Dubai—the city of the future—boasts the world’s tallest building, largest shopping mall and largest indoor ski resort (an especially remarkable feat considering the country is essentially a desert).
During the weekend of January 10 to 14, students studying Arabic at Middle East University (MEU), along with several staff, traveled to this futuristic city in the United Arab Emirates for an excursion. This trip, which is part of the academic program, allowed them to spend four days and three nights in the city. Arriving on Thursday morning, they were able to begin seeing the sights right away.
After checking into the hotel, the group took the metro to see the Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates. As the world’s largest mall, based on total area, Dubai Mall features a walk-through aquarium tunnel and a small zoo. An indoor ski-resort is located inside the Mall of the Emirates. A prime view of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, is also available from directly outside the mall.
A particularly enjoyable part of the trip was on Friday when students visited a shopping area near the Burj Al Arab and later went on an all-afternoon desert safari. A trained driver took the group off-road driving over the desert sands and then brought them to an outdoor outpost. There, the group had the opportunity to join many other tourists for free camel rides, a live cultural performance, food, warm drinks and other traditional activities.
Reflecting on the safari experience, Arabic Language student Sigorney Creighton from Southern Adventist University, TN, said, “After the desert safari ride as we sat on the pillows eating . . . I looked up and saw the sky was starlit . . . and realized how far God has brought me.”
After attending church Saturday morning, the trip continued at Global Village, which features elaborate compounds that reflect the national heritage of various countries. Within each structure there were cultural markets showcasing native products as well as live performances showcasing cultural dances and music.
Brett Daniel Hayes, Arabic Language student from Pacific Union College, CA particularly enjoyed this experience saying, “The highlight of the trip for me was visiting the global village. After a full afternoon and evening spent there, I felt as though I'd sort of traveled all over the world.”
On the final day in Dubai, the group visited Ibn Battuta mall, the world’s largest themed mall which highlights the cultural adventures of the famed Arabic explorer, before heading to the airport to return to Lebanon. Creighton stated, “Dubai was all that I hoped.”
International travel is one of the key components of the ACA program and MEU enthusiastically supports this aim for its ACA students, thereby providing them with first-hand experiences of other places and cultures.
MEU began the Arabic Language Program this academic year in conjunction with Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA). Students from a consortium of Seventh-day Adventist schools in North America and Australia have the opportunity to participate in ACA programs in order to learn various world languages at affiliated campuses throughout the world. At MEU, students have the opportunity to spend a year studying Arabic through the program.
An integral part of the program is cultural immersion. Throughout the first semester, students in the program have been taking various trips within Lebanon in order to better understand Middle Eastern culture and to provide cultural context for their developing language skills. The most recent trip to Dubai was a continuation of these outings.
For more information about ACA, visit: www.aca-noborders.com
For more information about the Arabic program at MEU, click here.
Written by Jason Lemon
Photos by Jason Lemon