This Easter break as part of the International Study Tour (MSc Management) elective that I have chosen, I visited the UAE, specifically Dubai for a week in order to understand the UAE economies, societies, and to give me an insight as to how business is done in the country.
On the very first day we were brought up to the observatory deck of the Burj Khalifa, which is the world’s tallest building standing at 829.9m. The Burj Khalifa was built to garner international recognition and to put Dubai on the map.
My classmates and I were then taken to a restaurant in the ‘older’ parts of Dubai for a traditional Arabic dinner that included hummus, tabouleh and lamb koftas amongst other delicious dishes.
We had a cultural lunch that was followed by a presentation at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where we learned about Dubai’s expansion plans for the future and their interest in attracting foreign investments.
On Tuesday we had an early meeting at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management by the Jumeirah Group, who developed the famous Burj Al Arab.
After that, we were treated to a lovely presentation and boat tour of the Palm by Nakheel, the developer of the Palm Jumeirah.
In the afternoon we visited the Dubai Expo 2020 ground. It was interesting to hear about Dubai’s exciting journey in preparation towards their Expo, which is the first to be held in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region. The expo site covered 4.38sq km and their Dubai Metro Route 2020 is projected to take 46,000 passengers per hour to and from the expo site in under 16 minutes from the Dubai Marina.
There were trips to the Dubai Design District/ Media City on Wednesday which was followed by a short trip to the Souk Madinat Jumeirah. My classmates and I then returned to the hotel for guest presentations by Arthur D. Little, the CEO of InternsME, and COO of mrUsta Solutions.
The highlight of the study tour for me was the visit to Sheikh Zayed’s Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of UAE on Thursday. It is the largest mosque in the country and is large enough to accommodate over 40,000 people. The carpet in the prayer hall measures a grand total of 60570 sq feet and was made by approximately 1300 carpet knotters.
On Friday my friends and I decided to try out the famous Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates. It is an indoor ski area which consists of the world’s first indoor black diamond run, chair lifts, toboggan run and zorb balls amongst many other exciting activities under its snowy dome!
We had our final dinner as a group at the Abd El Wahab Restaurant in Souk Al bahar that gave us a magnificent view of the Dubai Fountain in action, the world’s largest choreographed fountain system, designed after the classic Bellagio Hotel fountains in Las Vegas.
Overall, I would say that the International Study Tour certainly showed me a whole new perspective about Dubai, a city that was built from an small pearl diving town that is now gunning to be a full-fledged international metropolis. Despite the gloss, I caught glimpses of the many foreign workers who helped build the city and its towering skyscrapers in the desert heat, and heard accounts of the tough working conditions that these labourers are subject to such as long working hours. A majority of us think of Dubai as a glamorous bastion of modernity in the Middle East and this is true, but it is also testament to the great marketing and branding work undertaken by them, but we must bear in mind that there is more than what meets the eye; everything that we see is a perspective, not the whole truth.