If you want to gather credits at a double-accredited and modern university while dispelling your prejudices in year-round sunshine in one of the world’s richest countries, a semester at the University of Dubai could be for you!
The United Arab Emirates is a country on the coast of the Persian Gulf and is one of the richest countries in the world. It is a federation comprising seven autonomous emirates with Abu Dhabi as the capital. The main source of the constitution in the UAE is Sharia law, i.e. Islamic law, but this does not play any significant role in civil law. The country is undergoing major modernisation, but it is very conservative with regard to certain topics. For example, homosexuality is punishable by death, and the internet is heavily censored. While the UAE is a high-profile and active member of the anti-ISIS coalition and you should therefore behave accordingly in crowds of people, in general the country is viewed as one of the safest countries in the Middle East in terms of crime rates. The population is increasing at a breathtaking pace on account of the many economic immigrants from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Of the almost 9 million inhabitants, only 15% are UAE nationals. The Emirates want to remain an Arab country, and so expatriates have no political voting rights and cannot get health insurance, social insurance or own property. The “Emirati” are a multi-ethnic society with a political and social system based on traditional tribal and family affiliations. The citizens of this wealthy state have a fixed place in society in their clan with the integrating element of faith. The founding of trade unions or political parties is prohibited, as political power is tied to birthright and family hierarchy. The young generation has access to an excellent education with state financial support. The call to prayer can be heard five times a day, and only foreigners can consume alcohol and pork (substitute). The traditional hobbies of the Arabs include falconry, horse and camel racing as well as football, wrestling, tennis, water sports and spending time in shopping malls. Since 2006 the weekend takes place on Friday/Saturday, with only a few private-sector companies sticking to the old model of Thursday/Friday. Tourism is a relatively recent but important factor in order to reduce dependency on oil exports. Uninterrupted sunshine, long beaches, warm water and a large number of active holiday options, preferably in luxurious hotels, speak for themselves. Because there are no direct taxes, shopping in the modern and air-conditioned malls can be very worthwhile.
The second-largest emirate of the UAE is mostly made up of desert. 90% of the roughly 800,000 inhabitants live in the capital city of Dubai with the only natural port on the Persian Gulf, the banks of which are lined with impressive buildings made from glass and concrete. You should cross Dubai Creek, where the traditional Arabian wooden boats known as ‘dhows’ run in and out of port, on an Arba (water taxi) and enjoy the view of the skyline with the skyscrapers, including the Twin Towers and the National Bank of Dubai. You can immerse yourself in the world of bazaars in Deira, a retail area, while Bur Dubai is a good place to enjoy the magic of the picture-postcard old town and the traditional architecture. In downtown Dubai, you can wander through the world’s largest shopping centre, the Dubai Mall, and take a detour to the Burj Khalifa, the highest tower on the planet. A trip to the water and amusement park Wild Wadi Waterpark is also worthwhile. The probably most Western city in the Emirates has an active night-life and various options for socialising, as well house racing and golf tournaments. Taxis are cheap and worth using, as is the (generally overcrowded) metro.
The University of Dubai (UD) was founded in 1997 by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and is a private AACSB and ABET-accredited university. It is divided into the College of Business Administration and the College of Information Technology. UD has signed up to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), an initiative that aims to establish responsible management training at universities. HSBA students can take part in the 3-week courses in the winter or summer semester and can accumulate up to 12 ECTS at those courses. In the following spring or autumn semester, students can then again attend five courses for up to 30 ECTS. Students must pay the registration and course fees (for exact amounts please see the fact sheet) themselves, but can apply for a scholarship from Verein der Freunde und Förderer der HSBA. Performance is assessed using quizzes, homework, mid-term and final exams. Attendance is mandatory and is monitored using a fingerprint system. The courses take place in small groups from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. HSBA student David S. tells of the welcoming and warm culture of the people, which made living in Dubai easy. Free of prejudices, he says that you can make up your own mind about Arabian culture and everyday life. The other students were mainly Middle Eastern and were very helpful when it came to organising leisure time and providing local knowledge. The university also organises various trips, e.g. desert trips. “While many Europeans only explore Dubai as a tourist, we had an opportunity to get a deeper insight into the culture of the Middle East. In this way, I got a nuanced view of Dubai”, said Nicolas R. A female HSBA student reported that you can also feel at home there as a woman, provided you obey the basic rules of keeping knees, shoulder and décolleté covered.
UD recommends DSO University Residences for their international students. The rates are competitive, the rooms are clean and the amenities are all inclusive. It also offers a one – time free drop off and pick up shuttle service. It is located no more than 10 – 15 minutes away from UD by bus, and the costs are around 600 USD/month. You may also look for accommodation yourself, e.g. at dubizzle.com, booking.com or agoda.com. The exchange students quoted above stayed in the mid-range Golden Sand Apartment at (www.goldensandsdubai.com/). We recommend getting in touch by e-mail and requesting the specific period. The apartments have a kitchen and a washing machine, and there is also a pool (which did, however, prove to be noisy). It is around 10 minutes by car from here to the university, or 2 stops on the metro. There is a supermarket directly across from the hotel. This alternative is quite costly; you should budget for EUR 500 per week.