From the Mosque, we proceeded to a meeting with colleagues at Zayed University, which is a school for women that has campuses in Abu Dhabi and in Dubai. The meeting was organized by a colleague from the History Department there, and originally we’d been told we’d be meeting students who attended my Joanna Waley-Cohen’s lecture on the Silk Road the previous Monday night. In the event, however, the meeting was almost all faculty, with only one student present, and it was explained to us that to have more students present would have required elaborate security arrangements that had proven too difficult to arrange.
The session was nevertheless rewarding: it moved from an exchange of ideas about how to teach the history of the Silk Road to a broader discussion of the challenges of living and teaching in Abu Dhabi. The Silk Road has been added this year as a component of the core “colloquy” course that students are required to take, and we discussed the relative merits of having a core program with common required courses, versus one that has more “a la carte” offerings. Overall, the tone of the meeting was less about caution than about opportunity, and I met a number of colleagues with whom I’d like to be in touch about research projects in Abu Dhabi that I’m planning to propose.