Week 2 in Dubai

Submitted by Ryan Kahn on the 2024 Winter CIEG program in Dubai…

Viewpoint at the Museum of the Future

Week 2 in Dubai was just as packed as the first week. We started the second week by heading into old Dubai. While in old Dubai we went to eat lunch at the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding. This was a traditional Arabic meal and it was amazing, we learned about local customs and cultures while at the center, it was an incredible experience. It was also really cool seeing the old building of Dubai with the new and modern city skyline in the background. While in the old city, we went to all the different Souks in the area (open markets). We mainly explored the Gold, Spice, and Clothing Souks. 

Another big excursion this week was going to Museum of the Future. This was one of the most spectacular places I have ever been to. The building looks like it is not from Earth, it is so beyond futuristic and it really hard to even wrap your brain around. The museum inside is fascinating, as it talks about Dubai’s vision 50 years in the future. It was an impressive experience that I highly recommend for everyone to go to if you come to Dubai. 

Overall, this week was amazing. Besides the two excursions I mentioned above, we continued to explore the city both during the day and at night. We continued to bond with each other and of course, we got nice and tan on the beach! I can not believe we have been here for almost 2 weeks and I can not wait for what the final 3 weeks have in store! (Submitted on January 14, 2024)

Week 1 in Dubai

Submitted by Jacqueline Kumbatovic on the 2024 Winter CIEG program in Dubai, UAE…

Our first week in Dubai has been the most incredible experience. We arrived on Wednesday, January 3 after a long 12.5 hour flight, eager to explore the city. These past seven days have been filled with class, excursions, food, and more. In class, we have begun to learn about engineering project management and international construction. We have visited JBR Ain Dubai, Miracle Garden and Butterfly Garden, Dubai Frame, Emirates Mall, the Marina on a Dhow Dinner cruise, Dubai Camel Racing Club, Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, Souq shops, and Museum of the Future. It is fascinating to talk to people of different cultural backgrounds, eat the local food, and explore the area around us. (Submitted on January 11, 2024)

Diving Right In

Submitted by Ryan Kahn on the 2024 Winter CIEG program in Dubai…

Dubai Miracle Garden

On January 3rd, I touched down in Dubai, honestly not knowing what to expect. After being here for only 1 week, I can safely say it has been one of the most incredible and life-changing weeks of my life. As a program, we have already done so much as well as learned so much in the classroom through our two courses; Engineering Project Management and International Construction. For this first blog, I want to talk about 3 excursions that really stood out to me during this first week of being abroad.

The first excursion I want to mention is more so of an exploration. Coming into this trip I was expecting Dubai to be a lot of dessert and not as much water. I knew there were beautiful beaches, but that was what I thought the extent of water was going to be, boy was I wrong. In between all the beautiful buildings, the Dubai Marina runs through the majority of the city. The Marina allows boats to dock at buildings and restaurants, in addition, the marina has walking paths along either side. Exploring the beaches and Marina and looking at all the incredible buildings along the way has been an awesome aspect of my Dubai experience thus far.

My second excursion from my first week was being able to see and explore the Dubai Frame. The Dubai Frame is a spectacular feat of engineering, but also has a really interesting meaning. The Frame is just under 500 ft tall and is literally a giant frame. As you can see in the picture, the top of the frame has a glass floor in which you can look down below, which was pretty scary. The frame is placed in between old Dubai and new Dubai. So when you are on the old side of the frame you can look into the future, and when you are on the new side of the frame, you can look into the past, which I thought was a really cool concept. Overall though, the building is incredible to look at and I am so happy I got to travel to the top and take in all the beautiful

My third excursion that stood out to me was going to Dubai’s Micale Garden. This was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The park is filled with massive sculptures made out of flowers and greenery. It smelled incredible and everywhere you looked I had to just take out my phone for a picture.

Overall, I had an incredible first week here in Dubai, I highlighted 3 activities in this blog, but the list goes on and on of all the incredible places and things we have done thus far on this trip. I can not wait for the next 4 weeks and to share more of my experience! (Submitted on January 9, 2024)

Dubai Week 1

Submitted by John Kaminski on the 2024 Winter CIEG program in Dubai…

My first week in Dubai began on Wednesday January 3rd when I landed in Dubai international airport. However, even though it was an abbreviated week, it was extremely action packed. Starting off by exploring the beautiful Jumeirah region of Dubai, with its amazing architecture and scenic beaches. We also journeyed to the Souk Madinat Jumeirah, which is a massive marketplace full of regional goods and souvenirs. Additionally, we explored some of the nature that Dubai had to offer, including the Dubai Miracle Garden, which is the world’s largest natural flower garden, along with the Dubai Butterfly Garden, which is the world’s largest indoor butterfly sanctuary. The final major excursion of the week was a trip to the Dubai Frame, which is a massive picture frame shaped structure, which also doubles as a massive observation deck with amazing views of the city. To finish off the week, we relaxed on the beach and watched an awesome firework and drone show on the Jumeirah beach. I am excited for the weeks to come and very thankful for UD Study abroad for this amazing opportunity. (Submitted on January 9, 2024)

United Arab Emirates: Laughter and Singing

Submitted by Boris Manjic on the 2022 winter session program in the United Arab Emirates sponsored by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering…

The group started the week by going to Arabia’s Wildlife Centre and indulged in a side of Dubai we haven’t seen before. Within the reserve, there were a multitude of animals including birds, monkeys, wolves, cheetah, and way more. My favorite exhibit was by far the baboons since they acted so much like humans did. We stayed there for at least thirty minutes just laughing because of their goofy behavior.


















After finishing up there, we went to Global Village, which in my opinion, was a much better experience than Expo. They had many countries there and we got to see what each had to offer within their markets. I ended up buying a cashmere scarf for pretty cheap and Mike/Matt/Scott got Damascus steel dancing knives. The best experience there was watching Brendon go into Syria and purchase traditional clothing and start walking around the market. Every person started bowing and calling him “Mashal al-Assad”, who is the current king of Syria. Everyone was so cheerful and our group was dying laughing at how much it was being said.

A few days later, the group went to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and we got to see the best views of Dubai; including a beautiful sunset. Once we finished there, we ate at a Lebanese restaurant under the Burj and got to experience the fountain show. The hummus was delectable and the show was also the best I have ever seen.
Finally, during one of our “Expo days” we all went to see the Black Eyed Peas perform at the Al Wasl stage. There were thousands of people there and I am positive our group was the most hyped as we were screaming and dancing to every song. It was a great bonding experience for us all and not one person regretted it. I’m so grateful for this week as the group’s friendship tightened and I hope we can get even closer next week.

United Arab Emirates: Emirate Hospitality

Submitted by Erin Potter on the 2022 winter session program in the United Arab Emirates sponsored by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering…

One of the most exciting things we did this week was visiting the Sheik Muhammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCC). Since being in Dubai I have seen super modern cities filled with foods and shops from around the world. However, I have been wanting to learn more about Emirati culture which is why I was excited to hear we were visiting the SMCC. We started out the day sitting in a traditional Emirati home; the main gathering space consisted of a large rug surrounded by thirty pillows for us to sit on. I learned that sitting on the floor for meals is often done due to the amount of people eating. Typically, an Emirati home could hold as many as 30 people so it is much easier to eat on the floor rather than having a table to hold that many people.

We also got to visit a mosque on the tour and learn about the Islamic religion. We had to cover our hair by wearing a hijab and wear modest clothes. We learned about the five pillars of Islam including Ramadan and the five prayers conducted every day. It was a great opportunity to ask any questions we had about being Muslim; the tour guides were encouraging us to ask a lot of questions and were eager to teach us. The tour finished off with a typical Emirati meal where we ate things like vegetable saloona and lugaimat. Lugaimat is a desert dish consisting of fried dough balls with date syrup drizzled on top. After the meal, we were served Arabic coffee and we learned that if you want more coffee, you hold out your glass and if you do not want any more, you shake your glass. It is traditional that the youngest member of the household serves the coffee. We also learned that you are not supposed to fill up the coffee cup all the way to the top; since the cups do not have handles, if it is filled to the top it will spill on the guest and is a sign that you want them to finish quickly and leave. It was a really amazing day learning about traditional Emirati culture, and I cannot wait to learn more throughout the program!

A windcatcher which is an architectural element used to naturally cool a house

Exterior of the mosque

Lunch spread

United Arab Emirates: Best Week of My Life

Submitted by Boris Manjic on the 2022 winter session program in the United Arab Emirates sponsored by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering…

The second week in Dubai was somehow even more fun than our first week. It started with the entire group enjoying a meal at a Syrian restaurant that our TA, Waleed, recommended. Here, we ate a “mixed meat grill” and the best hummus I have ever tasted. On top of the great food, the service was impeccable. I am not exaggerating when I say the second I put a napkin down, the waiter came to pick it up immediately.  It was the absolute best service I have ever received and probably will ever receive. The following day, Dr. Small took us on a nature tour in the Green Planet Indoor Wildlife Reserve. Here, we saw over 30 species of birds, monkeys, and even bats. The enclosure was beautiful and I have never seen anything like it before as even the temperature/humidity was mimicking a real rainforest.

On the 14th, I had the best time of my life. Dr. Small took us out to the desert, which was a complete change to the extreme city life of Dubai I have been experiencing. We started by getting traditional Emirati clothing, kandoras and ghuṭrahs, and prepared to go in 4×4 vehicles. We stopped at the top of a sand dune and stayed till sunset. There, we got the most beautiful views of the terrain and had a wholesome experience as a group. Right after sunset, we went to a camp where we got to see fire dancing, belly dancing, and the traditional tanoura dance. Once the dances finished, we had a buffet which had the most traditional food we’ve seen so far. Everything included rice and some sort of meat/sauce.

On the 17th, Dr. Small took us to a camel race. This was the most unique event we attended since I haven’t even seen any camels prior to this program and now we got to see well over
200. The event was sort of like a horse race, but instead of human jockeys there were robots controlling the camel’s speed. The race was also extremely long and the average time to complete one was fourteen minutes. This was a once in a lifetime experience only available in select countries.

Finally, on the 18th we went to the Sheikh Mohammed Cultural Center and learned cultural differences between the U.S, and the UAE. For example, sons/daughters get married by the decision of their parents and not by the choice of their own will. It is widely accepted in the UAE, but was a culture shock for me. After we finished, we went to the Miracle Gardens, where there were the most species of flowers I have ever seen. They even had a life-sized model of the A380 plane completely covered in plants. It was such a pleasing experience and I wish we had more places like this in the United States

Overall, the best week of my life and I hope next week can live up to what we did this week.

United Arab Emirates: The NASCAR of the Desert

Submitted by Erin Potter on the 2022 winter session program in the United Arab Emirates sponsored by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering…

One thing that I did not expect to see while in Dubai was camel races. In America, it is common for people to spend their weekends at local horse races so when Professor Small told us we were going to camel races, I did not believe it! I had always thought that camels were slow and relaxed, but I soon learned that they could run 8km (~5 miles) in 10 minutes! When we arrived at the camel races there were hundreds of camels lined up for various heats. Unlike the United States, betting is illegal in Dubai so the people that go to watch the races are doing so for enjoyment. A small robot jockey is placed on top of every camel to encourage it to keep running, multiple cars full of screaming people who control the jockeys follow the camels along the 8km track. The jockeys also have a walkie talkie so that the owners can communicate commands to their camel. The jockeys used to be small children, but the UAE wanted to move forward with technology to make the races safer; the UAE worked with UNICEF in 2002 to become the first nation to ban underage jockeys.

The camel racing track is not a small circle, but rather a long and winding track. We originally started watching at the start, but then crossed over to the finish line; we even got to try camel milk while we watched. It was also surprising to learn how much a camel can cost. A typical camel can cost $55,000, but winning camels can sell for up to $30 million! The owner also must spend at least $1,000 per month to take care of the camel so winning the prize money is super important. This was such a unique and valuable thing to experience!

United Arab Emirates: Arabian Hospitality

Submitted by Ben Horney on the 2022 winter session program in the United Arab Emirates sponsored by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering…

My second week in Dubai was as exciting as the first. I am slowly acclimating to the Emirati¹ culture and recognizing my place in Dubai. Here, I am a guest who is treated very well. Hospitality is common practice in all Arab countries.

My classmates, TAs, professor, and I went on a desert safari that in my opinion, epitomized the welcoming Arabian way. In summary, we first caravanned through the desert in Land Cruisers with our thoughtful drivers who made a pitstop to ensure that we could watch the sun set over the desert dunes² . Then, we made our way to a camp where the tour group showcased different cultures within the Arab world. The night consisted of performances and food. I was intrigued by the Tanoura dance (an Egyptian folk dance according to Google) and I was impressed by the food, which included shawarma and falafel.

I could go on and on about the desert safari, but I would like to get to the point: I am appreciative that Arabs are excited to share their culture! They are passionate and respectful hosts, and I would be remiss if I did not comment on their genuine behavior.

¹An Emirati is a United Arab Emirates (UAE) national. Dubai is one of the seven Emirates in the UAE.
²I read that many nationals go to the desert to escape city life and reconnect with their ancestral roots.

United Arab Emirates: World Expo

Submitted by Erin Potter on the 2022 winter session program in the United Arab Emirates sponsored by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering…

Over the past week in Dubai I have been exposed to so many different cultures; what makes Dubai so unique is that it is home to people from all over the world. Only 20% of the population in Dubai are Emiratis, which means that most of the population is made of expatriates (people residing in their non-native country). I was surprised to see the amount of international food in Dubai; it is not uncommon to see Mexican restaurants located next to Chinese restaurants with Arabic restaurants across the street. I have enjoyed getting to talk to people from around the world from countries like Syria, Italy, Great Britain, and many others.

Another amazing part of this experience has been going to the World Expo. The World Expo is a large event held every five years that showcases various countries’ accomplishments and cultures around the world. This year it is being held in Dubai, so we are lucky to be able to attend this amazing event; the next World Expo is in Japan in 2025. I have been stopping in the exhibits of many different countries and have gotten the opportunity to talk to people around the world and learn about their lives. For instance, we went to Nauru which is the smallest island nation in the world. While in their exhibit, I learned a lot about their culture; before attending Expo, I had never even heard of Nauru, but now I know so much about it. I have visited over 25 different countries so far and I look forward to attending even more! I am so excited to see where the rest of this journey will take me and to learn more about Dubai and the rest of the world!

Dome located at the center of the World Expo in Dubai

Country of Oman’s Expo exhibit