A Moment in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
From morning until night, today was quite an eventful day in the capital city of Abu Dhabi. We arrived at the Etihad Innovation Centre where I was awed by the futuristic vibes backed by all sorts of lights, technologies, and 3D models found inside the centre. The Etihad innovation centre was designed to conduct state-of-the-art research around innovative products and remarkable experiences to better improve the products and services of this 5 star airline. It was thrilling to be given a tour of the world’s biggest aircrafts like the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787. For the very first time, I got to receive a taste of first class airline treatment and I enjoyed spending my time learning about the processes and design that went into producing some of the world’s top-class aircrafts.
After our visit at the innovation centre, we headed over to the Alliott Consulting Group to meet Dr. Qaiser Anis (Founder and Managing Director) and Zaheer Anis (Executive Officer). AMC (Alliott Management Consulting) is a consulting firm that manages SMEs with a focus on financial auditing and reviews. Here I enjoyed our discussions about the past vs. present Abu Dhabi city and how much growth has progressed over a short period of time. It was also neat to hear their perspective of Canada in relations to Dubai. As there are quite a lot of similarities such as the amount of diversity within both countries, the progression of Dubai exceeds any other economy and one of the main reasons can be attributed to the monarchy and governmental boundaries set within the country. It was also extremely helpful to be able to pitch our RGIC project to high-level executive professionals, as they had many experiences and insights that they shared with us to improve our initiatives.
Following this, we headed over to the Canadian Embassy where we learned about the Free-Trade Zone agreements in a lot more depth. I was fascinated to learn about regulations that affect business agreements conducted in the UAE, as it could impact the success of my team’s RGIC project. I was also curious about the strategic positioning of our Canadian brands in an affluent city such as Dubai and I was shocked to learn that a double double from Tim Hortons here totals around 15 AED ($5 Canadian). To serve a primarily wealthy market segment with a higher disposable income, I can see why the mark-up margins of a regular coffee is equivalent to Starbucks prices. When I asked one-on-one questions after the session had ended I was shocked to learn that all the top Canadian and American brands such as La Senza, Aldo, Tim Hortons, Tommy Hilfiger, Juicy Couture, Nine West, Aeropostale and more were acquired by the Apparel Group, owned by an Indian Billionaire Nilesh Ved who saw potential in entering the UAE market in 1999. Nilesh seems to have beaten me to it, but I’ll be back with something bigger and better for the UAE market!
Finally, the day ended with one of my biggest highlights of the trip- a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. I almost forgot to take a breath while walking on such holy grounds, as everything I was surrounded by was breathtakingly stunning. It was my first time entering a mosque and I am so fortunate to visit such a sacred marvel and learn about the beautiful religion of Islam. It was truly a moment to remember, being able to experience culture in its most purest form. Traveling makes one humble as you learn how small we really are on Earth, and I am so happy and grateful to be given opportunities that remind me to act in gratitude for everything I do. After all, it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.