The Middle East is increasingly becoming a popular recruitment pool for top tier business schools as Master of Business Administration (MBA) awareness grows among regional entrepreneurs.
Tours such as the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) MBA Tour are expanding their regional stops due to the growth in awareness, Nunzio Quacquarelli, director of the QS MBA Tour, said.
"The Middle East is becoming a more attractive recruiting region for international business schools," Quacquarelli said. "Therefore, we are increasing the number of regional events in the 2012 fall tour, with a stop in Saudi Arabia and a possible addition in Lebanon."
The QS MBA Tour has been coming to the UAE for nearly a decade and inaugurated its Qatar stop last year. The Dubai leg of the spring tour will be held in the Monarch Hotel on Friday.
"There is a sense of returning prosperity to the region and, therefore, with growing prosperity comes greater numbers of business school candidates," he said. "The fact that the Middle East tour is our smallest demonstrates schools are still feeling their way as regional awareness of the benefits of MBAs grows."
Impact of Arab Spring
He added that the impact of the Arab Spring on business education is still unclear. However, if new regimes encourage entrepreneurial enterprise, then MBA applicants from the region will rise significantly.
"In the past, dictatorships tended to stifle entrepreneurism, but if people are allowed to prosper in the region, then young people will look abroad for MBAs," he said. "This will, no doubt, lead to increased candidate recruitments from the Middle East region for business schools."
Quacquarelli added of the 918 visitors at last year's Dubai fall tour, 93 per cent were expatriate residents, a large portion of whom were from the Indian subcontinent.
"We have observed in the UAE a lot of people choosing to study MBAs are people from the Indian subcontinent; while the number of Arab people is relatively small and this is due to awareness," he said. "We find the benefits of an MBA are ingrained in our Indian candidates as their families aspire for children to go to business school."
He added that in contrast, among UAE and other Arab nationals, the benefits of MBA qualifications tend to remain relatively unknown.
"That culture amongst most Arabs of planning to take an MBA isn't there yet and will take time to emerge," he said. "It will take an education of parents as well as their children."
The Dubai tour will host 35 top international business schools, many of whom already have a presence here such as Cass Business School, INSEAD and Manchester Business School. There will also be scholarships worth a total of $1.2 million (Dh4.4 million) up for grabs.