Business Students Observe Renewed Optimism on U.A.E. Trip

Graduate student Roberta Sylvester noticed something during a class trip to the United Arab Emirates this summer that she hadn’t seen or read about in a while – a positive economic outlook.

“The health care sector (in Dubai) is up and coming,” said Sylvester, an M.B.A. student in Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Rinker School of Business who also works as a nurse. “It’s the Arabian version of the American dream. It just feels like anything is possible.”

Sylvester is one of 25 graduate and undergraduate business students and two faculty members who recently embarked on a 10-day academic trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the capital of the U.A.E. It was the second trip to the U.A.E. that the Rinker School has undertaken and the seventh international business trip overall.

Last year students visited China, and in previous years they have gone to the Czech Republic, Egypt and Vienna.

This year’s trip included business visits to the U.S. Embassy in Dubai as well as G.E. Healthcare; petroleum company ADGAS; Nakheel, the developer of the Palm Islands; the hospitality management company Jumeirah Group, whose properties include luxury hotels and resorts worldwide; the Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza); Emirates Airlines; and Ferrari World.

Charles Carter, who is also in the M.B.A. program, hopes to pursue a career in supply chain management and was particularly impressed by the group’s visit to the Jebel Ali Free Zone, home to one of the largest seaports in the world.

Both Carter and Sylvester said they are now considering moving to the U.A.E. to work. “It was life-changing for me,” Carter said. “The region has a great deal of potential.”

Associate Professor of Business Dr. Ann Langlois said she noticed more activity and construction this time compared to two years ago, when the country once known for its extreme wealth was still reeling from the global economic downturn. “It was just night and day,” Dr. Langlois said.

Other sites the group visited included the Sheik Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding and the Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the eighth largest mosque in the world.

Despite the predominance of Islam, “they do respect other religions,” said M.B.A. student Veronica Mitchell. “I thought that was interesting.”

Jeni Chavez, a senior who is double majoring in international business and finance, wrote in her post-trip report that she had read in books about the cultural diversity in Dubai but was interested in seeing it firsthand.

“After visiting Dubai, I feel like I have a better understanding of the cultural mix in Dubai and it still surprises me how well all these different cultures can coexist in peace,” Chavez wrote.

Possible destinations for next year’s international business trip include Beijing and Shanghai in China or Istanbul, Turkey. Interested students may contact Dr. Langlois at or Palm Beach Atlantic’s Center for Experiential Learning at

Category Tag(s): 07/2012 General News