The UOWD campus was abuzz with excitement on Thursday as the University launched its 20th anniversary celebrations in spectacular style.
More than 800 current, former and future students, along with their families and friends, joined UOWD staff and the wider community to celebrate the momentous occasion, with a vast array of fun-filled activities and events at the University campus in Dubai Knowledge Village.
The campus celebration was the first major event taking place this year to mark the 20th anniversary of UOWD’s establishment in Dubai. It is two decades since the University of Wollongong in Australia became the first foreign institution to set up a campus in the UAE.
Following the official opening, the day began with a DJ set, with student MC Yinka helping to get the party started early on. The crowds were then treated to the first of two rounds of the ‘Wollongong’s Got Talent’ competition, where current students showcased their skills in a range of unique performances, from tradition Arabic singing to original rap acts. The Abu Dhabi Big Band followed with a set of classic swing tunes and the DJ kept the dance floor filled with an eclectic mix of popular music from around the world.
Throughout the day guests took part in a series of fun challenges and competitions. Participants took the opportunity to ride a gyroscope, shoot some hoops, test their skills on the mechanical rodeo bull and compete in a football shootout challenge. A customary Australian barbecue and traditional Arabic cuisine were also on offer, along with a large range of sampling stalls offering sweet and savoury treats.
Emerging from the face painting stall, Senna Hazem, a fourth year BCom Marketing student said, “My friends persuaded me to come today and I’m so glad they did. There’s a great buzz, everyone is having a lot of fun and the talent contest has been really exciting. I’m in my final year and this makes me very sad to be leaving UOWD, it’s been a really enjoyable experience.”
The second round of the ‘Wollongong’s Got Talent’ competition saw more captivating performances from UOWD students, covering a range of talents from instrumental recitals to energetic dance acts. An impressive variety of performances left the judges a difficult task, with belly dancer Mariya finally being awarded first place.
As the acts left the stage, Ramy Soheel, a postgraduate student in Information Technology Management commented, “After seeing the performances today I’m inspired to join some of the university clubs. It’s been an exciting day, everyone’s dancing and singing and having an amazing time. I’ve met some lovely people and really enjoyed the celebrations.”
Joining the event after work, Doctoral student Salim Ghazvini Kor said, “It’s great that UOWD cares about the wider university experience, as well as the academic importance of being here. This event is the perfect way to commemorate the success of the past 20 years.”
Following the presentation of the competition prizes, the ceremonial activities began, with UOWD President Elect, Professor Trevor Spedding and Dean of Computer Science and Engineering, Dr Mohamed Salem cutting the official 20th anniversary cake. Dr Salem recounted the history of UOWD, from its inception, with seven language students based in a small office on the Sharjah / Dubai border, to its present Knowledge Village campus, hosting over 3500 students and delivering 25 accredited degree programs. The crowds then joined in a ‘happy birthday’ chorus, and returned to the dance floor as the party continued.
UOWD Alumni Devika Narain and Anam Masud came along to join the festivities together. Anam said, “We graduated in December 2010 and are back three years on to celebrate this event. We really miss the university and great times like this. It’s good to be back, the place feels like home.”
As the evening drew on, staff reflected on their own experience of their time at UOWD. Dr Mohamed Watfa, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering said. “I have been at the University of Wollongong in Dubai for six years, and they have been the best years of my life. It’s great to be a part of the celebrations of 20 years of success and I’m sure there will be many more years of success to come.”
UOWD is grateful for the generous support of the following providers in contributing to the event: Al Baraka Juices, Avon, Cellogique, Coffeol, IFFCO, Kellogg’s and Unilever.