When Dr. Nicolas Elian arrived in his hotel room in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on March 20, 2003 - the day after the United States entered Iraq - he found an urgent note directed to all Westerners visiting the Saudi capital:
"Leave the country and return home for your safety," warned the message, which had been taped to the inside of his hotel room door.
But Dr. Elian chose to remain. "The purpose of the trip," recalls Dr. Elian, a native of Lebanon who joined NYUCD's faculty in 1991 and who is an Assistant Professor of Periodontology and Implant Dentistry and Director of the Fellowship Program in Implant Dentistry, "was to forge closer ties between NYUCD and leaders of the Saudi dental community. The Middle East has the potential to become a major center for health care - not only for its own people, but also for neighboring countries in Africa and Asia - and NYUCD, with its focus on advanced education for international dentists, can contribute greatly to the development of oral health care in the region. I was determined to stick to my mission and deliver this message."
Dr. Elian, a graduate of NYUCD's DDS program, postgraduate
program in prosthodontics, and Fellowship Program in Implant Dentistry, has made numerous trips to the Middle East to meet with government health officials, dental school administrators, and prospective students to promote NYUCD's Advanced Programs for International Dentists, which offer students exposure to the latest technology and the chance to treat a uniquely diverse patient population.
Those close contacts have paid off. "Since we began reaching out to the region, we've attracted students from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. Today, about one in every 10 students in the Advanced Programs is from the Middle East, and NYUCD alumni who have returned to the region have attained a high degree of success as private practitioners, government health officials, and dental school faculty and administrators."