Since 2009, MCI Tourism has been organizing the "International Study Program" as part of the Entrepreneurship & Tourism master's program. This 2-week study tour aims to bridge theory and practice, discussing and reflecting on tourism development in the context of academic inquiries. This year's Study Tour brought 19 third-semester students to the United Arab Emirates and Southeast Asia. Under the motto "We make the world our classroom," students had the opportunity to explore three different tourism destinations, experiencing tourism, culture, and the land firsthand.
Our first stop was Dubai, one of the most well-known destinations in the Middle East, attracting over 14 million visitors annually. To better understand the fascination of Dubai, we began with "Welcome to Dubai – Introduction to Tourism in the UAE." Samer Alhaider from Emirates Airlines gave a guest lecture, explaining the airline industry's role in Dubai's transformation into an international tourism destination. The following day, our lecturer and guide, Abdelmoutalib El Messaoudi, introduced us to the world of Arabian culture. We explored the "old" Dubai with its vibrant souks and learned about Arabian and Islamic culture, hospitality, and traditions through a lecture. After delving into Dubai's captivating history and culture, we ventured into "modern" Dubai. A visit to the "Museum of the Future" showcased Dubai's ambitious future plans and innovative ideas.
The journey continued with a visit to our long-standing partner, the Emirates Academy of Hospitality, where we learned about "Sustainability Practices in the Hospitality Industry in Dubai" and "Dubai – Working in a Cross-Cultural Environment." The knowledge shared provided new insights into sustainability in the Arab region and working in a multicultural setting. We also gained insights into the luxury hotel and service industry in Dubai. Our first stop was the famous Burj al Arab hotel, where students had the chance to peek behind the scenes of this self-proclaimed 7-star hotel. We then visited the innovative and modern W Dubai - The Palm, a best-practice example of target-specific product development and marketing. Both hotel visits vividly demonstrated how to achieve customer satisfaction and excitement.
Next, our journey took us to the neighboring Emirate of Abu Dhabi under the guidance of our lecturer, Abdelmoutalib El Messaoudi. Our first visit was to the architectural gem of Saadiyat Island, the Louvre Museum, where we admired masterpieces from various art eras. We then toured the presidential palace, "Qasr Al Watan," a magnificent structure that has attracted numerous visitors since 2019, offering historical insights into the UAE's politics. After a brief stop at the Etihad Towers, we witnessed the sunset at one of the most impressive mosques in the UAE – the Sheikh Zayed Mosque – where students experienced how tourist attractions in the UAE professionally manage visitor flow management and stage experiences.
A visit to the desert is almost obligatory when in Dubai, as it deepens understanding of the culture and life in the UAE and is an integral part of Dubai's tourist offerings. On the final day, we visited the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve with Platinum Heritage, exploring desert dunes and the local flora and fauna. In addition to seeing oryx and camels, we had the opportunity to spot some gazelles in their natural habitat. This experience was enhanced by a falcon show, as falconry has a long tradition in the UAE and is part of Emirati culture. In the Bedouin camp, students could try authentic Arabian cuisine, including camel meat and milk, and enjoy Arabic cultural entertainment. The desert tour and Bedouin camp once again highlighted the unique aspects of Arabian hospitality and traditions, making it a valuable learning experience for the students.
Next stop: Singapur!
The master's students in Dubai. ©Stefanie Haselwanter
The tourism students in front of the famous landmark of Dubai, the Burj al Arab. ©Stefanie Haselwanter
The master's students on an exciting desert tour. ©Stefanie Haselwanter
The master's students in Abu Dhabi. P©Stefanie Haselwanter