Skip to main content
All Posts By

Nija Harris

Back to Reality

By Dubai

I’ve been back in New York for about 3 days now and Dubai has been on my mind ever since. This trip was by far the best I have ever been on, it was both educational and adventurous. Learning about Expo 2020 and all the plans they have was one of the most informative presentations. We learned about all the planning involved, from before they submitted the bid to after being awarded the Expo. I admire how the whole city came together to make this possible, and I truly believe they deserve it.

Expo 2020 model

6 Expo 2020 model

The most adventurous part of my trip was the Desert Safari. We separated into groups of four and drove on the sand dunes in an SUV. My group asked for the crazy route and it felt like we were on a roller coaster. Our driver, Siraj, was also a great tour guide. He showed us the cricket arena, horse racing field, Arabian sand fish, and we saw a gazelle. We stopped to see camels up close. We sat in a small area to watch a falcon show. After that, we returned to Siraj’s SUV and continued to the dinner camp. I enjoyed the camel ride, even though my camel seemed to be tired and not in the mood, the henna tattoos and trying the shisha. That night, the government announced that because of the Birth of the Prophet, no alcohol, music or belly dancing was allowed. I think the whole group had a good time as we returned back to the DoubleTree hotel.

During our free time, I went to the Global Village where they have a lot of different countries and sold goods and food that represented each. The best part of the trip, which I think my classmates and I can agree on was Mozhgan, our tour guide throughout the trip. She was always so nice and energetic, even those mornings we had to meet up at 7 am, she went above and beyond her job and made us all feel welcomed.

Overall, this trip has been a one of kind, words cannot describe, I highly recommend visiting Dubai! I feel very fortunate to have experienced it with FIU. Thank you, Prof. Kitterlin and Dawn!!!  🙂


Nija in the Dubai desert

Nija in the Dubai desert

Meanwhile in Dubai…

By Dubai

We have been in Dubai for several days, and I am in love! The culture, the fast growing hospitality industry, and the friendly people who take pride in everything they do makes this an amazing country. Yesterday I was on FaceTime with my best friend,

The SMCCU visit was truly one of a kind. SMCCU stands for Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding which opened in 1998. It is a non-profit organization that gives tourists information about the history, culture and religion of Dubai. We received hands on knowledge from Sharif who is a local Emirati. He was so well spoken and was ready to answer or clear up any misconception that we had about people from the Middle East. We learned a lot about the culture, the traditional outfits, and how Dubai became a country. But even though they have a rich heritage, they are very welcoming to visitors: 80% of the population are from other countries and 200 nationalities are in Dubai.

We visited a mosque and ate a traditional Arabic dinner that always begins with Arabic coffee and dates. The coffee cups are small and only a little coffee is poured to make sure that it remains hot. You sip the coffee, which is unsweetened, then take a bite of the date, which is sweet. We ate family style – large portions on the rug and everyone serving themselves.

In addition to learning about the culture, Sharif explained the reasons behind the traditional clothing. I volunteered to model the traditional khamir. He said that it is a woman’s choice to wear it and not a requirement. You would assume that wearing black would be hot in the Middle East but wearing dark clothes is actually cooler for you.12371148_1027237013963978_5680064207915105622_o

When we took the monorail to Atlantis, we were about to see the houses and buildings that make up the Palm Island. At the end of the monorail is Atlantis. The Palm is a man-made island but not the only one. From inside Atlantis, you can see The World Islands, which are man-made islands of continents of the world. Since Dubai is a Muslim country and gambling is illegal, it does not have a casino like the one in the Bahamas. Our tour guide showed us the presidential suite that is always guarded by security, has three bedrooms, and a huge living room.

Last night a few girls and I went to a night club. It was a lot different from the U.S. but also very similar. The atmosphere was amazing and the people were so friendly.


Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 12.04.06 AM

4 More Days Until We Leave!

By Dubai

dubai photo

The time has finally come! I will be leaving for Dubai on Sunday and I’m so ecstatic! This course is filled with things I have always wanted to do. We’ll be visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, World Expo 2020 Dubai, Ferrari World, Burj Khalifa and plenty more.  I believe this experience will enhance my global citizenship because it’ll help me be more diverse and learn about other cultures.

The best way to learn and understand something is by experiencing it yourself. U.A.E. recently celebrated their 44th birthday and the president listed a very interesting and unique 10 point plan that I think will also help the U.S. After participating in the Dubai Study Abroad program, my mom furthered her hospitality career and relocated.  This proved to me that with these experiences you can become a more successful industry professional.

EDUCATIONAL SITE VISIT/PRESENTATION: Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTMC)

While we are on our trip, I am looking forward to the presentation from the Department of Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). Its mission is “to position Dubai as the leading tourism destination and commercial hub in the world.” I looked on their website and it is filled with information. They are responsible for the licensing of all of the tourism services and it has a vision for 2020 which includes welcoming 20 million visitors per year by 2020. It has 20 offices worldwide to promote and educate people about Dubai.

They have really made it easy for someone that is interested in visiting Dubai or someone that lives in Dubai to find events that interest them.  There is a Dubai Tourism app that visitors can download and a Travel Planner to help you create a list of things to do and places to visit.

Visit Dubai


Dubai is home to Burj Khalifa; it holds the records for:

– Tallest building in the world
– Tallest free-standing structure in the world
– Highest number of stories in the world
– Highest outdoor observation deck in the world
– Elevator with the longest travel distance in the world
– Tallest service elevator in the world

It took six years from the beginning of the construction until it opened on January 4, 2010. It has offices, residences, Armani Hotel Dubai, fitness centers, and pools. It looks like a thin sculpture rising above all of the buildings around it. It is incredible to think how it was built – how there was so much planning involved to make sure that it can withstand the wind and the other factors that go into building skyscrapers.  The architecture was done so that it could look like art but also so it could structurally stable. The design was inspired by the Hymenocallis flower (Spider Lily). The Y-shaped floor plan was done to see the Arabian Gulf and from the base or from the air, it is like the onion domes that is seen in Islamic architecture. It has high-intensity xenon lights outside to prevent air-traffic collisions.

Level 122: There is a restaurant and lounge called At.mosphere. For the lounge, seating is every two hours and there is a minimum of AED 200 per person for lunch and AED 250 per person for dinner.
Level 124:  At the Top Observation Deck and souvenirs
Level 123:  Dubai – A Falcon’s Eye View attraction
Level 148:  The world’s highest outdoor observation desk and lounges

 Spider Lily

Hymenocallis flower (Spider Lily)

 Burj Khalifa




Skip to toolbar