“Marhaba” means “welcome” in Arabic. Our Marhaba Week at NYU Abu Dhabi begins on Monday when the students start arriving in earnest. As I mentioned earlier, I’m scheduled to speak over dessert at our Marhaba Iftar on Tuesday night, which follows the first gathering of the entire class of 2014. It will take place in the Ramadan Tent that is being erected in the parking lot behind the downtown campus building.

I’d thought that this would be an event that would include the entire community, faculty as well as students and student life staff. But apparently the tent was not going to be big enough to accommodate that number of people.

I (and a few others) mentioned to Vice Chancellor Al Bloom that faculty members were disappointed at not participating in this event: they were eager not only to be part of  a ceremonial occasion, but also to send a signal that they would be an integral part of the students’ lives here.

Al mulled it over. And he got us a bigger tent.

The faculty will now observe the first student event and then sit with students during the dinner. And (fingers crossed) both students and faculty will engage (after my little talk) in the first of what I hope will be many conversations about cosmopolitanism and scholarship here at NYU Abu Dhabi.

I take this as a wonderful omen on the eve of the students’ arrival, not only a sign of the responsiveness of the NYUAD leadership, but also an allegory of the possibilities that we have here if we all work together to achieve our common aims.