Student Blog | Study Abroad in Dubai, UAE - Part 3
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My Dubai Diary: Dubai Financial Market

Jun 10, 2015   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

We started off the second week of the business school by heading off to Dubai Financial Market. Personally, I was extremely excited as I have a deep interest for finance. We were kindly introduced to Dubai Financial Market; learnt more about the stock market in Dubai, the boom and bust of the economic cycle in 2008 and how that had a direct effect on the stock market. I enjoyed the Q&A session as we learnt about Dubai financial market’s diversity fixation strategies and the movement focusing away from construction into retail. We then had a tour around DFM and were introduced to the tools and trading platforms.

In the afternoon we headed off to Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, which is a university fully dependent on technology and clouds for teaching. Classes are conducted in interactive sessions online and most tests are also sat online. This gives one the ease to learn wherever they may be in the world. After touring the university, which was extremely new and bright, we learnt about Islamic business and Islamic law.

We learnt the importance of religion in both business and law and how these “guides” have been developed from the holy Quran. For example contracts that both business and law heavily depend on was in fact mentioned in the Quran and developed through out time.
We saw that Dubai has a pool of cultural intelligence in maintaining Islamic business and laws but also being open to forge in business and trade in order to grow the city. This has been achieved by various free zones.

I was absolutely fascinated how Islamic ethics is the root to shaping business and law and has been a huge contributing factor to the development and growth of Dubai.

I would love to learn more about Islamic business and ethics, as I strongly believe in order to succeeded in Dubai; one must understand the roots of the foundations.

My Dubai Diary: Wednesday 3 July 2015

Jun 10, 2015   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

Early morning we learnt about the hotel industry in Dubai. As Expo 2020 is fast approaching, the government have huge plans in building more rooms and catering for more tourists. They aim to have more than 120,00 hotel rooms by Expo 2020. This puts a heavy pressure in making sure that the hotel industry stands out from other destinations and truly provides the very best services.

We learnt all about hotel benchmarking and how the Jumeirah group use benchmarking as a tool to see what competitors are doing different and how they can implement new strategies to gain competitive advantages. We looked at internal benchmarking, within the hotel group and external benchmarking, which is within the whole industry. Internal benchmarking included looking at minibars and seeing which different snacks and alcohols are offered and how new goods hotels can implement. External benchmarking looks at different services within the industry. It’s an extremely different and interesting tool used to study new methods that bring about competitive advantages.

In the afternoon, we had an Arabic language class where we learnt basic communication skills in Arabic including “my name”, “how are you”, ” I’m good thanks”. This lesson was extremely useful especially in the rest of the stay!

My Dubai Diary: Tuesday 2 July 2015

Jun 4, 2015   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

IMG_0628On the third day we went to Dubai Women’s College where we started the day with an intercultural intelligence lecture. This lecture was extremely interactive and was taught in an energetic and fun manner. Cultural is heavily important in Dubai and how business is done is heavily influenced by the Arabic culture. We learnt that culture is a based on ones perspective and their outtake of the world. Different people have different perspectives hence different social programming. Comparing one to a brand new iPhone, we see that humans have the same physical structure but what makes us different is the way we think and view others. This is beautifully put as being seen to have different apps on one’s phone. Each person prefers different apps due to their different perspectives and personality. The way one is socially programmed effects the way they interact with others and their approach to business. So for example in the UAE, there is a collective team work spirit whereas somewhere like Britain, individuals have a strong sense of individualism and independence.

Also in the UAE, people tend to give up their power easily to governmental bodies due to their strong trust bond. This is measured by “power distance”. The UAE has a high power distance whereas in Britain, they have a low power distance and are less likely to give their individual power to authority.

Ending the lecture by realising the world is moving towards a more open cultural system and a more open movement, we started to realise that there is much more weight attached to culture in doing business.

After lunch with the professor, we attended an “Entrepreneurship in Dubai” course where we discusses the future of entrepreneurship, closely looking at how the government balances out the freedom of doing business in the city and encouraging investments correctly. Yet again we saw a strong focus on long-term plans. We discussed the advantages and disadvantages in setting a business in Dubai and how the government heavily invests in business freedom.

It was an interesting day and I especially enjoyed the intercultural intelligence lectures since Dubai is an evolving hub for diversity.

My Dubai Diary: Monday 1 June 2015

Jun 4, 2015   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 09.54.22We started off the day on a tour around Dubai Port, one of the largest man made ports in the world. The port is growing to be the most efficient and a central hub for logistics. Seeing the large and overwhelming port, filled with infrastructure, ships and labour; made us realise the hard work and dedication that occurs behind scenes in delivering most of the goods we see in our daily lives.

What captured my attention is the fact that the government implemented a plan for Dubai Port in 1970, and till this day the plans for expansion and improvements continue. Taking advantage of economies of scale, Dubai Port is becoming more and more dynamic but efficient, offering the very best service around the world. Achieving over 200% growth, we learnt that the success of this port stems from clear strategies and communication.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 09.54.11Next we went to Dubai World Central where we learnt more about the EXPO 2020 and the government plans in taking the city forward. We had a talk from one of the professionals at the firm and he spoke us through the government plans from now till 2050! I felt extremely privileged to be able to have primary data of government plans. It’s exciting to hear about these plans now and watch them be put into action over the years. Therefore, CBL international exceeded my expectations!

In the evening we went to the desert on a Safari trip. We ate delicious Arabic food, went on camel rides and enjoyed the Arabic culture as we watched belly dancers under the stars. The trip was the perfect ending to the day as we got to relax and get first hand experience of the Arab culture whilst eating delicious food.

My Dubai Diary: Sunday 31 May 2015

Jun 1, 2015   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 17.38.15Starting off the day by discussing influential figures in the Middle East, language and religion we soon started to discover the foundation of the Middle Eastern culture. As a group we discussed the Arab offspring, Western portrayal of the Middle East and typical stereotypes, highlighting the importance of culture and how it shapes this flourishing region. Comparing other countries to the UAE, we saw that fine governance and open communication is now shaping the ever-evolving city. Dubai is a great case study of economic development and is influential in changing the perspective of the Middle East. Learning about the seven Emirates, we saw that the network within these Emirates have been a key in developing the region. With each Emirate having its own governance, we see that Abu Dhabi is a heavy investor in the surrounding Emirates.

What stood out to me is the fact that Dubai’s success is based on branding. It is commercially driven. This is extremely fascinating as Dubai develops a western system but continues to hold onto true Arab cultural roots. It combines the rich history of the Middle East whilst evolving in modernisation.
What’s interesting in development is the region’s geopolitics including leadership methods, economics aspects including oil and tourism and lastly geographic networks.

Whilst studying different Arab leaders and their different leadership skills, we started to see how crucial leadership styles really are in shaping the Middle East; either bringing success or chaos. This part of the class was interesting since most had different views and debated how one would classify a leader as “successful”, comparing different leadership styles to the West.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 17.39.43To end the day we visited the most exclusive hotel Burj Al Arab. Walking around the beautiful hotel, we were inspired by the hard work and dedication that was invested in the infrastructure and maintenance, representing Arab spirit. Highlight of the day definitely included walking around the underwater restaurant in the Burj Al Arab and viewing the most beautiful scenes from the very top of the Burj.

On this day, we learnt that the Arab spirit and culture inspires hard work and dedication. With the right government body having strategic plans for the long term and working hand-in-hand with the people, anything can be achieved.

My Dubai Diary: Monday 5 January 2015

Jan 6, 2015   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

Dubai blog69:30AM was the start of my final day in Dubai on a CBL International programme. Much of my morning was spent trying to repackage my suitcase. I bought several gifts forgetting the size of my suitcase. Where there’s a will there’s a way – I got everything packed before our trip to the FedEx hub.

FedEx is a major contributor to the transportation of goods in Dubai. It is the hub for goods coming from the west to the east (and vice versa) and specific regions include Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. We were given the opportunity to tour the facility. During the tour it was asserted that time is a very valuable thing at FedEx. So much so that they speak of time in only hours and not days. We also explored the inside of a plane Asia as it was being loaded. We even stopped to take photographs in the cockpit! They provided a variety of pizzas for lunch. Even though there are several hubs in he US, I have never toured one. It was cool to see the logistical side of business in Dubai.

Our final trip was to Nakheel and the Palm Jumeirah. Nakheel has twenty different property locations in Dubai. I had definitely heard about the construction in the US. I believe there are a couple of actors that have purchased property there. The villas were beautiful! It reminded me of Miami, Florida. They are currently constructing another set of islands that are in the shape of the countries. From far above, it will resemble the world map.

The farewell dinner was bittersweet. I cannot believe the end of the programme has already arrived. It feels like I landed just yesterday. I am so proud of myself for completing one of my goals. I have gained so much from this experience. A few of the delegates, myself included, have made plans to keep in touch. We are already making plans to travel to other countries. This programme was perfect for me in duration, site visits, and culture. I would like to thank CBL International for he opportunity to learn more about business in the Middle East.

– Ebony Aiken

My Dubai Diary: Sunday 4 January 2015

Jan 5, 2015   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

“Setting aside our differences for a common goal to overcome some of the challenges facing our planet” – Not only in sustainability, but also in business. This was the quote of the day, and it started our Intercultural Intelligence session. Our lecturer focused on the layers of culture. He talked about these layers looking different even for individuals from the same country. We did about three different exercises that challenged perception, attitudes, and norms.It was a wonderful session to have at the end of the programme. I reflected on previous situations and conversations. It was so easy to apply the lesson to my experience on a CBL International programme.

In hindsight, I am much more aware of the cause of cultural friction experienced between some of the delegates. I wish this class was offered at my university. It is important to understand who you are, and how you can effectively communicate with others. The world is so globally interconnected that a class like this should be mandatory. In our next session, the delegates were separated by business and law. I am a part of the business programme, so my next session was on Entrepreneurship. The lecturer focused on giving us universal tools. First, we needed to understand that entrepreneurship is the act of turning anything into a commercial product or service. Next, the lecturer stressed understanding the basic principles needed to establish yourself in a country. Then, the class explored the three C’s of mental toughness. Finally, the lecturer explained major financial and legislative rules related to doing business in Dubai. There were two individuals in the class that own/have owned businesses that operate in Dubai. It was wonderful to have their feedback, and hear about what they’ve learned first hand. I definitely walked away from the class feeling inspired.

I truly enjoyed my sessions and lecturers. It was a refreshing expansion to my idea of communicating and doing business globally.

– Ebony Aiken

My Dubai Diary: Saturday 3 January 2015

Jan 4, 2015   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

dubai blog5
After enjoying two days of rest, I was excited to take a day trip to Abu Dhabi. It is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Our first stop was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The women wore traditional clothing. Hair and all body parts were to be covered (except the face). The men wore their usual clothing. The mosque is completely covered in white marble. It has rows of columns on each side of the courtyard. The tops of the columns are gold, and designed to resemble Palm trees. Our guide made the interesting point that Sheikh Zayed dreamed of a place where people of all nations could worship together. He is buried beside the mosque, and thus it is said that he is buried beside his dream. Around noon, we ate lunch in the mall and visited Heritage Village for a bit. Delegates did more shopping and watched drones paint the sky in the colours of the UAE flag. Next, we visited the Emirates Palace Hotel. It is located on the East Wing of the Emirates Palace. This is home to Sheik Khalifa. In the hotel, we enjoyed a lovely set for tea. There were savories, scones, and pastries. Afterwards we toured the hotel. It was the epitome of lavishness.

During the CBL International programme I have visited three emirates, and they each have distinct characteristics. I can’t say that I have a favourite. However, I think the emirates should be added to any travel list as a “must-see”.

My Dubai Diary: Wednesday 31 December 2014

Jan 1, 2015   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

dubai blog4The day was set for a tight schedule to the United Arab Emirates University in the morning, a trip to Palm Jumeirah in the afternoon, and a final visit to the desert in the evening. The bus ride to the UAEU was about an hour long. It was interesting to go outside of Dubai on the main highway. There was desert terrain and camel farms in our peripherals. However, when we arrived to the city it reminded me of a suburban town. The university’s campus is very modern and most of the buildings are fairly new. It is the oldest university in the UAE, being established in 1976. The free tuition, housing, and no fees were a complete shock to me. It is a stark contrast from the structure of the universities in the US. However, the ratio of 70% female to 30% male is much more similar to the demographics of universities in the US.

We were not able to visit the Palm of Jumeriah because we took much more time at the university. Our director rescheduled the visit for another day. It actually worked out perfectly for our trip to the dessert. We had extra time for the caravan ride there. We got to spend more time riding four wheelers in the sand dunes. Our caravan continued through the desert in order to reach our camp sight. Our driver was amazing, and took advantage of the hills in the desert terrain. It was definitely a bumpy ride, but it was so much fun! The coolest part was looking back as the sun set over the desert, and seeing the trail that was left from the jeeps. I really can’t believe I did that. When we got to our camp sight we enjoyed a traditional Arabic style buffet, a belly dance performance, and access to free henna paintings and costumes for pictures. Most of us knew that we were headed to Burj Khalifa in the evening for the firework show. How we were going to get there was the question. Thankfully, our driver dropped us directly in the center of the city. I’ll never forget bringing in the New Year in the heart of Dubai.

My Dubai Diary: Tuesday 30 December

Dec 31, 2014   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

dubai blog3
Another day begins, and we are off to DP World for a tour of the Aviation Industry. It is located in one of Dubai’s free trade zones. It is also home to the Jebel Ali Port. This port is so large that it is ranked third among all international ports. There huge cranes are used to load and unload ships. The terminals were designed for improved travel efficiency. The coolest thing about our bus tour was being escorted by the security vehicles. There are check points everywhere, and we got special privilege to pass through without any hassle. We were told that there are about 4,000 cameras for increased security. There is great effort in protecting the assets of the companies that use the port.

Next, we visited Dubai World Central, which was strategically placed directly across from Jebel Ali Port. We were invited to a presentation and bus tour that highlighted major strategic plans for this particular free trade zone in relation to trade. We also visited Emirate NBD for a presentation on banking in the Middle East. The speaker compared growth rates of countries in areas of service and technological expansion. He emphasised that banks must prepare for the technological convenience wave, and what effect that will have on physical branch locations and profits. He also noted that increased efforts in compliance have made an addition to the structure of most companies (ie. creating a chief compliance officer). Dubai actually has room to grow in these areas where most countries are having to cut back. Our final visit of the day was a tour in the Pearl Museum. We watched a documentary on the history and evolution of pearl diving in the Middle East. The tour showcased artifacts that brought the documentary to life. At the end of the tour, we were able to view a unique collection of pearls given to Emirate NBD by Sultan Al Owais.

In the evening, a dozen of the delegates, including myself, took a boat ride down the creek to “Old Dubai”. First, we settled on the roof top of a restaurant, and had dinner overlooking the creek. I have appreciated the natural juices and herbs used in meals. It has been a nice change from the fast food restaurants in the US. Later, we bargained through souks (markets) and shared conversations with people from several different countries. I can honestly say I have never witnessed anything like the souks in Dubai. They are so vibrant and lively. It is commerce at its finest.

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