Graduate students in Cornell’s Baker Program in Real Estate are departing from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates after six days of exploring the City of Gold’s real estate landscape.  The trip to Dubai was the Baker Program’s third annual international real estate case study trip, which seek to provide students with a broader understanding of real estate markets and practices globally.  To this end, the Dubai trip did not disappoint.

Dubai’s global economic footprint and real estate market have experienced tremendous growth since the seven United Arab Emirates were unified in 1971.  Over the past 20 years in particular, the nation’s economy has strived for diversification from a once highly oil-dependent economy to a financial center for the Middle East.  The UAE is widely regarded to be a safe haven for multinational businesses seeking a regional presence in the Middle East, East Africa, and Asia due to its central location, business-friendly tax structure (no income tax and first VAT tax of 5% being introduced in 2018), safety measures, and high quality of life (the Emiratis created a Ministry of State for Happiness in 2016).

The UAE’s position in the region coupled with public sector investment in the real estate market has translated into a tremendous amount of real estate development over the past 20 years, and Baker Program students were exposed to a broad range of asset classes and real estate professionals during their trip.  Highlights of the trip included:


  • Tour of Old Dubai, including Al Fahidi Fort Bur Dubai, Deira, and local gold, spice, and textile souks (marketplaces)
  • Presentation from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s real estate group, one of the five largest sovereign wealth funds in the world
  • Tour of the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
  • Tour of Burj al Arab (dubbed the world’s only 7-star resort) and adjacent Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Madinat Jumeirah resorts run by Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts
  • Tour of Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world at 2,722 feet) and adjacent Dubai Mall owned and operated by Emaar Properties
  • Tour of Dubai Design District, a master planned community created to house architects, engineering, and design firms as well as start-ups involved in the booming regional real estate development
  • Presentation from the Dubai International Financial Centre, a Federal Financial Free Zone that now houses several multinational corporations’ regional headquarters
  • Tour of Atlantis The Palm, One & Only Royal Mirage, and the Royal Atlantis construction site owned and operated by Kerzner International

The students of the Baker Program thank the Emiratis for their hospitality during our visit, and we look forward to tracking the continued development of Dubai and the UAE over the coming decades.