I'm sitting in LAX waiting my final connection home from the International Seminar in Dubai. We had a fantastic trip! Below is a photo of the ladies on our trip during our visit to the Grand Mosque in AbuDhabi. When I get more photos from our official photographers (Marissa/TJ) I'll post some more group shots.
The trip took us on company visits to 10 different organizations including the Strategic Planning Department of the Government of Dubai, Unilever Arabia and Emirates National Oil Company. The 20 EWMBA students on the trip all got a first hand view of the effects of the global financial crisis on Dubai and the surrounding Middle East countries. The incredible development that has recently occurred in Dubai is amazing - contrasting the current skyline with the photos from 1990 which showed pretty much sand, was very stark.
The trip was made up of entirely 3rd year students, and before I left, I think I knew about a little over a quarter of the participants. It was a great opportunity to get to know others from the program in an in depth way. We immersed ourselves in the local culture in the evenings after our seminars. On Wednesday we went on a 'desert safari', including four wheel drives, camel rides and belly-dancing. We made good use of the cheap local taxi's to explore the city and its many sights, including the gold and spice souk's, the Jumeria beach area and its spectacular hotels and new 'islands', the Emirates Mall including the indoor ski slopes and the Dubai Mall with an aquarium, a Bellagio-esque fountain show and the Burj Khalifa - the tallest building in the world (for now!).
As well as learn about the local economy, culture and what it takes to do business in Dubai and the region, we also got to put some of the skills we learnt in other classes into practice. We used a lot of negotiation - in the markets, with taxi drivers and quickly found out who in the group we should send in for particular negotiating scenarios. We also used our Pricing skills, when setting our opening bids for items at the markets.
In the coming weeks we'll be putting together a report on our analysis of doing business in Dubai, and an element of this that has an impact on our own companies.
The international seminar was a fantastic experience to top-off my final semester (I can't believe it!) at Haas - I'd recommend taking one to anyone in the program.