Pitching a Big Venture Idea: Mega-Projects in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

By: Kavanaugh Livingston, a Part Time MBA Ambassador & Part Time MBA Student at the DC campus

The Robert H. Smith School of Business develops a global curriculum for its students in the classroom and beyond. Every Spring semester, students across the Smith school participate in a several-month course and a week-long trip to a country or region of their choosing to learn about the local business, investment, and regulatory environments. During the trip, students visited local and multinational companies, government agencies, and cultural and natural sites.

I had the opportunity to participate in the Doing Business in the Middle East – UAE Mega Projects Management class as part of the Smith’s MBA Global Business Course. Supported by the Smith Office of Global Initiatives, the Global Business Course helps expose to and prepare students for a globally-focused workplace.

Kavanaugh in Palm Jumeirah.

I chose to participate in the UAE course to learn more about a part of the world that was unfamiliar to me, and to have the opportunity to develop a venture that I could “pitch” in a simulated environment. As part of this project, we recently pitched for startup funds to build the Alfada World consortium. In the spirit of the course’s mega-project focus, my group and I decided to pitch a unique and groundbreaking private, joint venture that will build and operate a space-themed amusement park and space camp for Middle Eastern youth. Alfada World or “outer space” in Arabic, showcases Dubai’s heritage and complements its enthusiasm for grand and first-of-its-kind projects. The venture also seeks to highlight Dubai’s innovative and futuristic ambitions, and advance its economic, national space program, and Mars colonization visions.

As one of the seven Emirates in the UAE, Dubai has moved its economy from its dependence on oil over the past few decades. Less than 1% of its GDP derives from the oil and gas industry, and the Emirate has invested significantly over the past few decades in developing an economy based on trade, knowledge, and tourism. Alfada World combines tourism, entertainment, technology, space, and investments in youth to help Dubai further transform economy at the cross-roads of the world.

Kavanaugh pitching Alfada World

My group received praise and helpful feedback to strengthen the venture idea. Who knows — maybe we can turn the idea into reality, especially since the global course has helped us become globally-aware future business leaders with much more developed financial analysis, creativity, collaborative, and pitching skills.

I recommend any current and prospective Smith student to consider participating in a global course. Smith offers scholarships to help reduce the additional cost of participating in the course and trip. So, what are you waiting for? I hope to see you on an airplane to the UAE next Spring!