The UAE is the region’s leading centre for MBA study, so choosing the right course is your only problem
Any search for MBA programmes in the United Arab Emirates poses a problem: There are almost too many to choose from. With around 170 programmes by more than 50 providers, the price range is as vast as the choice is wide–from AED 30,000 to almost AED 500,000.
“[The number of programmes] is actually very big considering the size of the UAE,” says Kareem El-Nagdy, managing director of Laimoon, a UAE-based course and jobs portal. “Look at more advanced markets, such as Singapore: It is much older, has been known for education for quite some time, and it only has 25 MBAs.”
In 2013, Deloitte ranked the UAE as the fourth most attractive education destination in the world for students who want to study abroad. Today, the UAE is home to six of the world’s top 100 business schools as ranked by the Financial Times and five of Forbes’ top 24 international business schools; but these are a very small portion of the dozens of MBA programmes on offer in the UAE. “Some of the schools and courses offered are very small and others have 500-plus students across various programmes, from executive MBAs to MBAs of various types. So there are a lot of students who have an appetite for these courses,” says Jack Khabbaz, manager of supply chain, sales and marketing at Morgan McKinley.
Manchester Business School’s Dubai base, for one, is the fastest growing of all of the institution’s seven international centres. The hub accounts for more than 50 per cent of all the part-time MBA students at MBS worldwide alone. Plenty of other UAE MBA programmes are popular too, all of which have made the country a regional centre for MBA study in a very short space of time. “Of course the market has been maturing over the past 10 years but the rapid increase of MBAs in the UAE has happened over the past four or five years,” says El Nagdy. “You have a lot of universities setting up shop because a lot of people have opened educational provider companies and created
partnerships with universities in the UK to deliver these courses.”
University of Bangor offers an online Chartered Banker MBA–the only specialisation of its kind in the UAE–via Dubai’s Westford School of Management for between AED 51,000 and AED 63,000. And BTEC offers general MBA programmes by three UK universities: Anglia Ruskin University, University of Northampton and University of Worcester for AED 70,000. Other private education providers offering MBA programmes include Lincoln University of Business and Management and Al Tareeqah Management Studies.
However, many universities and business schools, including some of the world’s top ranked institutions, have gone to the expense of opening their own branches here. The vast majority of the international business schools have chosen to base themselves in Dubai, with the exception of INSEAD and NYIT, which have both opened campuses in Abu Dhabi. London Business School, ranked second in the Financial Times’ 2015 international ranking of MBA programmes and fourth by Forbes, offers an Executive MBA programme which is among the most expensive available in Dubai, at AED 380,696.
“London Business School has been developing the region’s business leaders since it first introduced its Executive MBA programme in 2007 through its Dubai Centre in the DIFC,” says Susan Roth, executive director for recruitment and admissions at London Business School. “Developing and progressing steadily since we first started here, Dubai is increasingly recognised as a global business hub and we are proud to have been part of this exciting growth.”
Other universities on the Financial Times’ list with a UAE campus include Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business–which offers an online programme–and INSEAD, which teaches only one module of its EUR 65,800 course at its Abu Dhabi campus. However, Cass Business School, City University London, University of Strathclyde, and Manchester Business School all also appear on the Financial Times’ list and teach their entire MBA programmes in Dubai.
In fact, the UAE is home to business schools from a number of countries including seven US schools, 14 British programmes, four Indian institutions, three Australian–and many more besides.
But why would so many business schools all decide to open bases in the UAE? There are numerous reasons, according to experts–not least because the country, like in other areas such as finance, has evolved to become a hub in the region for education. “The UAE and the Gulf region attract multinational companies to set up their local operations and regional headquarters, along with experienced business people who are well qualified, mobile, affluent English speakers,” says Randa Bessiso, director of the Middle East region of Manchester Business School. “There is a buoyant economy supported by world-class communications, infrastructure, services and leisure. Where business goes, business education follows–along with business support service providers.”
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