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California State University study group visits UOWD

Tuesday, 2 April, 2013

The University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) hosted a delegation of students from California State University (CSU), visiting the UAE to get a firsthand perspective of doing business in Dubai.

The study group from CSU San Bernardino attended an afternoon of lectures delivered by UOWD faculty members Dr Melodena S. Balakrishnan and Dr Hela Miniaoui, followed by a lively Q&A session exploring the perceptions and realities of trading in Dubai.

The students were visiting the UAE as part of their business studies elective ‘Doing Business in the Middle East’. The group represented a range of major study areas, including International Business, Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Finance.

Accompanying the delegation, Dr Vipin Gupta, Co-Director of the Global Management Center at CSU Bernardino said, “This is a fascinating opportunity for the students to get a real insight into the business operations of an emerging market. The UAE is a good case study as it has identified and brought together expertise from different parts of the world, which has helped it to innovate and to achieve the best results through combining knowledge assets. This in itself is an interesting business model.”

The elective requires the students to consider the opportunities and challenges of operating a business in the Middle East, in the context of their degree majors. Dr Balakrishnan provided an insight into a number of business challenges through real life case studies of companies trading in the Middle East. Drawing examples from the AIB-MENA book “Actions and Insights: Middle East North Africa – East meets West” Dr Balakrishnan highlighted the challenges overcome by the Americana Group in operating its restaurant business in Mecca, and the impressive growth of Aramex PJSC in carving a competitive niche in the global logistics and express transportation service industry. Dr Miniaoui went on to give the students a detailed insight into the Islamic Finance and Banking systems, highlighting the tenets of Sharia and the key difference between conventional and Islamic banking.

For the Q&A session, the panel were joined by University President, Professor Trevor Spedding; Associate Professor in the Faculty of Finance and Accounting, Dr Mufeed Rawashdeh; and Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Business and Management, Dr Michael Newnham. The session explored the cultural as well as the business dimensions of functioning in the UAE and how these factors interconnect.

Following the event, Amelia Keeling, a third year student majoring in International Business and Entrepreneurship said, “My project is to look into setting up a health food venture, ‘Simply Wholesome’, here in the UAE. As well as learning about the importance of the business model, the investor potential and the personnel aspects, today has given me an insight into marketing a new business in the region, and how company values can be as important as brand names. I have been encouraged to see that there is great potential for my enterprise here and I am already thinking about how to put a business plan together.” 

UOWD was the last stop on the students’ tour of the UAE, which took in businesses and Government organisations from across Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain.