The First UW Study Tour to Oman and Qatar
During Spring Break of 2016 the Middle East Center, Jackson School, and the Global Business Center, UW Foster School of Business, organized the UW’s first ever study tour to the Sultanate of Oman and the State of Qatar. The challenges and rewards of this tour were considerable, as a group of eighteen intrepid UW students encountered this critical region for the first time.
The study tour was intended primarily as an optional follow-on opportunity for the students in Professor Kristian Coates Ulrichsen’s Economic & Business Trends in the Middle East course (JSIS 487/587 and I BUS 490), which focused on the Gulf countries and economies. The study tour was also made available to students unable to take the course through a series of content-rich pre-departure orientation sessions, which prepared them for their travel experience.
On the ground in Oman and Qatar visits and lectures focused on the history of the two countries, the production of (and reliance on) oil and natural gas, women’s education and empowerment, public health, water use, economic diversification, state budgeting, guest worker and local labor management, Gulf Cooperation Council relations with post-nuclear deal Iran, Islam, Islamic banking, and Omani family life.
Participants in the study tour were a diverse group, which included undergraduate business majors from the Foster School, Computer Science students, Jackson School students, and graduate students from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance and undergraduates from the UW-Bothell.
This was a remarkable experience with an as-yet untold impact on the ideas, views, understanding and perhaps future careers of eighteen University of Washington students. There is no doubt that they were exposed to a region—and received a concentrated dose of sensory input, perspectives, articulated values, connectivities and complexities—to an extent that is difficult to deliver in an on-campus course alone.
The study tour was also an introduction to a critical, seldom-visited, strategically and economically significant but all-too-frequently misunderstood region of the world. It was also a welcome development in the growing and fruitful collaboration between the Foster School’s Global Business Center and the Jackson School of International Studies.
Contributors: David Fenner, Affiliate Instructor, Jackson School of International Studies and study tour leader; Josie Kraft, Assistant Director, Global Business Center, Foster School of Business.