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Students find Byron is cool

STOKED: Some of the teenage boys from Abu Dhabi who are visiting Byron Shire.
STOKED: Some of the teenage boys from Abu Dhabi who are visiting Byron Shire. Kate Oneill

THE Byron Shire's laid-back vibe is a long way from the bustling metropolis of Abu Dhabi, but our local culture suits 16-year-old student Khalid Waleed just fine.

"I can live with this," said Khalid, who has been busy taking surfing lessons, playing didge, meeting wildlife and listening to music in between his lessons at the Byron Bay English Language School.

Khalid is one of 35 teenagers from the United Arab Emirates who are spending a month in the Byron area to learn English and immerse themselves in Australian culture.

They've have been sent by the Abu Dhabi Education Council, which decided Byron Bay was a perfect place for its students to have an authentic Australian experience.

Some will visit cities like Melbourne and Sydney during their stay, but are based in Byron where they are billeted with local families.

Khalid said the weather was different to back home - it's about 30 degrees cooler than he's used to at this time of year, and we can have more rain here in a day than they do in a year in Abu Dhabi - but he says he loves the Byron environment.

"My country is very polluted. This is beautiful, it's so natural," he said.

Khalid said he counted his time in the surf as one of the highlights of his time in Byron.

"It was wonderful and I won't forget that moment. It was the most beautiful thing."

- Kate O'Neill


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