Dune Bashing and Dancing in the Arabian Desert

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By: Nikita Jeswani, Smith School MBA Candidate
January 11, 2018

Our last day of business visits commenced with a trip to check out the developing Expo 2020 site, a soon-to-be festival of human ingenuity centered around “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.” The event will be organized into three main sections: opportunity, mobility, and sustainability.

Next, we headed to Dell Inc., located in Internet City, one of Dubai’s free zones. Smith ‘03 alumni Basil Ayass and his colleague, Shams Hasan, shared their perspective on working in Dubai as an expat for an American tech company. Because the UAE is a relatively new country, it experiences the leapfrog effect – adopting the latest technology without being limited by legacy infrastructure. “Innovation isn’t about inventing in manufacturing, engineering, etc. It’s about the storytelling and how you can push and pull,” said Ayass, highlighting UAE’s most used mobile applications: Souq, originally an Amazon copy and now an Amazon company, and Careem, an Uber competitor.

Cultural Insight

Smith students wrapped up the day with a desert safari, enjoying the ups and downs of dune bashing, camel riding, and belly dancing. FT-CP student Shea Holmes and PT-DC student Jaclyn Walkins were “voluntold” by performers to partake in cultural dance and graciously embraced the Bedouin activity by whirling in the desert sand. Tanoura, or skirt, refers to a form of Egyptian folkloric dance typically performed by Sufis, who spin continuously similar to dervish dancers.

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