The Arts and Humanities at NYUAD encompass fields of central importance to human culture and creativity. Students explore fundamental questions of human thought, cultural values, and modes of expression, and they develop their own creative capacities as scholars, writers, and artists in a variety of media. In each area of inquiry, courses respond to the location of Abu Dhabi and enable students to deepen their understanding of Middle Eastern history and culture. The following programs are located in The Arts Center.


The NYUAD Theater Program is an academic and artistic laboratory dedicated to theater research, scholarship and practice. Reflecting the global vision of NYUAD, a cosmopolitan liberal arts university, we provide a rigorous physical-based approach to artist training, a solid scholarly foundation in theater history, theory and criticism, and exposure to a variety of transglobal cultural practices through the study of theater both here and abroad. For NYUAD theater majors, making and thinking – creating and articulating— culture are inseparable tasks. Our aim is to develop artist-citizens whose theatrical contributions will expand the limits of the field and make a difference in the world. We expect NYUAD theater majors to become fearless and visionary theater makers, eager to collaborate with other artists, scientists and scholars across disciplines and who will invent new and hybrid cultural practices that will come to define what theater will be in the 21st century.

*Joanna Settle, Program Head of Theater; Associate Arts Professor of Theater


The Music Program is committed to educating a new generation of musicians capable of understanding and making music on a transnational and interdisciplinary scale, in an eclectic yet rigorous fashion. Students majoring in music acquire skills in composition, technology, and performance, and they develop ways to consider music from a theoretical and historical perspective. The program offers students the opportunity to learn firsthand about a diverse range of traditional and popular musics spanning various cultures and styles. This is accomplished by drawing on the uniqueness of Abu Dhabi as a cosmopolitan city and an international hub, and by taking special advantage of its location next door to the thriving media scene of Dubai, as well as its close proximity to major regional music centers, including Istanbul, Beirut, Cairo, Delhi and Accra.

*Matthew Quayle, Program Head of Music; Assistant Arts Professor of Music


Film and New Media at NYUAD integrates the making of film and new media with the study of their histories, conventions, and practices. Students take both practice and studies courses, and finish their degree with a capstone project that reflects the historical and cultural contexts of their interests and studies. The intermingling of studies and practice and the relatively easy traffic between majors and concentrations at NYUAD enables Film and New Media majors to connect their study to a broad range of other fields and disciplines, such as Interactive Media, Arab Crossroads, Art and Art History, Literature and Creative Writing, Computer Science, Social Research and Public Policy, and Theater. Abu Dhabi links students to some of the largest and oldest film industries in the world, including India, Egypt, and the vibrant film and new media cultures throughout the Maghreb and the Mashriq, Iran, Turkey, South and East Asia, Africa, and the Gulf, as well as Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. This is a vibrant training ground for makers, curators and students of film and new media.

*Awam Ampka, Program Head of Film & New Media; Professor of Drama, Social and Cultural Analysis


From pre-historic cave art to the digital media of today, human beings across the globe and through the ages have used visual forms to understand and shape their world. Painting, sculpture, architecture as well as ornament, design, and photography have provided rich traditions of visual expression and communication, and the development of new media has greatly expanded this visual repertoire. Different cultures, in different places and at different times, have valued and conceptualized vision and made use of the visual arts in a variety of ways. The visual arts investigate and re-imagine the physical, social, cultural, and spiritual spheres of human existence and offer arguments about and interpretations of these realms.

*David Darts, Program Head of Art & Art History; Associate Dean of Arts; Associate Professor


From the electric telegraph to personal computers, from the participatory web to intelligent networks, our tools for communication and media production are constantly changing the ways we connect with one another. Interactive Media’s mission aims to make sense of these developments by demystifying their inner-workings and leveraging them as a means for creative expression, communication, and participation. In practice, the program rests at the convergence of art, design, communications, computer science, and engineering. The technologies are posited not as an end in themselves but as a means to address fundamental questions pertaining to the human condition, complex relationships between ourselves and our mediated environment, and what it means to be an active participant in a world increasingly informed by computation and automation.

Aaron Sherwood, Program Head of Interactive Media; Assistant Arts Professor of Interactive Media