12 Months, 12 Memories: My First Year in Dubai

Dubai, a mesmerizing city in the United Arab Emirates, is a captivating blend of ultramodern architecture, luxurious lifestyles, and vibrant cultural experiences. With iconic landmarks like the Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah, and Burj Al Arab, Dubai dazzles visitors with its opulence. From extravagant shopping malls and world-class dining to desert safaris and traditional souks, Dubai offers an extraordinary fusion of modernity and Arabian charm. On September 8, 2014 I opened for Lady Gaga. Well, not exactly: I landed in Dubai, UAE a few hours before Lady Gaga also arrived in Dubai for a concert at the Meydan Racecourse (on September 10). And so began my expat adventure as a full-time business professor.

In the 12 months since I have exponentially grown personally and developed professionally. While I had previously traveled internationally, my experience was limited mostly to short trips to a handful of countries. Those early overseas trips certainly exposed me to a more global perspective, but living overseas has allowed me to experience a different mindset entirely. Embracing the unknown was challenging, but, ultimately, rewarding.

As a lifelong learner, living and working overseas has been especially refreshing and rewarding. What better way to continuously learn than by putting yourself in a totally foreign situation and challenging yourself to adapt? To celebrate my first year as an expat, below I have shared one memory from each month — technically there are 13 memories, but consider the inclusion of September 2015 as one extra for good luck!

  • September 2014: Began teaching undergraduate business courses at Jumeira University.
  • October 2014: Celebrated Halloween by taking a dhow cruise on the Dubai Creek.
  • November 2014: Visited to the 148th floor observation deck of the Burj Khalifa (555.7 meters high)!
  • December 2014: Experienced my first desert safari on UAE National Day.
  • January 2015: Drove to Abu Dhabi and experienced Ferrari World and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
  • February 2015:  Traveled to nearby Oman for a short visit with friends.
  • March 2015: Attended the First International Conference on Sports Management and Sports Law.
  • April 2015:  Visited Los Angeles and went to the Dodgers opening day game with my son.
  • May 2015: Published my first book, “edX E-Learning Course Development” via Packt Publishing.
  • June 2015: Supported the Commemorative Air Force’s restoration of C-47 “That’s All, Brother.”
  • July 2015: Began teaching one part time marketing course at American University in the Emirates (AUE).
  • August 2015: Drove to Al Ain, the second largest city in Abu Dhabi and the fourth largest city in UAE.
  • September 2015: Began teaching marketing and management courses full-time at AUE.

The past 12 months have been a great adventure; I’m looking forward to the next 12 months!

Inspired to “learn continuously, live generatively,” Matthew A. Gilbert, MBA is a lecturer of marketing at Coastal Carolina University and the director of the university’s Each One Teach One Entrepreneurship Institute. Connecting academia with industry, his research intersects humanity, industry, and technology. A charismatic communicator, he facilitates corporate training and delivered three TEDx Talks. As a marketer, he develops marketing collateral and design business courses. His writing appears in academic and industry publications. When asked why teaching is his tenure, he explains, “education empowers me to influence individuals and impact organizations while improving myself in the process.”