Where can you ski, dine in the desert and view the world’s tallest building?
Dubai, of course.
For 28 students, all but four of them undergraduate business majors in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU), a ten-day study abroad program to Dubai proved to be a revelation.
“Dubai is as diverse as Miami,” said Luis Camacho, a senior majoring in International Business Honors and economics. “Eighty percent of the people come from elsewhere and seeing that diversity in the Middle East impressed me.”
Although the group had ample time to view the unique cityscape of this transformed fishing village—including skiing at an indoor snow slope in a mall—they also had the opportunity to interact with business people. The itinerary included a visit with the senior vice chairman of Aujan Industries, the largest privately-owned beverage company in the Gulf; presentations at the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) and the Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC); and lectures at the American University in Dubai.
“Experiences like this are transformative for students,” said Doreen Gooden, faculty leader of this study abroad program, which the FIU Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) coordinated. “Students are forced to look at themselves and gain a new balance in their lives through their exposure to different cultures.”
Students assess Dubai’s economy for themselves.
The worldwide press has amply covered the economic slowdown in what is one of the world’s fastest growing cities, but to Gooden, the crisis made the visit more interesting for the students, arming them with questions for the business people they encountered.
“At DIFC, we were told that the media is trying to portray a bad image of Dubai but that the country will refinance its debts, make its payments and be fine,” Camacho said. “However, we saw a lot of cranes, but not much construction and a lot of unoccupied buildings despite the presence of so many luxury hotels and malls.”
Liza Carbajo, director of FIU’s Office of Education Abroad, assisted on the trip, which also included class time.