Image: Downtown Abu Dhabi
AFP-Getty Images file
Abu Dhabi has grown from a desert town to an urban mecca that includes everything from shopping malls to universities.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/30/2008 1:12:12 PM ET 2008-09-30T17:12:12

New York University has appointed the president of Swarthmore College to run its Abu Dhabi campus in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.

The university announced that Alfred Bloom will take over full-time leadership of the Middle East campus by August, laying the groundwork for the first students to arrive in fall 2010.

Bloom, the president of Swarthmore in suburban Philadelphia since 1991, announced in May that he was stepping down.

New York University's Middle East campus aims to attract students from across the Arab and Muslim world.

"Together, NYU New York and NYU Abu Dhabi will form the backbone of a unique Global Network University," NYU said in a statement Monday, "with faculty and students from either New York or Abu Dhabi spending 'semesters away' at one or more of the numerous study abroad sites NYU maintains on five continents."

Bloom said he was drawn to the project "by what makes it so extraordinary: the opportunity to develop a world class center of learning and intellectual advance from the ground up."

"I see the challenges, but I see even more importantly the prospect of truly advancing the role of education in promoting cooperative pursuit of knowledge, global understanding, and ultimately a world that recognizes and builds on human common ground," he added. "This is a critical next step for higher education, and NYU is the university that is positioned to take it."

Abu Dhabi has become the cultural center of the United Arab Emirates. Besides foreign universities opening up campuses there, other projects include a symphony orchestra hall and branches of the Guggenheim and Louvre museums.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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