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Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Emerging Market Challenges and Opportunities

The UAE is the second largest economy in the Arab world. It is a federation of seven emirates. This IFS will focus on its two biggest and main emirates, Abu Dhabi, the capital, and Dubai. We will examine the growth of their economies over the past couple of decades as well as the challenges that each emirate faced and continue facing during this period of transition. The cultural, economic and political context of each emirate will be examined in the context of emerging markets. We will also study how the country is leveraging its image to drive business and tourism. Students will meet with corporate leaders in local industries such as construction, finance, hospitality, education and IT. We will also explore cultural landmarks in both cities.

UAE: Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Northeastern University’s D'Amore-McKim School of Business, in conjunction with Worldstrides, is pleased to offer the International Field Study, UAE: Emerging Market Challenges and Opportunities. This program will be conducted in and around Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This IFS trip is from May 11th to May 19th. 

The UAE represent the most unique culture in the Middle East. The UAE's population is around 9.2 million, of which 1.4 million are Emirati citizens and 7.8 million are expatriates. This unique and interesting blend of local citizens and expatriates is one of the many reasons why the UAE has become of the most recognizable and visited countries, not only in the Middle East, but around the world as well.

Moreover, since its independence in 1971, UAE's economy has grown by nearly 231 times, and it has made major strides in diversifying its economy, to not only depend on oil and gas, but also, industries, education and tourism. The UAE's economy is one of the most open worldwide, and its economic history goes back to the times when ships sailed to India, along the Swahili coast, as far south as Mozambique.

However, this economic growth has not always been without setbacks. Dubai suffered from a significant economic crisis in 2007-2010 and was bailed out by Abu Dhabi's oil wealth. Dubai is currently in extreme debt. The UAE government has worked towards reducing the economy's dependence on oil exports by the year 2030. Various projects are underway to help achieve this, the most recent being the Khalifa Port, opened in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi at the end of 2012. The UAE has also won the right to host the World Expo 2020, which is believed to have a positive effect on future growth.

Areas of Interest

Because of its unique location, culture, religion, openness, and blend of people from all over the world, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have emerged as Oases in the Arab world, and an example of how you can create a safe, sophisticated and welcoming environment to everyone. We will be visiting the most famous landmarks, such as the Spice and Gold souks (markets), the Dubai museum, the Sheikh Mohammad Center for cultural understanding, the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, and other internationally recognizable landmarks.

Course Description

Students will be exposed to an array of cultural and business differences in the region with unique emphasis on challenges and opportunities related to emerging economies. While in UAE, students will attend lectures by business executives, leading academics and government officials. Students will also interact with their counterparts from a top university in the region. The overall objective of the course is to learn about the challenges and advantages of operating a business in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Format of Instruction

The class will meet monthly prior to trip departure. Students will read case studies and popular press articles about our destination and the current economic, cultural, and political environment of the Middle East. Students will write-up a case analysis and student teams will present their recommendations for export feasibility projects to colleagues in either cities.


Professor Nizar Zaarour, Assistant Teaching Professor of Supply Chain Management, D’Amore-McKim School of Business

Accommodations, Transportation & Meals

Participants will be housed in double rooms in high-quality tourist hotels during the program. Accommodations for spouses or friends are not available. Breakfasts, some lunches, and some dinners are included. Students are usually responsible for other meals. Students are responsible for securing passports and visa. Inter-country transportation is included.