A Relationship Blooms in the Desert
Boston University Celebrates Ties with GCC Region
Boston University will host its first-ever public gathering in theMiddle East this January, a business and networking forum in Dubai thatwill mark the launch of a new alumni relations effort in the ArabianGulf region. The event, called Celebrating Excellence: BostonUniversity and the GCC, will take place January 16 and 17 at the iconicBurj Al Arab, whose sail-like façade rises dramatically from an island just off the coast of Dubai city.
BUPresident Robert A. Brown and his wife, Beverly Brown, will lead anexecutive delegation from BU, including Robert A. Knox (CAS’74,GSM’75), chair of the Board of Trustees, to celebrate theaccomplishments of the University’s regional alumni, parents, andfriends, as well as its own growing footprint in the area.
The event will inaugurate the BU Alumni Association of the GulfCooperation Council (GCC), a name that collectively denotes six nationsthat share Arabian Gulf coastline, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman,Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
A gala celebration and dinner on Friday evening at the Burj Al Arab,which is sponsoring the gathering, will kick things off. The next daywill offer a series of panel sessions and roundtables by BU alumni andparents who are leaders in their fields; time for networking andreconnecting with friends; and a talk by President Brown about BU’splans in the region and around the world.
A group of alumni who live and work in the region came together toplan the event and secure the sponsorship of the Burj Al Arab. RenéBeil (SHA’97, MET’04), one of the members of the organizing committee,says Dubai is an apt gathering point for BU’s first high-profile visit,since its vibrant growth and entrepreneurial spirit match qualities hesees in BU and its alumni. “That’s what BU represents in the world,that entrepreneurial drive and spirit,” he says. “You don’t see thatfar reaching and international presence too much in other universities.”
Beil, who came to BU to study hospitality management after he’dalready had a hands-on immersion in the hotel business in Geneva,Paris, and Brussels, says the international students he met at theSchool for Hospitality Administration continue to be important socialand professional contacts for him. He’s now vice president for assetmanagement with Dubai Ventures Group, the investment and assetmanagement company of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’sgovernment entity Dubai Holding, which owns the Burj Al Arab, the EssexHouse NYC, and other hotel properties around the world, among otherassets.
Beil went on to get his M.S. in finance and economics throughMetropolitan College, working hectic hours at a start-up company andsomehow finding the energy (“I don’t know how,” he laughs) to takeclasses at night. Appreciating the practicality of a program thatrespected the needs of working students, he says he continued to forgeimportant contacts among classmates and professors, which he stillcalls upon.
Recognizing his own entrepreneurial inclination, he wound up inDubai, which he jokingly refers to as “New York and Shanghai onsteroids.” The city is “so fast-paced. Everyone wants to be in Dubai,and everyone eventually comes to Dubai. It’s a tourism hub, a financialhub — a lot of deals get done here.”
Beil says this event in Dubai is the beginning of a long-term relationship, one that will involve not only the School of Dental Medicine’s campus in Dubai but also possible connections with SHA. “This is really the tip of the iceberg as to where we can go with this,” he says.
Other alumni who played key roles in organizing CelebratingExcellence in Dubai are Khaled Jaouni (ENG’95), Binay Shetty (SMG’04),Reema Shetty (SMG’01), Seema Shetty (SMG’03), and Tarek Sultani(GSM’01). For information, visit www.bu.edu/gcc or write to email@example.com Comments