In Winter quarter 2016, the UW Jackson School of International Studies and the Foster School of Business launched a program that links a class called the “Economic and Business Trends in the Middle East,” with a one week study tour to the region.
After learning about economic trends throughout the Middle East in a Seattle classroom, some of the students joined the Spring Break study tour program headed to Oman and Qatar. This 10 day “Bridging the Gulf Study Tour” provided students an opportunity to learn firsthand about key trends that are reconfiguring the economic and business landscape in the Middle East. The study tour compared and contrasted the two countries, examining public policy, diplomacy, economic development, and the overall business climate. The program also sought to demystify a region that is actively engaged, but poorly understood in the West.
Group activities introduced students to the history of the Middle East and to the current economic realities of the region. Students had the opportunity to learn about Islamic Finance at Bank Nizwa, meet with Al Jazeera English news anchor Kamahl Santamaria, visit a 16th century Portuguese fort in Oman, wade through the complexities of the oil industry and discuss the Gulf’s changing economic landscape with Qatar University students and faculty.