Arabic and Entrepreneurship in the UAE

Xu Xinming, NYUAD Class of 2017, spent his summer studying Arabic and interning at The Basement Project, whose scope of services ranges from business consulting to assisting a company's establishment.

My first university summer was not the type of holiday that I would recommend to future freshmen who want to relax and see the world before chasing after summer internships in subsequent years. Nevertheless, I found my summer equally exciting and tremendously rewarding, both intellectually and experientially.

I had three precious days of reprieve after finals before the momentum of classes started rolling again with Arabic 201, an intense and compressed month-long summer course recommended for those serious about mastering the language and hoping to finish intermediate Arabic before leaving for study away during the spring semester of their sophomore year. And, by staying in the capital, I got to enjoy one more month of NYU Abu Dhabi's delicious Downtown Campus food and savor the final nostalgia of the University's first campus.

Unlike its elementary counterparts, Arabic 201 was conducted nearly entirely in Arabic, with double the vocabulary lists and multiplied grammar content. But each member of the class rose to the challenge and, after a few days of adjustment, felt his or her mastery of the language improve at a palpable rate every day. We were able to express more ideas in Arabic with our newfound vocabulary and the newly acquired grammar lessons were systematically unraveling the mystery of the complex language. Alhamdullila!

In the blink of an eye, June came to a close and I flew home to China to spend nine hectic days with family and friends before heading back to the UAE. Only this time, I landed in Dubai to begin my internship with The Basement Project, a company that provides services to groom new business ideas and whose scope of services ranges from business consulting to assisting a company's establishment.

As an Idea Investigation Intern, my primary role is to conduct market research to find benchmarks and established companies who would be competitors to the potential business idea. For example, take a startup mobile app that suggests meals to eat with chopsticks. I would research any similar existing mobile apps to analyze their performance and give feedback on the prospect of launching the chopstick app. In addition to conducting benchmark research, I am also involved in the planning and execution of two other major projects.

Working in Dubai during the holy month of Ramadan also provided me with an opportunity to practice a new skill. Because restaurants were closed until sunset, I discovered the fun of culinary arts. Though the food I made was quite unpleasant, there was definitely improvement. I could taste it!

As I write, I am just days away from completing my internship and I feel that I have seen and learned so much about entrepreneurship and project execution. My experience in Dubai has opened me up to the entrepreneurship scene in the UAE and the inspiring team with whom I worked reaffirmed my belief in becoming an entrepreneur. Of course, living through the hottest time in the UAE and walking in 49-degree-Celsius temperatures are just as unforgettable.

By choosing a summer course and an internship over traveling, I did not see a different part of the world, but I have learned in these three months to see the world differently.