In a few short hours, 40 CBS students representing over a dozen countries, and our faculty advisor, Leonard Lee, will meet in Dubai to begin what is set to be an unforgettable nine-day journey in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
I will be honest and admit I am far from an expert in the region and my most prominent reason for coming was fueled by a curiosity in both the customs and the business practices of the Middle East. Steve Kroft from CBS 60 minutes has previously stated that, “Over the course of just a few decades, Dubai has transformed itself from a spit of sand about the size of Rhode Island into the Singapore of the Middle East… It is a political, economic, and financial success story in a region torn by conflict.” In recent times, the city has grown from a fisherman village to a world financial center with a large number of affluent expats. Dubai is known to have the highest foreign-born population rate in the world, which is evident through the diversity of its inhabitants as well as its cuisine. On the boardwalk it is common to see American fast food staples conveniently next to authentic French brasseries and Italian trattorias.
The region is constantly changing and adapting to growing expectations. The economic promise is significant and the 4.4% GDP growth in 2012 is indicative of the UAE’s ability to react to such expectations.
Some of us were lucky enough to arrive several days ago and have already had a glimpse of the grandeur of Dubai. We have dined on local seafood and experienced the awe of the fountain show in front of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Others have started to arrive since then from their previous destinations, including New Delhi, Paris, and Switzerland, to name a few. We might have come from all parts of the world, but all of us have come with the same sense of eagerness and anticipation for the well-planned itinerary.
We begin the trip with a Dhow Cruise and end with a desert safari, where we will be camel riding and feasting on local fare. During our stay, we will have exposure to a wide array of industries and gain a deep understanding of how business is done in Dubai. We will meet with representatives from Emirates Airlines, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, Dubai Properties Group, among other corporations. I am personally most excited about meeting her Excellency H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the Minister for Foreign Trade and the former Minister of Economic and Planning of the UAE. She is the first woman to hold a ministerial post in the region and I am curious to hear her perspective on how local customs and traditions are affected by the fast-paced commercial growth of the region. We will also have the chance to learn more about local customs and the reasons behind them from the General Manager of the Centre for Cultural Understanding.
As you can see, there is so much to learn, take in and experience. This trip will be quite an adventure, representative of the city itself, filled with endless possibilities.
– Nathalie Marcos ’14