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Hospitality Adventures in Dubai

Dubai - Fall 2015
FIU’s study abroad experience in Dubai offers exploration and familiarization of a major international tourism destination.

Post Departure Blog – Dubai

By Dubai

Here I am, back in reality. Back at home, back to work, back to Miami’s traffic and back to daydreaming about Dubai. It almost feels too real that I was able to travel across the world and meet such a fascinating culture and large sense of accomplishment. Being exposed to this great city sets forth a new visual perspective of what the world has and could accomplish; most importantly, in such a unified and respectful fashion. What was most impressive to me is the way such a multi-cultural society is able to function in the most gratifying and excellent way to give wonderful service/catering to the tourists.

On the eighth day we visited one of the Emirates Office Towers to learn more about the World Expo in 2020, which will take place in Dubai, UAE. Future structures and catering being planned in Dubai is only a bonus to the already great hospitality they have to offer. With what Dubai has planned, I feel confident that this city will be able to provide magnificent world-class service for it upcoming world-class event.


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Unfortunately, Dubai faces obstacles with its reputation due to unflattering circumstances in surrounding countries. But despite this, I have seen great potential for the people from Dubai and I am confident that they will succeed in bringing in 28 million visitors to Dubai by 2020. Everyone was very generous, polite and helpful that it just made me think so much about how we are a diverse nation in the United States, yet the manner in which tourists are being treated are extremely distinctive. In which way? Well, I can say that I’ve never experienced such amazing service from the moment I arrived, till the moment I left. I am certain that Hospitality majors who have traveled or will travel to Dubai leave with the sense of pleasure and new ideas that may perhaps be implemented in their own workplace, as Dubai has left us all star-struck with the amazing innovative and sophisticated hospitality.

With such a great experience, I have planned to make a second trip to Dubai. Most likely during the Expo in 2020, but this time I’d like to share the experience with family members. Since I have been back home, I’ve told them all about Dubai, and just as I am, they are fascinated! Though they have not physically been there, they are more than excited to actually go over and experience the city for themselves.

The last day was memorable, I enjoyed the view from the Al Dawaar Revolving Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency , it was simply wonderful. I would also love thank Mozhgan for making this all possible and most importantly for her warm and loving personality. She was the absolute best and I swear I wanted to put her in my pocket. Her knowledge and polite attitude made her approachable every single time. She is an excellent tour guide and once again, would love to thank her for taking so much of her time to guide us on what was the best study abroad class ever!

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Back in Miami.

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Since We’ve Parted

By Dubai

Visiting Dubai has truly been an experience I will never forget. Studying abroad with the Hospitality Management students has given me insight to new levels. We got the opportunity to hear about behind the scene productions of what makes Dubai such an amazing country from presentations by Kerzner, Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing, and Nakheel as well as having fun at different attractions such as Ferrari World, Ski Dubai, and the Desert Safari.

The Nakheel and 2020 Expo presentations have definitely been the most inspiring of the entire trip. Since I’ve reached home, all I’ve been discussing is how unified and innovative Dubai is. The Nakheel real estate developing company is responsible for many of Dubai’s greatest landmarks such as Palm Island and World Island, just two of the many man-made island that shows their ingenuity working towards a vision to be the most influential place in the world, in addition to their residential and retail projects. It was amazing to be able to hear about their future endeavors to become of Dubai. I’ve never heard of the 2020 Expo before entering this class, so to be able to hear from the creators themselves, the plan, and theme of the exposition “Connecting Minds, Creating The Future,” as it’s being created is truly a blessing. As the spoke about the different aspects of opportunity, mobility, and sustainability being the three main concepts, it showed how unified the country is and that everyone has the same common goal to be forever growing towards a better Dubai.

I believe Dubai should be the ambassador of the world. It sounds crazy but they truly understand the need to be great as a society, we must all stand together as a force.



The Nakheel building


Model of Palm Island in the Nakheel office


Model of the 2020 Exposition

Of all the attractions, the Desert Safari was definitely was the most thrilling, surpassing riding the fastest roller coaster in the world at Ferrari World and visiting the tallest building in the world.  Our driver Siraj definitely made the ride through the dunes an adventure I will be able to talk about forever. I’ve never been so excited yet scared in my life from doing nose dives and driving sideways in the truck through the dunes. It’s so beautiful to be in the middle of the desert and feel such peace with God’s masterpiece.



The fact that Dubai is being newly built off of western ideas with so many different nationalities living there yet they still can see the greater value in working together as a unit is something extremely admirable. I truly believe that simple value of standing as a unit is something that I will take with me anywhere I go. It’s as simple as the saying “there’s no I in Team” and it’s the ultimate truth. With a team of strong individuals there no reason for one to not be successful in this life. This trip has truly helped me see that there is more to life than what we see in our every day routines. I’ve always known that but when you see the breakdown of every aspect of a country’s workmanship/government from its tourism to its real estate developers it is not the same picture you depict in your head.

I can say that as a professional I will take the value of unity and stress it everywhere I go. I want to thank all of you for making this experience one that I will forever be grateful for! It was truly amazing meeting all of you, and I hope to see you soon!

Dubai, I will come back some day!

By Dubai

The 10-day tour is over. Sadly, I already begin to miss it.

I would say with no doubt that this is my best tourism experience ever. People here are warmhearted and thoughtful to every one. The skyscrapers are special and beautiful. The desert is gorgeous. Everything is just so perfect that I can’t believe they are real. But they are.

The most remarkable experiences that I had were L’altelier des Chefs of Dubai and the Desert Safari.




L’altelier des Chefs of Dubai is a cooking school that discovers a range of cooking classes. It hires professional chefs to teach you knife skills and other culinary tips. We had a good time cooking our dinner with the guidance of Derin Aribas and his assistant. He taught us how to cut herbs, as we took off the hard stems and gently rub the leaves into a ball to let more liquid stay in the leaves. And speak of mushrooms, we removed the stems to make the cutting process safer. In addition, we learned the basic method to cook a steak. We put butter in a hot pan, then put the seasoned raw steak inside. To avoid the hot oil splashing to ourselves, we should lay the meat down away from us, towards the back of the stove instead of the front. At last, in the plating session, Derin told us always try to make the dish look high to draw people’s attention.

We had a wonderful meal eating the food created from our own hands, and it actually was very tasty. The spicy taste of little potatoes were just right, steak was with great quality, the mushroom slides mixed with cream sauce were very chewy and full of flavor as well. I enjoyed this activity a lot because Derin showed us not only the epitome of the restaurant kitchen, but also the quality of a chef you need to make sure everything is in the right amount and being cooked in the correct amount of time, you need to control them to arrange the food. If something went wrong, you must keep following the next procedure and try to fix it afterwords, don’t hesitate on the work, it only will make the result worse, so you need to always feel relaxed and calm down. I think that’s a good personality for even all the hospitality industry people, because when different things are popping up all the time, it’s really difficult to focus on one issue, people may easily get stressed and even lost.


The other one is Desert Safari. This was my first time to go deep in a desert, and it is truly amazing. Our whole group went by several SUV’s.  When we dived deep inside the desert, the ground was all silver sand and they form small hills. The special geography made our ride like a roller coaster. We went up and down through the desert, it was so much fun and I will never forget that moment.

After that we touched the sands and saw sun set in the desert. I felt peace when I saw the boundless desert stretched to the horizon, just like an ocean without waves. They are motionless, like eternity. Finally we rode camels, they have only one hump. Besides we ate some traditional food and laid on the ground to see the beautiful stars. It was a enjoyable day. I thought it would be very hot in the desert, but in fact we came in afternoon, the temperature had gone down and was very comfortable. This experience helps me widen my eyes, and makes me more clear about life condition at desert countries.

Dubai, I will come back some day!

P.S. Special thanks to our nice tour guide Mozhgan.

Bye Dubai

By Dubai

Hello Wanderers,

So after multiple flights and many hours of travel, I finally made it home for Christmas. It was really great to be home for such a special night I always share with my family but, all things aside, I felt very different and I’m not talking about jetlag.

I realize many of the cultural experiences have impacted me greatly. During many conversations with family and friends, I caught myself referring to one particular cultural event to describe the excitement that I feel when I think about the Arab culture. The Desert Safari gave me a chance to learn more about the root of Arab culture and experience things I have only seen on TV. Riding a camel, watching a falcon hunt, and sitting to watch the sunset in the desert were all things I learned about at the cultural dinner on our first day. It was amazing to be able to experience it all myself and, as I share these experiences, I realize I have grown fond of the culture and my time in the desert.


Although I had to leave, it is not forever. I am extremely excited to return to Dubai; especially after our visit to the World Expo 2020 office. What we learned about the expo concerning how it will be designed and how it will be conducted is beyond exciting and helped make sense of the numbers we were given at other presentations with regards to growth and expected growth in development for the city. Furthermore, the subtopics of Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability are even more exciting to me because of what I have learned about Dubai and their environmental commitment during this course. Let’s just say they don’t exactly have a sustainable or environmentally friendly past, so the fact that they are tackling this topic is really a testament to their dedication to change and a more environmentally-friendly future.


And just like that, I am back where I started– in front of my suitcase. Only this time I’m unpacking. I am so thankful for this adventure, which has made me much more knowledgeable about a culture I truly knew nothing about and for affording me the opportunity to learn more about the hospitality industry as well as connect with professionals in the field. This trip has opened my eyes to a new part of the world and I think it has made me better as both a citizen of the world and as an industry professional by introducing a new market I had no idea existed and a country that is, in my opinion, really doing hospitality right!

I cannot wait until my next trip to Dubai and I urge everyone who reads this to plan a trip to Dubai (best time: Winter, 2020) and encourage others to do the same.

Yours In Wandering,

Alexandria Delgado

Goodbye Dubai (for now), we’ll meet again soon!

By Dubai

Hey readers!

Three days have gone by since I got back from Dubai and I am already having withdrawals. I remember a couple of days before we left for Dubai, I was so scared to travel to the other side of the world without my family or closest friends. I feared traveling to an unfamiliar place with a culture that I was not accustomed to. But after this trip, I realized that breaking out of my familiar shell was exactly what I needed. The memories and experiences that I lived, knowledge I gained, and friends that I made on this trip to Dubai will always hold a special place in my heart.

One of my favorite educational visits was the time we went to the World Expo 2020 Dubai information meeting. Those who presented the layout and blueprints of the World Exposition that is taking place in Dubai in the year 2020 were very informed and knowledgeable about their upcoming project. The information that they presented to us was fascinating; such as the Expo’s theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” and their three sub-themes: Opportunity, Mobility, Sustainability.

We could tell that the presenters had done their background research prior to the presentation because they answered all of the students’ questions, such as questions concerning how the location of the Expo would accommodate so many visitors, how the Expo would affect the flowing traffic of the city, the price of the entrance into the Expo, and so much more.

The hosts were not only knowledgeable but also very hospitable. They greeted and treated all of us very kindly and invited us into a room after the presentation was finished; where we were given complimentary treats and drinks. Overall, the experience was great and it made me want to buy a ticket to the expo right then and there because the presentation was so convincing that the World Expo at Dubai in 2020 was going to be nothing but amazing.

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My absolute FAVORITE attraction however, would have to be the Desert Safari and Dinner Show. I absolutely loved this part of the trip for many reasons. First of all, I have never been to a desert so I was loved the fact that I was able to visit an earth climate that I was not familiar with before. Being able to run and roll around in the sand made me feel as if I was little girl again when I used to play on the beach. Not to mention, being able to see the sunset was breathtaking, and I wish I could relive that moment over and over again.

Second, I have never ridden a camel, so I was thrilled about that first time experience as well. Riding a camel was different from riding a horse as I am used to, but I nonetheless enjoyed it so much and the camel was so adorable! Also, I loved the camp-out area that we were taken to after we were done seeing the sunset in the desert. The area was not only beautiful, but visitors were able to get hennas and smoke hookah. The food was also delicious, and at the end of the night, we were able to stargaze at the sky. The whole experience was just simply magical and I feel that attending this attraction should be a must-do to every tourist who visits Dubai; it really makes you feel like you’re getting the full experience!

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I dreaded writing this post because I knew that this would be the part when I realized that the trip is really over. I can’t even begin to describe how much I miss Dubai. I miss it so much, from the weather to the friendly faces everywhere you go, how everyday was fun-packed, all of our sight and educational presentations, and most of all, my Dubai Mom, Mozhgan. I would do anything to go back and relive those amazing eleven days all over again. I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my entire life. I am so planning on visiting again in two years if the study abroad trip opportunity is again offered!

Dubai: its not a goodbye but a “I’ll see you soon.” Thank you for all of the amazing memories! Xoxo

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Dubai, I miss you !

By Dubai

I am still in jet lag, this trip does not want to end in my head. This was my first study abroad and has been an amazing experience where I got to meet classmates whom I have never seen before, staff that is energetic and knowledgeable, and an amazing tour guide who has stolen my heart away from me.

Dubai has been an unforgettable experience where I wish I could stay for a very long time. Learning from it’s culture and people has got me looking at the world in a very different way.

Being able to be behind the scenes of Atlantis and Burj al Arab was very impacting to me due to my field of study and work. I was over amazed by the customer service and staff in each hotel. Although both hotels are for different occasions, both meet the purpose of satisfying their guests with a final outcome, which is creating a loyal and more than satisfied member. Burj al Arab was a very short visit but being able to step into a suite was more than enough. It made me want to learn more about taking care of rooms like these and what it takes to service a perfect room with such perfect scores. And from Atlantis? Well, Stephanie was very persuasive regarding the work she does and how happy she is with the decision of going to the other side of the world and working for such an amazing hotel. Where can I apply?

Byblos, was a great example for me to what a hotel should not be at any given moment. It is not only about looking pretty in the outside, it is being able to deliver customer service past the short skirts of their employees and the “At Byblos we do not make mistakes and guests check out as friends.” In the future when I get to host a visit in my hotel, I will definitely make sure that everyone is being taken care of and actually speak around the room. It is not enough just being the son of the owner, it is actually about making connections and selling your brand!

Customer service in Dubai had me blown away, and that is something that I will definitely apply in my professional work ethic and make sure my team is providing the output services. At the end of the day, we are here to accommodate them as best and as professional as possible.

Thank you Dubai for teaching me so many great things everyday; my heart is set on you and I will come back one day. IMG_2913IMG_1967

I miss Dubai

By Dubai

Four days ago, when I would look out the window of my amazing hotel room, I would see the Mall of Emirates and when driving I would see the Burj Khalifa. Now when looking out my window in Miami, I see a street and a palm tree and when driving I see a Publix. I miss Dubai so much and my family can tell because that’s all I talked about on Christmas. On the bright side, I’m no longer scared of elevators and I’ve been sleeping for days trying to get my sleeping schedule to match the time change. I’m already saving up money so I could visit Dubai again, although I’m dreading being on a plane for more than 5 hours. The plane ride from Amsterdam to Atlanta was terrifying and I might have developed a fear of flying. The delay at the Atlanta airport was also not the most ideal way to end this amazing trip, but the trip itself made up for it.

My favorite presentation in Dubai was the Nakheel presentation. Although I remember being sleepy because I wasn’t used to the time change, they amazed me with their accomplishments and future plans. We also got to see the model of the islands which was really amazing.  It was even more amazing when we got to go visit the Palm Island on the metro rail and see in real life what they accomplished.

Nakheel has built so much in so little time and has created an amazing reputation. The first thing that I learned about Dubai, 3 years ago, was how it had created man made islands in the shape of a palm. It was incredible to me to hear of such a thing and even more incredible to meet the people behind the creation of it. The presenter talked about how Dubai has the perfect weather for man made islands which is perfect because they could build as many islands as they want without the threat of a tsunami. It’s amazing how Nakheel can build an island in four years and meanwhile Miami is still trying to build Skyrise, which is supposed to be the tallest building in Miami, but its been 2 years and nobody has agreed on the use of the tower. It’s incredible how all the people of Dubai come together to help build more and have Dubai become one of the world’s most popular cities.

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I don’t even know where to begin when talking about the Desert Safari and dinner show – it was just all kinds of crazy. I had no idea what to expect when going to the desert, but listening to loud music on the way and having a funny driver was enough to let me know it would be a fun night. On the way there we were super picky about the music we listened to and kept telling the shot gun passenger to change the music. I find it funny how after we started driving crazily through the dunes we didn’t even notice the music that was playing.  It was the craziest experience I have ever had. I wish I could replay going through the dunes and I wish I wouldn’t have filmed so much and actually enjoyed all of it.

On the way there I also got to see the falcon show and learned how smart the species is and how much they helped the people of Dubai when they would hunt. After crazy driving and great memories of the dunes, we got to the dinner show and the first thing I did was get in the line to ride the camel. I can now say I have ridden a camel and I’ve got the pictures to prove it. The rest of the night was followed by great food and relaxing under the stars.

We also got to relax with the hookahs and for 10 minutes we were able to star gaze. You never really get to see that many stars in Miami and being in the calm desert in total darkness while watching the stars was incredible. Towards the end of the night we all went to get as many hennas as we could, seeing as they were free. I may regret that part because I have been asked many times at work if the drawings on my hands are actual tattoos. That day will forever stay as one of the best days of my life.

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I have created so many great memories on this trip and I have met so many amazing people. It’s only been four days and I already have separation anxiety from our Dubai mom (our tour guide). Going back to my normal life and my boring job is even more depressing when knowing that just a week ago I was having the time of my life with unforgettable people and seeing unforgettable places. Now all I have are pictures of the amazing places of Dubai, which I hope to visit again.

This study abroad trip has influenced my outlook on people and hospitality and how culture influences both. I saw and did so much in just a span of 10 days. I hope to go on many more study abroad programs and experience more places, but I know that Dubai was unique. One of my biggest hopes is to be in Dubai for the 2020 World Expo with some of the students who went on this trip and visit our Dubai mom.






Till we Meet Again Dubai

By Dubai


I don’t even know where to begin. Our trip to Dubai has been beyond amazing and exceeded all my expectations.

I have always taken an interest in tourism and marketing strategies for a tourist destination, so I naturally found the Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing Presentation to be quite fascinating. In this presentation we learned how Dubai has grown in the past few years and what they plan to do to accommodate the World Expo in 2020. I think many of us can agree that this presentation was not only the most informative but also entertaining. Along with the presentation we were able to see how social media plays a huge roll in attracting tourism to the great city of Dubai. Many of us were intrigued at how we can easily connect with other social media users with the use of hashtags that are frequently used in Dubai.

Even though the presentations were enjoyable, nothing, and I mean nothing, was more enjoyable than the Desert Safari and Dinner Show. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is traveling to Dubai. At first I was a but skeptical being that I’m not an outdoors type of person but I loved every minute of the Desert Safari. From the bumpy roller coaster car ride to the relaxing dinner in the middle of the desert.

Both of these experiences enabled me to see different sides of Dubai. From the Desert Safari showcasing a little of how Dubai used to be, to the tourism and marketing presentation showing what Dubai will become, I gained a lot of knowledge about Dubai and it’s past and future. Professionally, I will know to never judge a country based on what the media may portray. I was hesitant about the trip being that media outlets always show so much controversy with culture. I feel more knowledgeable and appreciative of their culture, and I can only dream that other cities will soon follow the footsteps of Dubai and its tourism. Overall it was an amazing trip and I feel truly honored to have gained the information I did and to have traveled to such an evolving city.


Dubai Post-Trip Blog

By Dubai


Hey class! I am finally back home in Miami and still daydreaming of our Dubai experiences. I have been talking nonstop about how much I learned during the course of this trip as well as my desire to return to the city. Our Atlantis presentation was easily one of my favorites, not only because of the beautiful grounds the hotel sits on but also because of the time the recruiting director and FIU alumni spent with us, giving their undivided attention and advice for our future. I learned about Kerzner’s exclusive portfolio and high-end luxury properties as well as what they are looking for in an employee. We also got an inside scoop on Atlantis’ phase 2 project (pictured above), which will be near their resort on the Palm Island and catering to exclusive residences. This educational experience helped me understand what I need to work on for my future interviews and what luxury hotel companies are looking for in an employee.



The most fun attraction for me was definitely Ski Dubai! I shared so many laughs (and screams) with my classmates, which was a fun way to let the children in all of us loose! It was so very cold, especially for me since I have never been in snow, but once the fun started rolling I (almost) forgot all about it 🙂 We enjoyed tubing many times over while there and also had a roll down an ice hill in a bubble ball! We captured many videos which I find myself enjoying now that I am home. I wish I knew how to ski to enjoy that option as well, but I chickened out when I saw how steep the slope was! One of our classmates really enjoyed the skiing adventure so I would surely recommend it to anyone looking to do it.

My cultural knowledge has grown extensively in this short amount of time as well as my global citizenship. I feel closer to the foreign friends I have made both in Dubai as well as my classmates from the trip. I look forward to reuniting with all of them in due time and plan to keep in touch until then.


Overall, this trip was one for the books with everything we experienced and all the incredible opportunities we were afforded. FIU, Dr. Kitterlin, Ms. Fagnan and Arabian Adventures did an excellent job at accomodating such a large group of students from the minute we arrived until we were back safe in Miami. The hotel accomodations surpassed my expectations as well as the attentiveness of our guides and professors. If I wasn’t graduating this Spring semester I’d join in another study abroad in a heartbeat! I hope this post helps encourage any student comtemplating a study abroad program, so if you are reading this hurry and sign up! A huge educational adventure awaits you!

Best Wishes,

Andrea Moreno

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

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