Vilma Jurkute, my boss and the director of Alserkal Avenue, created a very detailed program that outlined my daily tasks for the first few weeks. It comprised primarily of general real estate and historical research of Dubai. In this crucial period before the Expo 2020, the Dubai real estate market is in a pivotal phase, especially since its slow recovery from the 2008 shock. Being dropped into the dynamic Dubai real estate landscape without much context was frustrating for me initially. And given that Dubai is a young city, existing data on these topics was either very shallow or nonexistent, fully stretching my researching abilities. Eventually I found some incredible sources, most of which were surprisingly government initiatives. In addition to this, I had to reconcile the conventional research presentation style, a research paper, with the artistic style adopted at the Avenue, a well-designed PowerPoint; it was a compromise that I appreciated. These slides are the cornerstone of my future analysis of Alserkal Group’s property portfolio.
The environment at work is casual and comfortable. I never feel as though I’m pressured to sit and work for hours on end and there’s flexibility about how and where I work as well: the office has several work spaces, including cubicles (if I really need to focus) and the A4 creative space – which is a public space in Alserkal where people all around Dubai come to work. Usually, I take a one-hour break for lunch during which I catch up with my co-workers, most of whom are a couple years older than me, well-travelled, and love to order in food (typically an over-order of Thai food to my benefit). To my misfortune, Alserkal Avenue is a seasonal business and everyone takes leave around this time of year, robbing me of people that I had gotten close to recently.
Outside of work, I have many friends, old and new, and I have my weekend adventures with them. It’s incredible to meet new people through mutual friends and then get even closer to them. Jana, a woman from my villa, took me out for dinner and introduced me to Abeer and PK, an art manager and a psychologist, respectively. At dinner, they invited me to visit Abu Dhabi with them the following day, an offer I – of course – accepted. We visited the cultural art district, the NYU art gallery, and the Grand Mosque (it was even more special given that it was Eid). With a friend from high school who’s currently working with Consensys to get Dubai onto the Ethereum platform, I went to Dubai Parks and Resorts, hitting 3 theme parks in 6 hours and ending at midnight.
–Harshil Shah Alserkal Avenue, Dubai