Sparks – Taking off @IIFT – From Delhi to Dubai

Sparks. The very word ignites one’s imagination, fuelling hope, growth & desire. Nothing could better describe someone just entering B School. We at IIFT, wanted to share with you, first and foremost, what it’s like to go through the portals of the best B Schools, and the bright sparks you’ll meet there. Each week, we bring you stories to fire your dreams. Stories from the unique paths through MBA, that thrive at IIFT.May these sparks always light your paths.

Tales from the Sands of Dubai – Learnings from its Audacity

Days after the formation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, Port Rashid in Dubai became operational. Named after the ruling Monarch of Dubai Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the port was one of the largest in the Middle East attracting sailors and traders from India, China and Iran. 2 years down the line, Sheikh Rashid wanted to build another port at Jebel Ali, 35 kilo meters away from the town of Dubai!

It was shocking for everyone who came to know of it because there was no water in Jebel Ali. It was a dry barren land. The Sheikh said, “If you cannot bring the port to the sea, let’s bring the sea to the port”. No engineering or consulting firm would have dared to do a feasibility study of the port at Jebel Ali when it was planned to be built in the late 70s, writes Sheikh Mohammed the present ruler of Dubai in his memoir “My Vision- Challenges in the Race of Excellence.” A book I haven’t been able to put down since my return from Dubai 2 days ago. Today, Jebel Ali port is the largest man-made port in the world handling more than half of Dubai’s exports.

It is this audacity that is evident in everything that Dubai has accomplished. We, the students of IIFT got to visit Dubai port as part of our study tour (port visit) this week. The Students’ Council, of which I am a part, hosted the 3rd International Trade Conclave of IIFT in Dubai. The Ambassador of India to UAE H.E. Mr. T.P Seetharam inaugurated the conclave on 19th September 2015. More than 100 delegates from various sectors of industry in the UAE participated in the conclave. The likes of Mr. Djamal Djouri, CEO Al Ghurair Resources, Mr. Sharad Singhvi, VP-HR, Petrofac Ltd, Mr. Thomas Kuruvilla, Managing Director, Arthur D Little UAE, Thomas Pagonis, Shipping Manager, Al Ghurair Resources, Mr. Prabhat Sangwan, VP, Olam Middle East LLC participated in the panel discussion on “GCC Trade and Investment Flows- Implications for the Indian Economy”. Dr. Ashraf Ali Mahate, Head of Export Marketing Intelligence at Dubai Exports moderated the discussion. The students not only got to network with these industry leaders but also gained insights into trading and doing business in Dubai. Something, very unique to the students of IIFT.

To me personally, being the coordinator for the International Trade Conclave and the port visit, it was a fantastic learning experience. The sheer amount of hard work that goes in organising a conclave of that magnitude overseas is simply mind boggling when I think of it in hindsight. Thankfully, I was ably guided by my faculty coordinator and assisted by the student Alumni Coordinator who had to organise the Alumni Chapter Meet in Dubai.

For everybody who visits Dubai, it gives a sense of optimism, a hope that everything that can be dreamed, can be achieved. The way a barren land has been transformed by the rulers of Dubai as one of the best cities to live in, is inspiring to say the least. There is so much to learn from the raw audacity that Dubai represents. On our first day of port visit we visited the Jebel Ali Free Zone Area and the Jebel Ali port. All visitors inside the port premises are prohibited due to the increased security measures from the government. Thanks to the Indian Consulate’s recommendation to IIFT, the port authorities after a brief presentation allowed us to take a tour of the port premises. The port which was created by dredging the land is an architectural wonder. It has 2 terminals and has 35 berths which can accommodate the largest of the ships known to mankind and is most suitable for container trade.

Shiekh Rashid realised that for Dubai to grow with negligible oil revenues, unlike the neighbouring emirate of Abu Dhabi, he has to get foreign investments into the country. The UAE was a very traditional economy which was administered mostly through the Sharia law. Modern Dubai’s seeds were sown with creation of Free Trade Zones which mirrored western economies in their functioning. What Sheikh Rashid started, his son Sheikh Mohammed, the current ruler of Dubai continued with a feverish pace. Dubai is known for its free zones where foreign nationals can set up their businesses with lightning speeds and have the flexibility to repatriate all earnings to their home countries with 0% taxation involved. Dubai gains by getting the confidence of wealthy businessmen and from the rents businesses pay. The government understands that not all wealth will be sent back. People have to spend locally for their needs thus adding to the country’s GDP. Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Healthcare City are all free zones set up by the Government of Dubai. We were fortunate enough to visit most of the free zones and understand their working. It is an extraordinary example of how governments can rise from their own shackles and create prosperity for their people.

The jewel in the crown of the 3 day port visit was the visit to FEDEx Middle East Hub in Dubai International Airport. It is the 7th busiest cargo airport in the world. FEDEx operates its Hub and Spoke model for the Middle East region through the Dubai airport. It is their hub and the headquarters of their operations. Truly a magnificent facility. The FEDEx authorities took us inside the air plane Boeing 777 to explain the logistics during the live operations, right when the plane was being loaded for its departure to headquarters Memphis, in the United States. We were allowed to operate the crane to experience the thrill of it. To top it all, each of the student was allowed to enter the cockpit of the plane and experience it all, first hand. We were all thrilled in doing so.

– Vinay Biradar, President, IMF Student Council, IIFT 2014-16

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