“Seeing the desert for me was like someone who had never seen the ocean,” said Jessica Aristizabal (IMBA ’07), program coordinator, international graduate programs, who helped plan the latest Master of International Business (MIB) trip, which took her and 51 others to Dubai from March 14-21, 2009.
Like all MIB trips, this one involved a mixture of company visits and sight-seeing opportunities. But the inaugural excursion to Dubai presented the organizers with some special challenges.
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“The trip prompted lots of interest because of the exotic destination,” said Paola Moreno (MBA ’03) associate director, international graduate programs. “That meant trying to accommodate as large a group as possible. We also spent a lot of time negotiating with the company that helped us plan the trip to get the best itinerary—good companies and good accommodations—at the best price.”
The group got an inside view of business in the region through meetings at construction management giant Parsons Brinkerhoff; real estate development company Nakheel, noted for its Palm Island and other reclamation projects; the Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Emirates Group, parent company of the Emirates Airline, Dubai’s national airline.
Six months of planning paid off.
Once the complex logistics fell into place, the trip went off smoothly. Aristizabal and Isabel Lopez (MIB ’06, BBA ’03), assistant director, Master of Science in Finance program, handled details on site, and got to enjoy the experience as well.
“We saw how the country runs,” Aristizabal said, and Lopez, who had attended MIB trips to Europe and China was “surprised to find the culture very open, having expected it to be closed.”
MIB student and an academic advisor in the college, Ira Turner (BBA ’05) was one of several students who would like to work in Dubai.
“I’d love to get a job there for a year or two,” said Turner who hopes for a career in government or with a multinational corporation. “I was blown away by the land reclamation and the creativity that made the land worth so much money. It was good to see another culture, and to open the horizon to new experiences.
Tomislav Mandakovic, associate dean, Chapman Graduate School, was also “struck by the magnitude of the unusual infrastructure construction being undertaken, and its contrast to the harsh environment.”
Of course, the real estate boom was appealing, but some of the traditions remain unbeatable.
“We were taken across the dunes, watched a sunset in the desert, were entertained by belly dancers, and got to ride on camels,” Turner said.