My name is Hannah Harnack, and I am an Iowa State University senior in Event Management with a minor in Public Relations. Over winter break, I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Dubai, UAE, through the College of Human Sciences. This program was called Exploring Event Management and Hospitality in the Arabic World, and our travel dates were December 28, 2018, through January 9, 2019. I am so excited to share with you my favorite and most memorable experiences and my overall thoughts on the trip!
My Favorite Memory
In general, I am amazed by the beauty of architecture, especially old monuments and uniquely designed buildings. While doing a little pre-departure research on Dubai, I knew I was going to see some incredible architecture. But, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is the most beautiful place I have ever visited. Pictures simply do not do this place justice! The words I use to describe the mosque to my family and friends are serene, peaceful, unimaginable, and ethereal; even when I replay the memories of the scene, I hear nothing but quiet. The all white marble, giant domes covered in gold accents, huge chandeliers, the beautiful rug in the prayer room... I could list on and on the amazing sights from this mosque. During our tour, we were led into the giant prayer room. I was amazed by the 99 flowers on the wall with the names that they call "Allah", or God, written in Arabic. We even sat in the women’s prayer room during the evening prayer. The afternoon transitioned into evening during our time at the mosque, and the lights illuminated the beauty of the domes and columns just like the sunshine. I was sad when our time came to leave, and we had to return our long sleeve covers. I will forever remember this visit and the pure beauty and architecture of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. I cannot wait to visit again!
The Educational Memory
While being a tourist was very fun, we did learn quite a bit about the hospitality and event industry while we were in Dubai. Before our visit at the Five Hotel, I did not think I would enjoy working in the hotel industry. Our visit definitely altered my ideas about the industry and overall hotel employee environment. The Five Hotel was built in 2017, and already moved themselves to #42 on Booking.com. That's incredible, and they couldn't have done that without putting their customers and employees first from the beginning. The target market for The Five was 25-40 year olds, and you can tell. The pool and beach club area was a big party, and we saw the rooftop views from their bar and lounge. What a gorgeous sunset! I will not be surprised to find in a year that they have moved even closer to #1 hotel in Dubai, or just even in the Palm area. They offered an amazing internship deal, and I might just have to check it out after graduation.
Dubai, You Have My Heart
This was my first time traveling overseas, but it most definitely won't be my last. Being in a large city, surrounded by different people, immersed in a completely new culture, and traveling and experiencing new places were all things I discovered I love. Twelve days of doing all of the above was not enough time! The people of Dubai were so welcoming, and I cannot wait to go back and see how different the city is after just a few years. My goal is to go visit the site of the Expo 2020, and see how their new city is thriving! Thank you CHS and CIEE for making this trip possible. A trip and friendships I will never forget.
Hannah Harnack 2019