Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, is presented with an appreciation award by MBS dean Professor Fiona Devine. Image Credit: Courtesy: University of Manchester

Dubai: The University of Manchester on Thursday held its first graduation ceremony in the Middle East to honour 85 students who graduated from its Manchester Business School (MBS) Middle East Centre.

Some of the students who succeeded in completing their MBA degrees are full-time working parents, who managed to balance the daily demands of raising children while working and going to school.

Speaking during the ceremony Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, commended the graduates for enrolling in an MBA programme while holding full-time jobs and taking care of their families.

“Women and men graduating today have earned their degrees because they were studying while working, which requires sacrifice and perseverance,” said Shaikh Nahyan.

He added that the graduates will leave with improved skills to deal with different cultures because they got to study in Dubai’s diverse environment.

Graduates spoke to Gulf News about some of the challenges that they had faced in obtaining a university degree while working full-time and in some cases being full-time parents as well.

One of the graduates, Rafaa Mustafa, Sudanese, enrolled in the university in an unusual situation.

“I was nine months pregnant when I decided to pursue my MBA degree. It was very difficult but it was definitely worth all the work because it helped me obtain a better job in my field.”

Thuraya Haddar, a Tunisian mother of three who also holds a full-time job, said that pursuing her degree required persistence.

“It was difficult but I did enjoy it, it required a lot of persistence but I do recommend others to pursue their higher education I was able to get a better job thanks to my degree.”

Although Manchester Business School was established in 2006 in Dubai Knowledge Village and has seen some 300 students graduate since then, this is the first time the graduation ceremony has take place in the UAE. All others took place in the UK.

Professor Fiona Devine, Dean of Manchester Business School, also addressed the graduates at the ceremony. “This graduation in the UAE marks a proud ceremony for our university and graduates. It is a start of a special relationship between the university and its new alumni.”

She also spoke about future expansion plans of the University in Dubai and said the new building will include a hotel and conference hall, adding that this reflects the university’s global standing.