endangered species? Clothes wetter than they entered the dryer? Shrunk into a kids’ size? All part of the strategic plan for NYUAD to give back to fast fashion retailers.

Oct 2, 2022

This article is a contribution to The Gazelle's weekly satire column.
Ever gone to pick up your clothes from the laundry room to find that they’ve discolored and shrunk three sizes? Or worse, that they’ve vanished with the wind? Or maybe found them sitting in a pile on the floor five minutes after the dryer cycle has ended despite the availability of a million better places to move them to. You’re far from alone. All campus social platforms have seen a sevenfold increase in laundry posts this year, ranging from passive aggressive to regular aggressive to borderline homicidal.
Once in the distant utopian past, the New York University Abu Dhabi campus was so underpopulated you scarcely saw a soul on the Highline. The laundry rooms were absolutely pristine, fitted with twelve shiny Gorenje machines that could take any pile of clothes from sopping wet to crisp hot cleanliness within an hour flat. But more and more machines have disappeared, to the point where whole Residential College buildings only have three washing machines with one of them regularly flooding, which further complicates the problems in the dryer cycle.
“Think about it: we’re isolated out here on Saadiyat,” said last year’s Dean of Residential Education Operations, Korp Ration. “We stay in our bubble, spending every form of new currency this university can invent, but do students ever contribute to the city’s economy? No. I was tasked with changing that.”
When I brought my parents to Abu Dhabi, the first thing they saw was three malls within walking distance — if the walk didn’t involve crossing eight lane roads in 45 degree heat — all thriving with yet another being built right next door. Every single one contained the exact same retailers within. How else to do so other than making sure everything breaks so it has to get fixed?
Residential Education has collaborated with the campus maintenance provider to employ student assistants, who would receive additional money to circulate throughout Abu Dhabi’s 600 H&M locations. These students can only be identified by their nicknames.
A sample of them includes the Underwear Bandit, who has brought terror and unease while depriving students of their most necessary articles. The Sink Clogger has ensured that the full water tanks have nowhere to go other than into a standing pool of dryer lint and concentrated washing powder. The Scatterer serves to increase entropy, taking soaking wet clothes from flooded washers and scattering them around the room — behind the dryers, on the floor, perhaps mixed in with someone else’s basket. They might end up in the ziptied receptacles where they belong, but that isn’t their purpose.
As intended, some students have started to internalize the realization that laundry is a losers’ game. “After a difficult week of problem sets from the bowels of hell and a whole book of reading per class, the last thing I want is to walk into the laundry room and see that everything I’ve become attached to has gotten up and left me,” said Tomux Hazle, Class of 2023.
Refusing to commit to a shirt that could only be stolen by some enterprising first year, permanently disfigured, or shriveled into nothing, he now takes the first shuttle to the mall as soon as his wardrobe selection is running low. Much to the chagrin of his classmates’ unmasked olfactory glands, he has tried to determine through trial and error just how many times an entire outfit can be reworn. The amount of students engaged in this form of Experimental Inquiry, part of NYUAD’s Core Curriculum, has led some professors to push for a temporary stopgap in the addition of a deodorant mandate.
With the NBA standing to take over the campus swimming pool next week, it remains a possibility that with enough flooding the A6B laundry room can become the replacement facility for our student body. As this crisis continues, the war of attrition on students with clothes is pushing the average time of burnout among the student body sooner and sooner. The average NYUAD student has already burned out and lost the appetite for productivity just three weeks into the fall semester, the earliest time on record. Clothing retailers in Abu Dhabi are eagerly waiting for the continuation of the laundry crisis on campus, as alliances regroup for the great battle for the fate of our pants.
Ethan Fulton is Senior Opinion Editor and Satire Columnist. Email him at
gazelle logo