It was a peaceful place which had two residences, a cafeteria block, a recreation block, an auditorium and a mosque. It was spread out and far away from the mad city rush and the modern and extensive shopping malls that Dubai is well known for. In fact it cost around Dhs. 50 to get from the Etisalat Academy to the city centre – which is possibly indicative of the distance.
As I walked around the grounds of the Etisalat Academy, my thoughts went back to a place called Matahari Island which is two hours by speed boat from Jakarta in Indonesia. It reminded me of Matahari Island without quite being like it.
I think it was in the early nineties that Macromedia Inc, which Enabling Technologies represented as a Distributor, held its Annual Retreat on Matahari Island. Having landed in Jakarta, we were all pushed onto speedboats and taken to this island two hours away. The water was quite choppy and some of the delegates threw up on the way there.
Once there, we were each given a cottage in which we were to live during our stay. There was a dining hall where we met for all our meals and there was a sort of conference hall where we had all our meetings. I remember that in order to use our computers and the multimedia projection system during the business sessions, the power in all the cottages had to be shut off first 🙂
One could swim, dive and jog but other than that, there were no other distractions – no shops, no post office, nothing. You couldn’t even buy a postcard. Having lived all my life in a place like Hong Kong, I was totally traumatised. They wanted us to focus on getting to know each other and trying out the range of Macromedia products. We were also there to brainstorm and develop worldwide marketing and positioning strategies.
Since there was no escape, we did settle down to the task at hand. It was a very relaxing, unstressful and beautiful location – totally unspoilt by the modernity that had already begun to creep into most cities and tourist resorts in the region.
As I said, Etisalat Academy was not quite Matahari Island as in the evenings we hopped onto coaches and went for dinner to places like the Sheraton but somehow my first glimpse of the place brought back memories of the Macromedia Retreat that we were a part of more than a decade ago.
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