From 13-20 September, 16 Westminster undergraduate students had the chance to explore the professional environment of Dubai as part of the inaugural Dubai Westminster Working Cultures programme.
Throughout their time in Dubai, the students met with a number of Westminster alumni and partners to learn about the professional landscape in this iconic business hub in the Middle East. From exploring urban planning, the technology sector and Expo2020 to a visit to a Coca-Cola bottling plant, the group received excellent insights and advice on what it takes to have a successful career in a buzzing city like Dubai.
This trip was made possible by the generous funding support from Santander Universities. The Westminster Working Cultures programme, funded by The Quintin Hogg Trust, is designed to enhance Westminster students’ employability, giving them the opportunity to travel abroad and experience the professional environment and culture in cities across the globe. The programme involves meeting with professionals from different sectors, including digital technology and education and culture. The visit was led by members of the Alumni and Careers teams at the University.
The group visited the Coca-Cola bottling plant just outside Dubai. Tarek Abdelrhman, Legal Practice LLM graduate and Regional Counsel and Ethics Officer at Coca-Cola Bottling Group, coordinated a day of learning, exploring and cultural exchange through talks about the heritage and legacy of the company. Students met Mohamed Akeel, Managing Director, who shared inside knowledge about what it takes to successfully navigate the recruitment process at Coca-Cola Bottling Group.
Students also had the opportunity to meet Syema Ahmad, Computer Science BSc graduate, who hosted the group at Emirates NBD where she works as a Scrum Master. She shared her path to Dubai and how she always continues to push herself to achieve everything she can. Syema said: “So wonderful to be a part of the first Westminster Working Cultures Programme in Dubai! [I’m] so excited to see these students make their positive mark in the workplace.”
William Baring and Jignesh Dholkia, graduates of the Urban Design MA course, welcomed the group to Stantec International. They shared the opportunities and challenges of working in Dubai, gave an insight into what it is like to design an entire community and encouraged the students to explore the ethos of companies to find the right fit.
Maha Bin Hendi, Law LLB Honours graduate and Managing Partner at Maha Bin Hendi Law Firm, spoke to the group about how she found herself studying Law at Westminster. Maha and her colleagues gave an overview of the important differences between the legal systems in the UK and Dubai, and encouraged the students to be honest and genuine as they navigate the world of work after graduation.
Highlights of the trip also included learning about the importance of Expo2020 to Dubai from Nadia Taha, Marketing Communications MA graduate, and the benefits of working at a multinational company through a visit to the Tigerspike Dubai. From Rehan Khan, Applied Social Research MA graduate, participants learnt about how to succeed in a world of distraction, while Karen Desai, International Business and Management MA/MSc graduate and entrepreneur talked about why he lives to fight another day.
Isaac Saban, a Music: Production, Performance and Enterprise BA BMUS student, said about the trip: “Being able to listen to successful people and gain an insight into how they got to the position they were currently in, from a broad range of industries was fascinating. I really liked that there was a mixture of entrepreneurs, corporate speakers and creatives as it gave me a broad scope of what working in Dubai is like in various industries. All of the speakers came from varying backgrounds and had succeeded in different areas, so it was great.”
Alyssa Martin, Alumni Relations Team Manager, said: “The Westminster Working Cultures programme connects current students with graduates giving both an opportunity to learn from each other and maintain a strong connection with the University. The energy from our alumni and partners in Dubai was truly inspiring and motivating. They generously volunteered their time to share relevant advice and their professional insights, which gave the students a first-hand look at the drive and ambition you need to succeed in the world of work.”
The next trip in the Westminster Working Cultures programme is to Mumbai in January.
The programme is a substantial part of the University’s outward mobile programme that aims to facilitate meaningful international experiences for Westminster students. Last year 99 students traveled on one of five trips to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Washington DC, Mumbai or Berlin as part of the initiative.
With students from 165 countries, staff from across the world and a highly international alumni community, the University of Westminster embraces global engagement in all its forms.
The University has a rich mix of international partnerships in over 20 countries worldwide and place particular emphasis on providing international opportunities for its students. Westminster research addresses global themes and is sustained by international collaborations. The University of Westminster is an international institution, located in the heart of London.