When Arab tradition meets a policy of constant growth

A hands-on experience of international business-dealing and intercultural management: this was the goal driving the Bachelor’s, Master’s and MBA students from IUBH during their excursion to Dubai.


In today’s world, companies are becoming more global in their orientation, and have an increasing need to focus on international procurement and foreign sales markets. As such, Intercultural Understanding, Diversity Management, and International Growth Strategies are moving to the fore as topics of study. In August 2019, IUBH students at undergraduate, graduate and MBA levels spent a week in the United Arab Emirates to gain an on-the-ground insight into the Dubai growth region. Dubai is a place that has attracted great attention in recent years through its iconic buildings, ultra-luxury hotels, spectacular island developments and vast shopping malls. But most impressive of all is the sheer speed at which it has developed from a minor desert city to a renowned hub for global business, tourism and international logistics, all in the space of just 30 years. And on top of this, Dubai still has ‘ambitious plans for the future,’ as stated by the Senior Manager for Training and Development in the course of her exciting lecture, ‘Welcome Tomorrow’, at Emirates HQ in Dubai Airport.

Broadening the horizons of professional life

‘My personal mission on this journey is to provide a comprehensive understanding of this much-discussed growth region, broaden horizons for our students’ future professional lives, and of course simply provide an unforgettable experience for all participants,’ said René Rüth, trip organiser, longtime lecturer at IUBH Berlin and managing director of the IMEC Management Institute in Frankfurt. ‘The programme has been carefully devised, featuring selected speakers and experts from the region along with many other highlights. A Q&A session has been planned in conjunction with each lecture to clarify relevant questions and promote creative exchange at management level.’

Arab culture shapes regional business structures

The excursion focused on two topics: first, the conceptual underpinnings of regional business structures, which are influenced by a policy of constant growth; and second, the Arab cultural values and traditional and religious beliefs that are of profound importance to business practices here, and thus to business success in the wider Arab world. The Head of Business Development of the German Chamber of Commerce (AHK) in Dubai began the programme with an exclusive ‘Economic Introduction to the UAE Region’. In the following days there were numerous company visits with lectures by top managers  from the likes of Emirates Airlines, Bosch, 3M and JW Marriott. The content of the events and lectures remained centred on the relevant study topics ie. Service Excellence, Marketing & Sales, Innovation and Tourism Management. Another highlight was the visit to Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, a world metropolis for sustainability and innovation. In addition, various cultural dialogues and a visit to world-famous Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi featured on the agenda.

األبواب مفتوحة. العقول متفتحة: Open doors, open minds

In order to understand the business mentality of another culture, the traditional framework behind it must be explored in full. Thanks to the kind support of the Sheik Mohammend Center for Cultural Understanding, students had the opportunity to discuss cultural customs and practices with local experts as part of a traditional Emirati reception. A true broadening of horizons for all participants, and a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes at the traditions, values, conceptual structures and interpretations of Islam that characterise the region. ‘It would be better if the media made their reporting a bit more multidimensional,’ was the conclusion of one participant.

Riding the Desert Dunes

After these impressive and inspiring lectures, another special feature was to come: a desert tour. In high-powered off-road vehicles, the excursion set off from a nature reserve, and after some intensive ‘dune bashing’, the exhausted group was received in a true-to-the-original Bedouin camp for Arabian food, a hookah pipe and a traditional belly dance. ‘This tour really was unique – too many exciting experiences to think about all at once,’ one of the students said in summary. ‘My personal horizons have truly widened.’


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