United Arab Emirates offers ethnic immersion, entrepreneurship opportunities for Laura Rauscher
Brazilian citizen and senior AmeriStudent international student Laura Rauscher is a first-year Feather reporter.
Dubai, considered the wealthiest city of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE), originated as a “land of sand”. The city became rich when oil was found in 1966 and leaders jumped on the opportunity to expand and invest their money in tourism.
Dubai is one of the few cities in the Middle East that is open to welcoming tourists. However, it must be noted that with the allowance comes the responsibility to be sensitive to the Islamic ways that dominate much of Dubai’s culture.
When equality is mentioned, most people believe that women in Middle Eastern countries don’t have the same rights as a men. This is demonstrated in the ways that women wear clothes that hide their hair and skin.
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Gap report, the UAE is ranked as a leading country in gender equality in the region. Despite various restrictions on outward appearances, there is a prominent belief that women and men are equal partners in society. Through a combination of public and private sector initiatives, women are incorporated into the business, military and government of the area.
Dubai accepts a more modern concept and doesn’t have as harsh of discrimination with women as the other Middle Eastern countries.
Concerned on what to bring and how to behave in Dubai, I asked my sister Bruna Rauscher, who had traveled already to Dubai in the past, what I should expect. We both went to the desert city for the same purpose: to participate in the Gulfood Conference in February 2020.
Bruna said that even women tourists should take care how they behave in front of the UAE society. Conforming to certain traditions shows respect throughout their culture and religion.
“You must dress conservatively,” Bruna said. “Try not to show your shoulder, stay in groups or pairs especially after dark and avoid making eye contact with men. Don’t take pictures of Muslim women and avoid bars, clubs or hotels where prostitutes are.”
According to Lonely Planet, “It’s hard not to admire Dubai for its indefatigable verve, ambition and ability to dream up and realize projects that elsewhere would never get off the drawing board. This is a superlative-craving society that has birthed audaciously high buildings and palm-shaped islands. Sci-fi concepts such as flying taxis, a lightning-fast Hyper-loop train and an army of robocops are all reflections of a mindset that fearlessly embraces the future.”
When I arrived at the airport, I was able to see a variety of cultures and people dressing in different ways. I realized Dubai is certainly not very strict with how tourists dress, making me feel more relaxed. I did pack conservative clothes, just to be sure.
The next morning I wanted to visit a tourist spot that was highly recommend: the Al Maha desert. Me and four other people boarded a car with a tourist operator where he explained to us the fun facts about Dubai and it’s historical parts before we arrived in the desert.
Many people joined the excursion before we entered the nearby desert. The car rides were extremely fun; I loved floating over the sand and, at times, it was like a rollercoaster ride. Before we got into the main area of the desert, we made three stops where we took pictures at sunset. When we got to the main destination, they provided us a bedouin dinner, camel rides, sand board, henna tattoos and traditional entertainment.
I had a great vacation, but the purpose of this trip was to work for my dad by promoting his coffee booth at the Gulfood Conference. I was able to meet successful businesses and make my own business while I was there. The prince and the sheikh of Dubai went into the exposition and having them there was absolutely beyond belief.
At Gulfood I could the see the representation of women’s power as they are strongly successful and independent in what they do. Seeing them all there and being able to join in had a big impact on me, especially in a country where the women have restricted rights.
While I was in Dubai I also enjoyed some free time. I was able to visit the biggest building in the world called Burj Khalifa. It has a total of 163 floors and is 2,717 feet tall. Not only is it considered the tallest building in the world, but it is also the tallest free-standing structure in the world, has the highest number of stories in the world, highest occupied floor in the world, highest outdoor observation deck in the world and elevator with the longest travel distance in the world.
Right in front of Burj Khalifa there is the Khalifa water fountain which is the biggest water fountain show in the world that includes music. I went during the evening presentation which happens from 6-11 p.m. every 30 minutes.
There are restaurants and the biggest mall in the world (Dubai Mall) surrounded by this environment. Sitting and relaxing right in front of the world’s tallest building and shopping in the world’s biggest mall is definitely a experience that I won’t ever forget. Is seems like a magical place similar to Disneyland, but it is a reality.
When traveling to Dubai Creek, considered the Old Dubai, I could see the real people and not the luxury and fantasy Dubai provides for the tourist. In my opinion, when I visit a different place, I like seeing the real parts, where it shows the real struggle and historic parts of the places.
Even though Dubai Creek didn’t look as modern the main tourist parts of Dubai, it still a very beautiful place compared to the poor areas in other cities. While in Dubai Creek, I found it to be the best place to buy souvenirs and some cute gifts to bring a little bit of Dubai back home.
Walking through Dubai City, I experienced how a desert turned out to be such a developed and luxury city; it’s unreal. At night I saw those giant buildings lit up and the marina below was something I didn’t expected at all. Seeing the local people talk and have different customs allowed me to have a different perspective on different nationalities and the values of people who can live in harmony.
For Rauscher’s previous article, read Amazon fires continue to destroy rich Brazil biome or visit her Feather profile.
Laura Rauscher can be reached via Twitter.
The slideshow below includes images from Rauscher’s trip to Dubai for the Gulfood Conference in February 2020.
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