The American Community School of Abu Dhabi (ACS) held a special ceremony on Monday, November 22, to break ground on its new state-of-the-art, six-hectare campus on Saadiyat Island. Scheduled to open in 2023, this innovative and sustainable new campus will advance education in the region with a more personalized, collaborative and innovative learning environment.

The ceremony coincides with the 50th anniversary celebrations of the UAE and marks almost half a century since the school was first established on land gifted by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the UAE. As the only nonprofit American school in the emirate, the generous support of the Abu Dhabi government continues to enable ACS to educate generations of leaders from the UAE and around the world.

Attending the groundbreaking were His Excellency Khaldoon Al Mubarak, ACS alumnus, Chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority and Chief Executive Officer of Mubadala; Her Excellency Sara Awad Issa Musallam, Chairperson of the Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK); Sean Murphy, Chargé d’Affaires of the United States Embassy Abu Dhabi; Matt Ayoub, ACS alumnus and Chair of the ACS Board of Trustees; Monique Flickinger, ACS Superintendent; Mariet Westermann, Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi, and Alan Davis, Chief Executive of Raytheon Emirates, long-standing strategic partners. Other attendees included Abu Dhabi and US government officials, strategic partners, ACS Board members, alumni and leaders of the school.

“ACS is still a big part of my life. I was in the first graduating class and now, almost 30 years later, my children attend ACS,” said His Excellency Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, ACS Alumnus. “As a family, we are proud to be part of the school’s long history of academic innovation and excellence.”

“ACS is a living example of the long-standing relationship between the US and the UAE. We are deeply grateful to the Abu Dhabi government and other key stakeholders that have enabled us to achieve this transformational moment," said Matt Ayoub, ACS alumnus and Chair of the Board of Trustees. "This new campus is central to our strategy and will ensure that ACS delivers excellence for generations to come.”

Designed by award-winning international architectural firm, Broadway-Malyan, the new campus will be located 400 meters from New York University of Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). ACS will double the size of its current site and grow to serve 1,600 students annually. The dynamic design of the campus is expected to achieve an Estidama Pearl 3 rating and will enable ACS to further integrate technology and sustainability into its curriculum.

Features include design-technology labs focused on robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual reality; a greenhouse in a fully-equipped science wing that will serve as a hands-on classroom for teaching about food security and energy conservation; a 650-seat professional theater; and an expansive indoor-outdoor art studio and gallery. The athletic complex includes two swimming pools, three full-sized indoor basketball courts, a FIFA-sized football pitch, a six-lane running track and a wellness center dedicated to social and emotional health.

“Our new facility provides the space for greater innovation, creativity and collaboration to prepare our students - the leaders of tomorrow - to thrive as global citizens in an increasingly complex and rapidly-changing world,” said Monique Flickinger, ACS Superintendent. “We are committed to sharing our educational learnings and vision with other schools and organizations to do our part in advancing the UAE as an international educational hub.”

The campus enables ACS to deliver expanded programs and new initiatives, including engineering, theater production, renewable energy, space entrepreneurship and an Arabic Institute of Excellence, which will pioneer new approaches to teaching and learning the Arabic language.

ACS recently received a generous private-sector donation from Raytheon Emirates Limited to help embed technology into its innovation programs. Alan Davis, chief executive of Raytheon Emirates, remarked, “We are so grateful to be a part of bringing new learning experiences to the ACS community. The new campus will be a magnet for innovation and a space to showcase excellence in science, technology and the arts. Together, we believe we can inspire thousands of students across the region to pursue careers in high demand sectors and advance the government’s strategic priorities for education and innovation.”

As work gets underway on the new campus, ACS is developing opportunities for strategic partners, alumni, families and others to participate in this historic moment and leave their mark.