The United Arab Emirates (UAE) currently pursues an Education Hub strategy that aims at increasing higher education and research capacities and aligning these with its economic priorities for achieving advantages in the global economy. This strategy presently leaves the UAE in a position of playing “catch- up” and fosters higher education as a business, making it less accessible to the public and social mobility harder. The foundation of this current strategy is a strong focus on the geographic and physical elements of creating a Hub, which narrows its scope and impact. To exploit the already created capacities and decisions made, the current strategy’s focus and impact should be broadened by creating an accessible cultural space for education and research. This might, over time, lead to the formation of a reputed location for higher education and research by virtue of academic vigor that, importantly, also embodies the UAE’s uniqueness and needs.