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My Dubai Diary: 3 January 2016

Jan 11, 2016   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

Raining since early in the morning and it continues, as the group bus hits the roadway to Dubai’s neighbouring Emirate, Abu Dhabi. Just like in the first day in Dubai, weather like this is rare.

Our destination in Abu Dhabi is Masdar. It is an innovative city that is being built, by continuously applying new technologies and adopting practices of the world to make the living more self-sustainable. We enter the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology by personal rapid transport (PRT), an automated system that operates on the ground level, while above it – we find the institute buildings and city streets with wind towers and even water-drainage system that is apparently put to use today. We have a tour through the streets, then we see the library and wander around a little while. The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology is offering graduate-level studies related to environment and alternative energy, as well as provides its students good living conditions, scholarships and, of course, research facilities.

Next is Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Before entering, ladies have to cover their hair and everyone has to be appropriately dressed. A sign near the entrance says that one should not be loud, take photos, bring food, smoke, use a phone or even fall asleep there, though later we are encouraged to take as many pictures as we want to and all the visitors do… We try to gather as a group for a while but in the end, only some follow the guide and we end up searching for one another afterwards. In the Mosque, there is the largest handmade carpet, there is marble and crystals from all over the world, a giant chandelier that weighs approx.. 12 tons. Again, it’s one of the largest in the whole world.

Our last visit is Emirates Palace. There, we first see a presentation about Kempinski and it’s origins, about Emirates Palace itself and that on the eighth floor there are six Rulers’ Suites that are not a part of the hotel and, as the building is structured, it’s possible to go straight to the rooms from a special entrance, without the need to interact with the regular guests. We are offered soft drinks and appetizers, consisting of fruits, caviar buns etc. After a chance to tour the hotel, we are meeting with the General Manager.  Emirates Palace has only luxurious rooms, catergories including Coral, Pearl and Diamond – depending on the size and view of the suite and, as it has a large ballroom, 114 domes and each floor, from one end to the other is said to be 1km to go… No wonder it has been marketed as having 7 stars. Kempinski, as we are told, is not a chain in it’s vision : it’s a collection of individuals.

We leave the place only at noon. In Abu Dhabi, the streets are well-lighted, with palm trees and colourful flowers on sides, as well as the mosques here are shining green. For a moment, we come across three full buses with workers, apparently picked up after a long working day…

Days are flying fast and tomorrow we’ll have our last visits – to the DIFC. It’s a pleasure to have seen and learned so much already.

Audentis iuvat fortuna

Anna Elsa

My Dubai Diary: 2 January 2016

Jan 11, 2016   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

The first and most important place of visit today is the Higher Colleges of Technology Dubai – Women’s Campus. It is a wonderful day, a nice place and we are about to learn more about intercultural intelligence. Our lecturer is very witty and the main topics are covering the perspectives of how culture can be approached and how the society is becoming more intercultural (not to be mixed with multicultural, though, that’s a connected topic) and in most of the cases the seen part of it can be seen as an iceberg, leaving layers and layers of the origins of the expressed attidude, norms, values and beliefs “underwater”. There are many metaphors we can contemplate and we take a look at some optical illusions and documentaries, as well as this we are introduced to various initiavies and prjects in the field and are offered various resources (both literature and multimedia) for further research.

Thereafter, we have a presentation on Islam as a brand, given by Hani Soubra, an acknowledged author. It is very intriguing and, one might say, thought-provoking, as we are put in front of facts and then look at them through the eyes of the audience of mass media. There is a lot to be learned about the characteristics of brands and communication regarding the message that reaches the global newsroom and how there are the tags that go in history, putting the emphasis on what the audience is more likely to accept as the one truth, and what is the factual basis, on which the actual storyline is made.

The last lecture, while we’re still on the site, is different for the law students and business students. Concentrating on law, we have a good overview on the court structures in the UAE, as well as get to do self-tests afterwards. It is worth the while and effort to see how, historically, the legislation has evolved differently in each of the Emirates, as well as to see the common things in the structures of the court systems. In Dubai, there are six specialised “Courts of First Instance”: Civil Court, Commercial Court, Personal Status Court, Property Court, Labour Court and Criminal Court. For we discuss the legal sides of doing business in the UAE, it’s important that we are not missing – there is, still, a lot to be done. As we are finishing, the day slowly comes to an end and it’s been a productive one for all of us.

The coming day, according to our schedule, we’ll be going to Abu Dhabi and that’s the third Emirate we are visiting during these days. I can’t wait to see the Masdar city innovations and, of course, there is more to come! ^_^


Anna Elsa

My Dubai Diary: 1 January 2016

Jan 11, 2016   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

Day 7

 A new day, a new year, a new life it may be and…. the weekend begins 😀

Today, it’s a free-plan for everyone, there’s the Dubai Shopping Festival starting today, and we can go on a Big Bus Tour as well, if we feel like it… Some alternatives for the 1st of January might’ve been spending the day by the pool at EAHM, visiting the beach or whatever is the calling. For the ones choosing the Big Bus, a disappointment it is, when we find out that our tickets are expired and there are only some free tours that we could possibly choose to make…sometimes, buying in advance is really not the best option, if there’s a 24 hour time-limit of validity. It’s still a free day and the big malls were a part of the plan anyway, so that’s where we go. First, the Mall of The Emirates, where it’s certainly not as hot as outside and then – the Dubai Mall, where we get by metro. It’s clearly one of the places where people disappear during the day and, indeed, as the weekend here has just begun, it’s really no wonder. Besides, it’s just the same stop for the Burj Khalifa, which we get to see as well. Spending a day shopping – it’s easy to loose the count of time (and money – as there are even half-cups with the “I spent all of my money in Dubai and had only left enough for half a cup” :P).

5I won’t go on, describing all of the shops in the malls but it’s worth mentioning that in the Dubai Mall – the largest shopping mall in the world, there’s also a nice big aquarium where one can take a dive, there’s a ice rink for skating, a cinema…some say it’d take weeks to really explore the mall but I think it depends much on what interests one has. The tallest building and the largest mall in the same place – it’s a rare combination. After wandering around and literally shoppin’ ‘till we’re droppin’, it’s already dark when we get back.

Still, getting back to the EAHM and the Business & Law school programme, it’s not to be forgotten that there are lectures continuing tomorrow, as well as essays to be written by those who want to get marks and credit points. It’s useful but not mandatory because the participation is being valued as well. The assessments are very beneficial and, from my point of view, and it helps to take a look back and see what can be constructively be put together and reviewed later on. So to say, the one who writes, reads twice… 😉


Anna Elsa

My Dubai Diary: 31 December 2015

Jan 11, 2016   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

DAY 6 (31 December)

This is the day when we are visiting Sharjah, the largest Emirate of UAE and the only one that has borders with all of the other Emirates. The buildings are seemingly not as tall as in Dubai and it appears to be a little bit greener, too, with some parks and playgrounds. Our first stop is Shurooq, the Legal Affairs Department.

First, we have a presentation about the planned eco-tourism sites and archeological tourism and the main themes are travel, healthcare and environment, as well as heritage. Switching on the business-side, we are told a little about the DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) and that in Sharjah, there are certain permitted company types (Limited Liability Company (LLC); Partnership Company; Local Services Agent License or Business Partnership License; Foreign Company Branch; Local Company Branch; GCC Company Branch; Public and Private Shareholding Companies). The Legal Department is mainly responsible of providing legal advice and guidance, of case and litigation management, and of documentation preparation and drafting. Regarding businesses that operate in more than one Emirate, the terms of businesses and cooperation should comply with the standards in all of them, as each Emirate has it’s ruling family and the laws may vary.
We stop by the Za’abeel Palace (also known the Palace of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum). It’s beautiful there though, of course, we don’t get the chance to go inside.
3Later on, we visit Maraya Art Centre, where we can observe some contemporary, local artists’ works, that are well enjoyable. Then, after trying out the Eye of Sharjah and the panoramic view, we are invited to taste the local food. Next, we go to the Heart of Sharjah, and it’s simply astonishing to see the great work they are doing, restaurating the historical sites (and by that, taking down some skyscrapers as well) and keeping the most resourceful museum about the arabic culture that I’ve seen. There, we get fresh coffee and dates, and the staff is very welcoming. Some buildings are made of corals and shells, there are souks (traditional marketplaces) and it’s possible to purchase natural perfumes (with no alcohol, instead using aromatic oils), fabrics, jewelry, silk embroidery and outfits as well (resulting in a couple of local-looking guys in our group J ).

4For the New Years Eve, some of our group had made reservations, some celebrated with their relatives and friends, and some, including me, went to the Jumeirah beach. Finding the best place there is easy, and both the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab are seen. There are lots of people, mostly families with children, yet the atmosphere is very peaceful. It’s wonderful being there, and the mosques shine golden against the black, and the Burj Al Arab is changing it’s colour…When it’s midnight, the fireworks begin, and from the beach, the sight is very good, though the Burj Khalifa is in greater distance, from afar we can see the fireworks there and in some other parts of the city, too. On our site, for a moment, they are in the colours of the flag of the UAE, then, some are in shapes of stars, and they are bursting all across the sky and on both sides of the Burj Al Arab.

Happy New Year,

Anna Elsa

My Dubai Diary: 30 December 2015

Jan 11, 2016   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

DAY 5 (30 December)

The first part of the day we spend in a bus, taking the time to get out of the city center again. With the moon still seen in the sky, the chances to spot another Lamborhgini are reducing – they are replaced by trucks. On our sides, there is desert, there are half-finished bridges and lots of overhead electricity power transmission lines. We are headed to the portside, to the Jebel Ali Free Zone. The guide steps in and tells us about each of the areas, as we drive further and see the cargo in great amounts. In transportation, time is money, and the cargo transmission is reminding about the focus on Africa, which appears to become more and more important part of the world. However, I’ll quote our guide,: “when capacity is needed, the solution is – build an island”. It might sound a little silly but that’s partly the reason why we see the Jebel Ali Palm from the port. Afterwards, a deeper look into the industry is gained by visiting the Dubai South. We are presented the districts that will take place in the Emirate of Dubai – residential, commercial, aviation district and other. The concept is mainly based on the indivudual, calling Dubai South – the city of you… What is interesting about it, it’s a new city, still being built, and this is the place where the World Expo 2020 will take place. I must admit, the foundations are being built fast, for those precious castles, yet seemingly in the clouds.

When back, we have a break in the Ibn Battuta Shopping Mall, where it’s a chance to do some quick shopping,  pick a snack, perhaps, find souvenirs, or get your name written in Arabic calligraphy – for a smile :* The mall has it’s characteristic design, with a strong inlfuence from the Ancient Egypt but with courts, such as China, Andalusia, Tunisia etc inside.

Last part of the programme for today, we have two lectures about doing Business In The Arab World and about Hotel Benchmarking, by Dr Stuart Jauncey. Beginning with history from the last century, how there were wooden houses and roofs made of tin, during the session he explains us the great impact of tradition, religion and culture (like Majlis, for example), when doing business. He talks about Islam, the Sharia law, about the political system (there are no political parties) and licensing of businesses. Here, important things are respect, reputation and, yes, negotiation plays a role, too. The laws might appear very strict but, when the background is understood, they make perfect sense, ensuring the security and honesty. Afterwards, there are tips and tricks discussed, talking about hotel benchmarking. It’s useful and revealing.

After 5PM, a free afternoon it is, and, guess what, tomorrow we are looking forward to visiting Sharjah, another Emirate of the UAE! And then, it’s the New Years Eve…


Anna Elsa

My Dubai Diary: 29 December 2015

Jan 11, 2016   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

DAY 4 (29 December)

It is a new, sunny day and as early as a quarter to eight in the morning, we are already on the road to see the Emirates Airlines. It is actually older than the UAE, operating flights before the independency from the UK was formed. The impression is – Emirates Airlines is really looking after their customers needs, focusing on making the flights more and more comfortable and improving it’s services all the time. Indeed, they have planes with showers, bars and lounges and I bet we’d enjoy a flight in one of those. There are over 170 nationalities of the world represented by the employees of the Airlines. As the global traffic streams are changing, it’s the location that makes them (and Dubai) special, with 2/3 of the world’s growing population reachable within a single 8 hour flight…and, with their magnificent aircrafts, they are facing the challenges of the industry as well, thus, taking no needless steps off the safe side. What is important, as we’re told, is that they have no aero political protection and Emirates is not subsidised.

1The next big stop is FedEx. There are held presentations and, again, we get a positive look on the business. They are, after all, transporting more than parcels, services include transportation of medicine, and even human organs. Legally, of course. Besides, they are fast and keeping an eye on social responsibility as well, not only by volunteering and striving to keep the “Purple Promise” of making each FedEx experience outstanding and reliable. Holding on to simple but valuable principles, they are a service company with stable grounds. The good thing is, they provide paid internships and workplaces, looking for the best cooperation with experts of all fields, working in more than 220 countries and territories globally.

2After exploring the many sides of aviation and logistics we’re ready to see things from a different angle…we’re looking for new horizons and we’re going to the desert. It’s not too far away and, after an hour’s drive, some have already tried the quad biking there, but to shake us all up a little more, we go dune driving, which shows us perfectly, what it’s like to have no regulated traffic and no flat city roads…it’s more than fun to stop at sunset and try rolling on the desert sand by ourselves…but, in case of forgetting our destination, there are only wheel tracks seen, leading in all directions. Thanks to our desert-wise drivers, thereafter, we’re taken to the Skyland camp where we get to ride camels, watch fire dancing, and much, much more. 😉

Returning to Dubai, the nightly view of the city has a dim, elegant shine to it and, finally, there’s a feeling that we’ve experienced something special today.


Anna Elsa

My Dubai Diary: 28 December 2015

Dec 29, 2015   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments


225283739e7801fab187ebeabb037ff0Today we visited Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Getting there a little early, we walked down to the Dubai creek. The one surprising thing there was not the architecture, which, of course was stunning (especially, because each building seems to have a little bit of a different concept, where sometimes beauty is in the details, and sometimes, the concept is simple, yet complete like a jewel – where no additional embellishments are necessary to make the impression). However, it was the first place where we could spot somewhat domestic animals that were not birds – more specifically – there were at least a dozen cats on the lawn…it’s prohibited to have animals like dogs in public parks, beaches, or transportation but cats…I guess, they always manage to find a cozy spot. Besides, there is even a cat cafe, not far from the EAHM and Jumeirah Beach… 🙂

In the Dubai Chamber, we are warmly welcomed and got a presentation from it’s representatives. There, we talk about the Dubai GDP growth, about the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, the statistics, and how it’s a business-friendly city…really, with no taxes! (at least for now). 😉 Yet again, one of the most important things is to understand the regulation and, therefore, there are arbitration and mediation services available, as well as the Department of Economic Development of Dubai is offering a great support.

Afterwards, we go right to the next building, to the 15th floor of Emirates NBD (National Bank of Dubai) Head Office, where lies the Pearl Museum. It holds one of the largest collections of natural pearls, which is a gift to the people of the United Arab Emirates from the Sultan Al Owais. Before being led through the museum, we have a very informative presentation about the NBD and banking in the UAE, where efficiency plays a meaningful role – there is a Smart Government system, allowing people to access the public services through mobile apps, there is mobile banking and the customer services are constantly advancing.

The Pearl Museum tells us a story about Dubai before the oil was discovered. Pearl diving was more than providing trade possibilities and opening markets, it was a tradition.  There were precious maps of the gulf pearl banks, shared only between authorities. The motto of the Emirates NBD reads “Semper vigilant” and means “always watchful”, which is suitable and also quite universally applicable.

Later, in the afternoon, we have another two lectures awaiting. The first one is about Dar Al Sharia Legal & Financial Consultancy, explaining the details of Islamic banking principles (and comparing it to commercial banking). We are given a lot of information, some of which is known, but most is very specific, and afterwards some are having a little bit racked brains from trying hard to digest as much of it as possible.

After a short break, there’s an Arab Language lesson, which is both fun and educating. There are phrases, numbers, pronounciation tasks and some written examples. Even though we can’t possibly learn the language to start talking right away, it’s good to have an introduction like this.

Tired but happy, in the evening some of us go to dine on The Palm, others take the time to rest, as tomorrow promises to be exciting.


Anna Elsa

My Dubai Diary: 27 December 2015

Dec 29, 2015   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

DAY 2 (27 December)

It is Sunday and the week begins. Yes, the working week begins on Sunday and the “weekend” means Friday and Saturday. The first thing today – we’re all gathering in a lecture room, there’s another round of introductions, a little orientation in the programme in general, and our first lecture about the Arab language and culture. There’s a lot to be learned, as we discuss the geography, the history of the Middle East, also the religion and how Islam now has two main denominations – Sunni and Shia, and look over the developing economy and politics. Our teacher has handouts and, while speaking of culture, even shows us some parts of the traditional costumes, explaining the history as well, and we get to think for ourselves, as there are tasks for us too, that involves a deeper conversation and cooperation, which I found very useful.

Jumeirah_Islands_on_1_May_2007After that we are visiting the Nakheel Properties. Nakheel is the creator of the man-made islands of Dubai and a large real estate developing company. We are shown a presentation about Dubai’s development through the years, about how The Palm and other man-made islands are created, based on tons and tons of rocks and maximising the coastline, and how it affects the environment, which too, is taken care of. Today we begin to get a decent insight of Dubai today and the plans for the future, regarding growth in vairous fields, for example, the logistics and real estate.

Then, leaving the Nakheel area with it’s blooming plumeria trees and strolling peacocks, the next place of visit is Kempinski on the Palm – a great 5* hotel, located…guess no more – it’s on The Palm. It’s hot outside but inside – there is a Christmas tree and sweet decorations, confirming that it’s winter here, after all, and the New Year is coming. The hotel is shining in luxury and we have a guide, informing us about the Kempinski chain itself and showing us around the hotel – including two-storey rooms with pools and panoramic sight. Yet, we are aware that the other one, the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi is awaiting for us the next week for a more detailed comparison. 😉

Before heading back, we go down to the sea and enjoy the sun. Most of The Palm’s infrastructure is still being created, and there are special regulations to be followed (both by the Dubai and UAE laws, as well as guidelines provided by Nakheel Properties) during the process. The legislation is very welcoming and there is a Green Building Regulations & Specifications, as well as a newly introduced PPP  (public-private-partnership) regulation, attracting investors more easily.

The working day seemingly ends for most people at around 5PM, which causes some traffic jams and loads of construction workers passing on the streets. The week has only begun, but, it’s the day by day work that makes the architecture of Dubai sky-rocketing. And then, all of a sudden, the first day has gone by, with the sun descending under deep pink sky…

Dies recedet, bene factum non abscedet 🙂

Anna Elsa

My Dubai Diary: 26 December 2015

Dec 29, 2015   //   by cblinter   //   Student Blog  //  No Comments

DAY 1 (26 December)

Dear reader,

My name is Anna Elsa, I am a law student from Riga, Latvia, and a member of ELSA (European Law Students Association), which is how I found out about CBL International Dubai Winter Law School 2015. With the help of this blog I’ll provide you with a daily insight of the Law School activities and my own impressions and experience in the UAE.

– – –

burj al arabAs I arrived in Dubai International Airport quite early, at 2AM, before the day had really begun, it was still impressive, driving in a huge taxi on the wide, fast motorways, chatting with the driver and, well, seeing the city at night – along with the first sight of the tall Burj Khalifa and then – Burj Al Arab, which is closer to the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM), my home for the next few days. I must say, the room I’m staying in is really like a small apartment and it’s adorable and very comfortable. And then there’ s a pool, a basketball area, a tennis court, a small shop and a training centre right on the site. It’s pleasantly quiet, though there are construction works going on (and not only in the EAHM area, the city has lots of construction sites, promising to become the new wonders of the world very soon 🙂 ).

In the morning I could hear a muezzin calling to daily prayers from the nearby mosque. Later that day I met some of the other delegates and we decided to go to the Dubai Marina. First, we’d had an idea to walk, but, after a while, we decided to take a taxi (or two) – though, in the map everything seemed so close, there were almost no pedestrians and, I guess, the distances are not to be underestimated. After a small lunch in the Dubai Marina we walked among skyscrapers, visited Jumeirah beach and, along the way, a lot of pictures were made, even though it was a bit rainy and the wind was unusually cool. As, in Dubai it rains very rarely, from that point of view, we must have been very lucky. For the coming days the weather is forecasted to be much sunnier though 😉

Dubai_Mall_(UAE)To get back to our accommodation we got in the Dubai metro. Walking was not an option. Besides, it’s even prohibited to cross the street at some places (like near the Marina Mall). However, we had to get off at “The Dubai Mall”, as it appeared to be closest to the EAHM. By choosing which way to exit, again, strange or not, our little group had the part of the station just for ourselves – with the rest of people…probably going straight to the largest shopping mall in the world, the Dubai Mall. Finally, in the evening all the participants gathered at the gates of the EAHM and met the Programme Director and other participants that had arrived. We had a quick overlook on the coming activities and were reminded of the regulations in the UAE, about our appearance in public (one should choose a semi-formal or business casual attire when outside of the hotel territory), as well as that it’s not acceptable to show affection too openly, for example, kissing or holding hands in public. Alcoholic substances are prohibited to have and use, unless one has a special license or is drinking in a hotel or a bar which has the license. You are also not allowed to be drunk in public and one can get into trouble if caught.

As we found out, there are participants coming from Austria, Belgium, India, Australia and other countries, but most are from Germany. 🙂 Also, most of us are students, whether it’s from a bachelor’s or master’s degree, some are specialising in  business, others in law, or even both.

So far, I’m convinced we’re going to have a wondeful time!


Anna Elsa

My Dubai Diary: Sunday 31 May 2015

Jun 11, 2015   //   by Haya Aldlame   //   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.

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