Study Abroad: Oman & UAE

A student takes a selfie with a camel
 Students in a boardroom watch a PowerPoint presentation by a man in traditional Arab dress
 An imposing white mosque with many domes of different sizes
 Students prepare to eat a meal seated on the floor in traditional Arab fashion
 Two female students in business dress pose for a photo with a young woman wearing hijab
 Students examine an architectural model of a modern building complex
 Students rest beneath palm trees during a hike
 Two students sit on a dune watching a desert sunset
 An urban nightlife scene
 Students pose with a Miami flag, along with the family of an Omani Miami alum

Winter 2023

January 1-22, 2023
REL 365: Arabian Gulf Economies in Social Transition (6 credits)

Understanding Arab culture and Islam is crucial for successfully engaging with economies in the Middle East. In the cities of Muscat, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai, you will experience the religious, cultural, economic, and political climates of the Arabian Gulf. Whether your interests are in foreign affairs, human cultures, global politics, or international business, this study abroad experience will equip you to work successfully in Arab contexts. No Arabic required.

Read about a previous Oman trip.
Contact Dr. Nathan French for more info.
Apply for the program.

Frequently asked questions

Why study abroad?

When you study abroad, you participate in an immersive and intensive learning experience. At a classroom in Oxford, you might read about the impact of globalization on society and the workplace. But in Oman and UAE, you'll visit small- and medium-sized enterprises as well as multinational corporations. You'll study how the Islamic legal tradition shapes a trillion-dollar financial industry. You'll receive an introduction to Arabian Gulf societies while trying new foods and learning new customs. (And you'll even have time for the beach.)

What if we told you this trip might just help you find an internship in Dubai? It’s happened before.

Why these countries, specifically?

With the development of a robust non-renewable energy economy in the 1970s, the Arabian Gulf countries of Oman and UAE undertook substantial modernization programs. The city of Muscat, in Oman, enjoyed sustained growth while preserving its unique heritage of Ibadi Islam and traditional cultural practices. Dubai, in UAE, became a pillar of global capital and trade while emerging as a major tourist destination. Another UAE city, Abu Dhabi, is a commanding presence among the Emirates in both wealth and stature, thanks to its petroleum assets.

Each of these cities offers you a different perspective on how global flows of culture and capital work to create, transform, or preserve contemporary Middle Eastern societies.

A number of Miami graduates who went on this program in previous years have reported to us that when they later did interviews for jobs, law school, etc., this trip made their resumes stand out. Interviewers were impressed that these students had explored the world beyond the well-trod paths of Europe.

Is it safe to visit these countries?

Yes, it is safe.

The U.S. Department of State provides the same safety advice for Oman and UAE as they do for western Europe.

What will I study?

Central themes of study include

  • the historical development of markets and cultures in the Arabian peninsula and the influence of oil on the region.
  • business, economics, and politics in the Arabian Gulf economies.
  • domestic, regional, and foreign policy, with particular attention to culture, gender, and health in the workforce.

You will explore the question, "Is commerce a religion?" as you encounter firsthand the economic, business, and religious considerations that affect the global confluences of trade and culture in Arabian Gulf countries.

What will we visit and see?

Our itinerary is still being finalized; but based on previous trips, our program will likely include visits to

  • businesses of various sizes: traditional souqs (markets), modern malls, luxury hotels, tech start-ups, Sohar Port and Free Trade Zone, Nakheel Properties (developer of the "Palm" and "World" Islands in Dubai), Oman Oil, Occidental Petroleum, and Total (a Fortune 500 Global petroleum company).
  • sustainability institutions: Masdar City (the global capital of renewable energy research) and MEDRC Water Research (a UN initiative investigating solutions to water scarcity).
  • conventional and Islamic banks: Bank Muscat and Emirates Islamic Bank
  • government offices and embassies: the U.S. Embassy in Oman, Dubai's office for Foreign Direct Investment, and Omran (the tourism and investment fund of Oman).
  • a major journalism outlet: Al-Arabiyya News.
  • religious sites: Shaykh Zayed Grand Mosque (UAE), Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (Oman), and Al Amana Centre (the oldest Protestant mission in Oman).

In addition, you'll have opportunities to ride camels and bash dunes, camp overnight in the desert with experienced Bedouin guides, and hike and swim through the streams and caves of Wadi Shab.

Do I have to know Arabic?

No! English is widely spoken in both countries. (But maybe a bit of time in the Gulf will prompt you to study Arabic when you return!)

Are there prerequisites?

No. You'll receive a pre-departure orientation. As part of your coursework, you'll work with other students in a team to complete pre-departure learning modules to develop your understanding of the religions, histories, politics, and economies of these countries.

What about cost?

Given the nature of the region, totals vary from year-to-year. For 2023, the program fee is $5900. The program fee covers housing, ground transportation, program activities, most meals, and air travel to and from the United States. The program fee does not include additional air travel within the US, such as your travel to the US airport from which the group will depart together for the Middle East.

Standard Miami rates for in-state and out-of-state tuition apply for the winter term.

What do I get?

In addition to an experience that will change your view of the Middle East and the world? You'll receive 6 credit hours of Global Miami Plan credit (fulfilling the requirement which would otherwise take 9 credit hours on Miami’s campuses), and 6 credit hours of 300-level religion coursework.

We also recommend working with your advisors within your major to discuss the possibility of credit toward your major. We are prepared to speak with your advisors about how to facilitate this option.

Did we already mention this? Students who did this trip in previous years later found, when applying for jobs or graduate programs, that their having studied abroad in the Middle East, rather than Europe, helped them stand out from other candidates.