90 Days!

Since March 2013, when the students last posted on this blog, we took two more groups to the United Arab Emirates. Currently to date 62 students, in 3 groups, have been able to experience the magnificence of the UAE. We have offered the course Iconic Dubai, nearly every semester since the first trip in 2013. From unparalleled hospitality to the captivating architecture, the miles of malls and endless buffets, the 12 day itinerary highlights the entire spectrum of what the United Arab Emirates has to offer. The itinerary for all three groups remained nearly identical, but the ambitions, interests, and passions of each student made each trip powerfully unique. Sadly , to publish in the blog was not made part of the last few courses, but it has now returned.

More importantly, in four weeks students start classes for Spring Semester and another group of 21 students and staff will be headed to Dubai in March 2015. Airfare, hotels, tours and restaurants are all booked! The course and lectures are about to begin and the anticipation is building.  Join us in 90 days when we go again.  -Matthew Dunham


It had a sort of “Sting” to it!!

All I knew of Ferrari World before we had arrived was that they would have the “World’s Fastest Roller Coaster” within a building full of Ferraris. As I had been in the UAE a few days, I would not have believed any less to be true.

As we received our tickets for admission, the brave ones rushed to this “World’s Fastest” or as she is more commonly known, the Formula Rossa. The ride left little in question as we watched group after group go from zero to buzz-lightyear in a blink of an eye. Alas, I must say the ride was incredibly fast but very short lived.

As minds will, ours drifted to another form of sheer adrenaline inducing fun. Earlier in the day, we had noticed a gokart track within the YAS Raceway complex. We had been so fixated on the roller coasters that we had forgotten to manage enough time to fit in a gokart session, but we went anyway.

We arrived at the track and could not get in the karts soon enough. After a brief rules meeting, we promised not to drive too aggressively 🙂 and we went out to the race track. As we were awaiting the green-light, I couldnt help but hear a concert going on in the distance. I was correct, because Sting was holding a concert on the other side of the nearby Ferrari World complex.

As the green light came closer, I could feel Sting channeling to me a message in a bottle. This message read, you must drift every corner, ride high, turn low, and ram any car that comes in your line. I took Sting’s advice and the race was on…. Apparently, Sting has never met my good friend Zach Johnson as he easily defeated all of us on his way to a first place finish.

YAS Island, its speedways, Ferrari World, the gokarts, and Sting made for one great evening. We were terribly late and nearly cost the class a trip to the Viceroy motel, but as our guide Tony so elegantly put it, “If you had fun, who cares.”Image


The Dubai Marina is the largest man-made marina in the world, and has become known as the heart of “New Dubai”, once complete, it will be the ultra-chic place to live for young urbanites.  It offers an array of high-end shops, recreational activities, and restaurants to enjoy.  Strategically situated off Sheikh Zayed Road – like pretty much everything else, somewhat confusing – , it provides quick and easy access to the main entertainment the city of Dubai has to offer.

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Infinity Twisting Tower is a 306 meters (1,004 ft.) tall 76 story skyscraper under construction in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The tower is designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill SOM architectural group, the same group who built the Burj Khalifa also in Dubai and Trump Tower in Chicago. When completed it will become world’s tallest high rise building with a twist of 90˚.

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View of The Marina from the other side of the port with a plethora of outdoor restaurants.

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Quinn & Alex waiting on the dancing fountains to start…

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Interactive Water / Sound feature of the Marina.

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With an estimated total population of 75,000, Dubai Marina comprises of several residential towers, shopping centers  hotels including The Address, Dubai Marina, and leisure amenities complementing the marina experience which is highly sought after in Dubai.

Dubai Marina Walk, which lines the waterfront, has a selection of cosmopolitan restaurants that will cater to every taste, apart from several cafes that open to the sea. Perched on the water’s edge, the Dubai Marina mall will have 160 stores offering an eclectic mix of luxury fashion, fine dining, specialty stores and entertainment.


Here is an idea to what the currency looks like in the United Arab Emirates [UAE].  The currency is known as ‘Dirhams’ and the exchange rate compared to the U.S. dollar is about 3.65 [AED] = $1.00 [USD].


A Shout-out to Gulf Ventures


A shout out to “Gulf Ventures” and their team; Susan George, Kamaal Ahmed, Ian Nazareth, Manoj Thomas, Anthony and Fazal. You are all incredible both behind the scenes and in front as our guide in Abu Dhabi and Fazal as our driver every day. Their organization, timeliness, safari dune bashing dinner, and Dubai Dhow Cruise dinner was incredible. It was a joy for each of us to have such friendly and helpful staff on the ground in the UAE to lead us around! Our trip was completely enlightened by your team!!



Wet and Wild at Wadi Waterpark


(who doesn’t love alliterations?)

One of the, seemingly endless, perks that we received from staying through the Jumeirah Beach Hotel was our unlimited access to the Wild Wadi Waterpark. Wild Wadi is a world renowned waterpark for its fantastic slides, the 59′ waterfall, and its’ heated/cooled wave pool. All of this in combination with several eateries, gift shops, and the ever present Burj Al Arab in the background, sure makes for one fantastic place for us to cool off for the day. With enough attractions to keep us having fun and enjoying our surroundings for the entire afternoon, it was tough to have to settle for swimming in our regular “executive” pool the rest of the time. 😉