In 1985, H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, then UAE Minister of Higher Education and Chancellor of the United Arab Emirates University, made a commitment to establish a new system of tertiary education for UAE nationals that would stress the ideals of productivity, self-determination and excellence. His Excellency envisioned a system of the highest quality that would be used to educate nationals for the professional and technical careers necessary in a rapidly developing society.

The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) was established in 1988 by Federal Law No 2 issued by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founder of the Nation, may his soul rest in peace.