After 10 company talks, 4 major sightseeing activities, and numerous unforgettable deep talks with fellow classmates on this fascinating country that hosted us for 10 days, we got an unique look into a very complex country. This is what I have gathered so far: I thought UAE is a dichotomy of century old religion and practicalities of capitalism. In short, UAE felt like a religious Vegas and the oxymoronic title that’s associated.
The country tries very hard to hang on to its identity drawn from its relative recent desert heritage but look around, past the myriad of skyscrapers and one will see a transformed country. One will see Islamic law rooted into how business is done (ie. Out right debt is not allowed so there needs to be some creative financial engineering to take on leverage) yet one also sees multinational corporations from the likes of Google and bulge bracket banks choosing Dubai as their gulf region home base. It’s astounding to see what the country is now; it seems to have risen from the sand, literally.
One part I loved about this trip was the access we got to companies and key individuals who are close to the pulse of the country. Through them and our very own talks amongst the class, we got to develop a more in-depth, inner working viewpoint. I also thoroughly enjoyed our talk about whether there is a bubble or in fact, UAE has done it right and is a real oasis in the desert. What will be interesting to see for the future is how the next generation of rulers in the UAE will continue the current trajectory and how the introductory of a tax system will affect what citizens expect from their government. All in all, this trip was extremely insightful and we got a wonderful chance to not just learn about the UAE but really get to experience the ins and outs of an ever thrilling country.
Corey Lian ’16