In early February 2017, 32 students traveled to Doha, the capital city of Qatar, as part of the 5th-semester course of their International Management program. The group was headed by Khaldoun Dia-Eddine, Head of the Center for Middle East and Africa Business and Michael Kendzia, Head of the BSc in International Management program at the ZHAW School of Management and Law. The aim of this study trip was to get a deeper understanding of the culture and common business practices of Qatar. This was the second time for an SML study trip to “Go Middle East,” and once again, it was a complete success.
The five-day study trip to Qatar included a diverse program of visits, presentations, encounters, and lessons learned. High-caliber Swiss and Qatari companies opened their doors to the visitors. They included Habegger Productions, ABB, Qatar Airways, Commercial Bank, as well as prominent governmental institutions and organizations such as the Qatar Foundation, the Qatar Science Technology Park including the Shell R&D Center, the New Hamad Port, Manateq, Sidra Hospital, and Silatech. The representatives of these companies – in some cases also recent local graduates the same age as the participants – made themselves available for interesting Q&A sessions. Not only did they offer impressive insights into the business world of the Middle East region, but they also provided true Arabic hospitality in the form of sumptuous refreshments and generous giveaways. Students were able to experience the everyday business practices of Doha and learn more about the opportunities and challenges of doing business in Qatar. This included the first-hand experience of having to skip lunch due to the inevitable traffic jams. The need to be flexible and the capability to adapt quickly to new circumstances were just some of the lessons the students took home from their visit.
An insight to middle eastern culture
Meeting Swiss executives at their traditional “Swiss Stamm,” students were able to engage in a special form of networking that led to interesting discussions and an opportunity to share valuable experiences. This meeting was followed by an invitation by His Excellency, the Swiss Ambassador to Qatar, Etienne Thévoz, to a delicious dinner with members of the Swiss business community in Qatar and SGE (Switzerland Global Enterprise). To learn more about Middle Eastern culture and religion, and to gain a better understanding of related issues, the students joined a tour of the Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zaid Al Mahmoud Islamic Cultural Center (Fanar Qatar Islamic Cultural Center). Thanks to a guide who was knowledgeable as well as funny and charismatic, they fully met their goal. A visit to the Museum of Islamic Arts (focusing on the unique culture and history of the Middle East) was another highlight, not least because of the expert insights provided by Khaldoun Dia-Eddine.
Shopping in Doha’s beautiful souk at the end of the day was the perfect entertainment after a great day, while a rain shower added an unexpected experience in this arid region of the world. As Friday is traditionally a holiday in the Middle East, it is an ideal day for leisure activities. A desert safari with dune-bashing and spectacular sights rounded off an unforgettable week. As the Head of the Center for Middle East and Africa Business, Khaldoun Dia-Eddine was particularly pleased to witness how much students enjoyed learning about culture in the Middle East. Study trips not only have an impact on students but can also help the ZHAW School of Management and Law to position itself in the Middle East region.
For details, please visit the SML International Blog.
Contact: Khaldoun Dia-Eddine, Center for Middle East and Africa Business