Sunday, March 14, 2010


DAY 2:

Today, we started with a trip to the American University in Dubai- our hosts on this trip. We met with the AUD President, Dr. Lance de Masi, who talked about what makes the university American. According to Dr. de Masi, the school has an American approach to education, which is apparently unique. Public universities in Dubai are government run and free. AUD is one of several private universities. With 3,000 students, it is a tiny school in comparison to USC. The students come from all different countries and backgrounds, which is obvious by the various dress- burqas to sundresses. I guess I really could've packed anything. Many of the international students are sent to school in Dubai, while their parents work elsewhere. AUD only offers undergraduate programs for now, with the exception of their MBA program. The school is pretty westernized, as is the rest of Dubai, as I later discovered. I find myself almost disappointed that it doesn't feel more Middle Eastern- whatever that means. Though I have been told that the other Emirates are less Western.

Next, we visited the American Consul General of Dubai. As it happened, the Public Affairs officer that escorted us was a good friend of my mentor at the State Department this summer- small world indeed. The Consul General spoke of the close relationship the United Arab Emirates has with the U.S. -- a relationship that is only getting stronger under the Obama administration. Large numbers of Emirates study in the US, which is great for public diplomacy. The two countries cooperate in both oil interests and national security. After all, US companies, primarily those in Texas, built Dubai’s oil infrastructure. There are 750-900 US companies in Dubai, many being the top fortune five companies. In terms of corporate diplomacy -- basically the role of corporations in foreign policy -- these companies seem aware of their brand image as a US brand in a Middle Eastern country.

The UAE, with its main political hub in Abu Dhabi, is becoming increasingly important in international relations. However, because it is so small – it only has 6 million people in all 7 Emirates, (much less than the city of LA and Saudi Arabia, which has 24 million) – the UAE has to be careful about its alliances. Iran, in particular, is its greatest threat. In some instances it is good for the country to be seen as close to the US. From what I have learned so far, it seems the UAE is a very unique Middle Eastern country. It is both Islamic and not democratic – being run by a network of royal families – but is very modern, open and friendly with the US. I can’t wait to see more…

No comments: