AUB Mediterraneo: From Vision to Reality

Vol. XXII, No. 1, 2024

Nestled on the shores of Pafos, Cyprus, within the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage site that was designated a European Capital of Culture in 2017, stands the American University of Beirut – Mediterraneo (AUB Mediterraneo). Established by the American University of Beirut as its first twin campus outside Lebanon, AUB Mediterraneo marks a bold step forward in the university’s rich legacy of pioneering higher education in the Middle East and beyond.

The journey of AUB Mediterraneo began in 2019 when the vision of a second campus took root. With the unwavering support of the government of Cyprus, the city of Pafos, and a dedicated team at AUB, the vision steadily—and quickly—materialized. One of the administrators guiding AUB to the realization of this vision is the first rector of AUB Mediterraneo, Dr. Wassim El Hajj. A highly respected scholar and administrator with a long history at AUB, his passion for the university strengthens the two campuses’ relationship as AUB remains firmly rooted in Beirut even as it grows its footprint abroad.

The inauguration of AUB Mediterraneo on September 6, 2023, heralded a new era of educational opportunities and cultural exchange. In his inaugural address, AUB President Fadlo R. Khuri poignantly stated, “Today marks a significant milestone in AUB’s history. We are not simply opening a new campus; we are establishing a bridge between cultures, a catalyst for innovation, and a beacon of hope for generations to come.” Senior Vice President Imad B. Baalbaki, who has played a leading role in the achievement of this significant milestone, describes AUB Mediterraneo as “one of the most seminal projects in the history of this great university.”

AUB Mediterraneo’s establishment in Cyprus is a testament to the university’s unwavering commitment to academic excellence and its vision of fostering a global community of learners. Cyprus’ strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, coupled with its rich cultural heritage and strong economic growth, provides an ideal setting for AUB Mediterraneo to flourish. As Rector El Hajj says, “My vision for AUB Mediterraneo is that it will be a place that has strong ties to AUB in Beirut; a place that offers the unique and transformative AUB experience to bright students from around the world; a hub for cultural and academic exchange; and a place where new and impactful knowledge is produced.”

The first cohort of students represents 12 nationalities spanning five continents. While the main campus is being finalized, students are attending classes in a state-of-the-art facility in Pafos. They are also enjoying the camaraderie of living in dormitories which boast expansive public spaces and meticulous design, providing a tranquil living environment at the intersection of comfort and innovation.

Just as importantly, AUB Mediterraneo reflects the university’s commitment to maintaining an environmentally conscious university. An electric solar panel-powered bus is employed to transport students; the campus prioritizes using renewable energy sources; and students actively participate in eco-conscious initiatives such as beach cleanups.

AUB Mediterraneo’s academic offerings reflect the university’s deep commitment to interdisciplinary education, experiential learning, and a strong liberal arts foundation. The university, which is accredited in Europe and recognized in the US, currently offers undergraduate and graduate programs in various fields, including business, engineering, computer science, and the humanities. The university plans to expand its academic offerings in the coming years to meet the diverse needs of its student body.

The establishment of AUB Mediterraneo will have a profound impact on Pafos and the wider region as it injects new energy into the city’s cultural landscape, fostering collaborations with local institutions and organizations. AUB Mediterraneo’s location in Cyprus will also spur new innovation at AUB, providing Beirut-based faculty with access to EU funding.

“Attending AUB Mediterraneo has been an enriching experience thus far. The foreign yet welcoming atmosphere has provided me with a sense of comfort. The education has far exceeded my expectations in terms of professionalism and cooperation. As for the students, they have become like a second family to me, as we collectively build the foundation of the university and open up the doors for success and prosperity.” – Mahmoud Albatayneh (Jordan)

“My interest in AUB aligns with my love for Pafos, where I’ve lived for a few years. I was intrigued by AUB’s history, vision, and mission, especially its motto. The emphasis on leadership and innovation raised my interest as a business student.” – Ly Bui (Vietnam)

As AUB Mediterraneo embarks on its new journey, it carries with it the legacy of AUB’s 157 years of academic excellence and a deep commitment to shaping the leaders of tomorrow. The university’s vision for AUB Mediterraneo is to create a world-class institution that fosters innovation, promotes cross-cultural understanding, and contributes to the region’s sustainable development.

In the words of President Khuri, “AUB Mediterraneo is more than just a university; it is a symbol of hope, a testament to the power of education to transform lives, and a beacon of knowledge and progress in the heart of the Mediterranean.”