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Commencement : 2009
Under the Patronage and in the Presence of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum


Elias Bou Saab: Ask not what your country can do for you…. Ask what you can do for your country

General Colin Powell: Let your dreams be your only limitation

Valedictorian: We have been awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Life

Lance de Masi: Life’s greatest regrets come not from the things you do, but from those you never get around to doing


Dubai, May 13, 2009 - Under the patronage and in the presence of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the American University in Dubai (AUD) held its Twelfth Commencement Exercises on Wednesday, May 13, at 5:30 p.m., in the Sheikh Rashid Hall of the Dubai International World Trade Center.

Sheikh Mohammed & VIPs

The audience of more than 4,500, included H.H Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum - Crown Prince of Dubai, H.H Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum - Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Mohammed Al Gergawi - Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali - Minister of Health, Humaid Al Qattanmi - Minister of Education, Abdul Rehamn Al Owais - Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, Obaid Humaid Al Tayer - Minister of State for Financial Affairs, Reem Al Hashimi - UAE Minister of State, Richard G. Olson - Ambassador of the United States to the UAE, US Consul General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates Paul Sutphin, Members of the AUD Governing Board, and several dignitaries and prominent members of the local UAE community, parents, family and friends of the graduates .

Front stage

This year, AUD had the pleasure of welcoming as keynote speaker General Colin L. Powell (Ret.), 65th U.S. Secretary of State during its Commencement, at which more than 400 undergraduate and graduate students from nearly 50 different nationalities received their American-accredited degrees in the fields of Business Administration, Engineering, Visual Communication, Information Technology and Interior Design.

EVP Elias Bou Saab

The first Speaker at the ceremony was AUD Executive Vice President Elias Bou Saab

"We are lucky to be in the UAE and in Dubai which boasts high-quality infrastructure, established security and safety as well as a vision from its leadership for the future."

EVP Bou Saab further noted the prudent leadership of President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and their far-sighted visions for a host of political, economic, educational and social issues.

He said: “it is not how well you do when the way is clear and the world safe, but instead when the way is difficult and the path uncertain”.

Quoting Gebran Khalil Gebran, EVP Bou Saab concluded by telling the graduates that the futures of all our nations depend on what you and your colleagues will be doing in the years to come.

General Colin Powell

General Colin Powell in his turn commented on Dubai, the American University in Dubai and its role in Education in the Region:


“I find it fascinating that this spirit of seeking change to meet the needs of the times is so strong and rich in Dubai and the UAE. You see it in the vibrant programs of the American University in Dubai”. He continued: “AUD is providing a vital service not only to the UAE, but to the region and the world. The graduating class of 50 nationalities reflects the diverse and global world in which we are living. Those of you about to receive your degrees are our treasure. We expect great things of you”.

He went on advising the graduates to go forth serving their nation and society:


“You have been educated to serve yourself, your nation and your fellow man and woman. Be kind; always show more kindness than may seem necessary, the person receiving it probably needs it more than you know.”

Concluding his keynote speech, General Powell said:


“Although position and wealth are desirable and important, it is far more important to do something in life that you love doing and do well. True satisfaction comes from that quest. Never settle for less”.


At Commencement, the University honors one student in each program, whose exceptional scholarship is evidenced by the attainment of the highest cumulative grade point average (or GPA) in his or her class at graduation.

Provost Dr.Jihad Nader

Dr. Jihad Nader, Provost and Chief Academic Officer , went on to present with the Deans and Chairs of each department the 2009 Department Awards. He commented:


“Academic excellence is at the heart of AUD’s mission. By placing their names on the Dean’s List, each and every term, the University recognizes students who are academically outstanding, at every stage of their studies, right through to graduation”.


Deans & Chairs

2009 Departmental Awards
Master of Business Administration Class Award

Dr. Dwayne Banks, Dean of the School of Business Administration, delivered the Master of Business Administration Class Award to Christian Frintrop.

Dr. Banks also delivered the Bachelor of Business Administration Class Award to Abhilash Kokkath.

Bachelor of Business Administration Class Award
Engineering Award

Saeid Masoud Samadi, recipient of the award in the Bachelor of Science Class in the School of Engineering received the award from Dr. Alaa Ashmawy, Dean of the School of Engineering.

For the Bachelor of Information Technology Class, Dr. Khalid Khawaja, Chair of the Information Technology Department delivered the award to the winner Haiat Fattal.

IT Award
ID Award

For the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design class, Dr. Nabyl Chenaf, Chair of the Interior Design Department, handed the award to Iman Sharifi.

And, Mr. Roberto Lopardo, Chair of the Visual Communication Department, delivered the award for the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication to the winner, Talayeh Bijan Jenab.

VC Award

In addition, the University bestows the highest academic honor, on that one student whose attainment of academic excellence was superlative among the entire graduating class. That truly exceptional student is honored with the Valedictorian Award.


Valedictorian Abhilash Raj

Valedictorian Abhilash Kokkath Raj spoke on behalf of the Class of 2009, thanking His Highness Sheikh Mohammed for the confidence he has placed in the youth.


“We are humbled by your guidance, faith in education, and continuous support for AUD, that has brought us young men and women one step closer to our dreams”.

He concluded his speech amidst applause:


“We have been equipped with one of the most powerful degrees in the Middle East. Backed by the knowledge, resilience and determination nurtured in us by our years at AUD, we are now prepared to emerge out of its shelter, ready to brave the winds of reality that blow outside this university – our AUD”.


President Lance de Masi

Quoting a poem by Christopher Logue – a conversation between a father and infant birds about to experience a rite of passage, President Dr. Lance De Masi invited the graduates to come to the edge asking them to take risks and to believe in the education and the degree they have just received from AUD.


“The power to explore, to invent, and to transform remains yours to harness. Endeavor, enterprise, and expectation remain the pillars upon which to construct a life whose purpose is more the pursuit of greatness than the pursuit of happiness . . . in which it is more important to earn success than to be successful”.

Dr. de Masi bid farewell to the Class of 2009 by sharing this wisdom:


“Life’s greatest regrets come not from the things you do, but from those you never get around to doing. So, don’t let any pessimist persuade you to bury your head in the sand. Get moving. . .”


Commencement Exercises 2009 Speeches
Executive Vice President Mr. Elias Bou Saab Opening Remarks
General Colin L. Powell (Ret.) Keynote Speech
Valedictorian Abhilash Kokkath Raj Speech
President Dr. Lance de Masi Closing Remarks

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