From factory tours to dinner in the desert, students enjoy study abroad in Dubai.

Since the discovery of oil in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the early 1960’s, the country has been transformed from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living.

Enabling students from Florida International University (FIU) to learn about the exciting business environment of Dubai, one of the UAE’s principal cities, was the objective of a study abroad program organized by faculty director Doreen J. Gooden and supported by FIU’s Center for International Business Education and Research (FIU CIBER). Twenty undergraduate students from FIU’s College of Business Administration took the 10-day trip to Dubai in December 2011, accompanied by Gooden and Louis Melbourne, who both teach management and international business classes.

Students at American University in Dubai
Students at American University in Dubai

“What a fantastic experience!” said Amber Rolle, a senior majoring in international business. “I have never traveled to that side of the world. Being with an FIU group meant I had opportunities I could never have had on my own.”

While in the Mid-east, the participants visited business and industry locations, such as the Dubai International Financial Center. At Exceed Industries, students toured two manufacturing factories; a presentation at real estate developer Nakheel included a monorail tour to view current developments.

Participants got to ride on camels in the desert.
Participants got to ride on camels in the desert.

Rolle was particularly interested in comparing business practices at an American-based company, General Motors, and at a Mid-east company, Emirates Group, a prominent airline and travel company.

“Visiting both companies and hearing their marketing strategies from top executives made classroom learning come alive,” Rolle said.

Enriching cultural excursions increase trip’s value.  

The students enjoyed Mid-east food and shopping, toured the city of Abu Dhabi, visited a mosque and even traveled over the dunes for a desert dinner relaxing on low cushions in Bedouin tents.

Group at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
Group at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

“In addition to valuable experience gained at the business visits, the students were also very impressed with the cultural knowledge gleaned at the visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding,” Gooden said.

“We learned about Muslims and had our questions answered on everything from dress to history,” Rolle said. “We heard about the cultural heritage and other aspects of that important region of the world.”



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