The Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations is a bi annual conference, with two conferences held each year since 1991. One is convened in Boston, Massachusetts and the other in Asia, in collaboration with a leading university of the region. This year’s HPAIR Asia Conference was held in Dubai from the 22nd to 26th of August at the JW Marquis Marriot and the American University of Dubai. I, along with two of my class fellows from NUST Business School, was one of ten Pakistani delegates chosen to represent our country at the conference.
|At the Pakistan Counsel General's Residence|
The conference encompassed a large variety of topics and there were ten panels, ranging from Business Leadership to Global Health. The three of us, Alizeh Hameed, Maryam Gul and Mehick Ahmed, were on the Media, Security and Energy Panels respectively, and were part of some very engaging debates. Panellists included noted academicians, researchers, journalists, politicians, businessmen and entrepreneurs. Apart from attending the core panel discussions, we were given a choice of several seminars that we could attend as per availability; this allowed us to get a well rounded output from the conference.
Field trips were also arranged by the HPAIR Organizing committee as relevant to the panel. I was taken to the International Humanitarian city and shown relief goods at the world’s largest aid providing base. I was astonished to find that Dubai was at a 3 hours journey from one third of the world’s population and 7 hours away from reaching two thirds of the world, making it an ideal location for humanitarian workers. Mehick as part of her panel got to explore the Trans-Gulf Factories and Eemar industries, while Alizeh got to visit the biggest advertising agency in the UAE where she learnt the tricks behind the glossy television screens.
The entire conference was a remarkable experience, from living at the world’s tallest hotel and meeting people from well educated backgrounds to enjoying the pre and post conference tours with fellow delegates. The opening ceremony was held at the world’s largest iMax theatre and sessions took place at the hotel as well as the magnificent campus of the American University in Dubai.
The best event was perhaps the international night when we were able to showcase our country’s culture to the other delegates. The most exciting part about representing one’s country abroad is the fact that you are able to change perceptions in a matter of minutes. From teaching Germans the bhangra to applying mehndi to Americans and Venezuelans, the entire evening was incredibly enjoyable we found that people were genuinely interested in finding out about Pakistan and its rich history.
The little time we got off from the panel discussions and seminars was spent at the various malls in Dubai, and going to the top of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Al Khalifa. We also visited Al Bastakiya, or old town Dubai, and were privileged to attend a session in a mosque!
|Desert Safari as an ending to our trip!|
All in all, the trip, funded completely by our Alma mater NUST, was a well-rounded one where we got to interact with the best brains in the world and some of the most successful professionals. As a parting gift, we were invited to the Pakistani Embassy in Dubai for lunch where we got to discuss our conference’s outcomes with the Counsel General. As we boarded the flight back home, we realized we were coming back with a global network of friends, a plethora of new ideas and altered mind sets. HPAIR ’13 was one incredible global experience!
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