Private universities in the UAE have dominated the list of top MBA programmes in the Arab world.
In this month's Forbes Middle East issue, 12 private UAE institutions' MBA programmes were among the top 20.
American University of Sharjah (AUS) came second, followed by Canadian University of Dubai in third place, American University of Dubai in sixth place, University of Wollongong in Dubai in seventh place and American University in the Emirates in the ninth.
American University of Cairo was the top-ranked private university out of 37 institutions. Bahraini, Jordanian and Lebanese universities also performed well.
In the list of best MBAs at government universities in the Arab world, Zayed University came in tenth and UAE University tied with Ibn Tofail University in Morocco for 20th place. The list excludes international branch campuses that operate in the region.
The criteria used by the study to assess the top 37 private university MBA programmes in the region included accreditation, number of majors, length of the programme, cost, minimum GPA requirements and availability of academic advisers.
Top in the UAE
"The high ranking of our MBA programme by Forbes is not a surprise to us, but comes as a logical crowning of the series of achievements by AUS in general and its School of Business and Management [SBM] in particular," said AUS chancellor Dr Peter Heath.
He expressed his satisfaction at AUS being the private institution with the best MBA programme in the country. AUS' 24-month MBA programme is also the most expensive on the list at $47,082 (Dh172,941).
Heath said AUS has maintained an educational standard equal to that of renowned US universities.
Zayed University's dean of the College of Business Sciences, John Seybolt, said: "It is always a pleasure to have a high ranking in an internationally recognised ranking system like Forbes."
He said it was especially gratifying to know that the programme, faculty and students are of a high calibre as the business school is relatively new and only 13 years old.
"Of course, the real worth of a business school programme is in the successes of its graduates, and it is pleasing to note that our MBA graduates are extremely well placed here in the UAE." The Chancellor of the Canadian University of Dubai, Buti Saeed Al Gandi, said the university was "extremely pleased with the outcome of this ranking, as we have been working very hard to achieve our goals of offering students a high quality MBA programme, which is reflective of the nature of our University".
Not all universities are pleased with the list.
Raymi van der Spek, executive director of UOWD, said, "I was approached by Forbes Middle East for an article they were writing on ‘best universities for master programmes'. The rankings seem to be based on this email request to institutions for internal data with no indication that it was going to be used to develop any form of ranking.
"Given that this data has been provided by the institutions themselves with no external audit, any claim of ranking validity could be highly contestable," he said.
Dr Rory Hume, provost of UAE University, expressed his surprise at the list and was unaware of the criteria the publication used to compile the list.
"As far as we can tell, their ranking relies on data such as graduates' incomes over the five years after graduation, for example, and we were not asked for such data."
Hume said that in terms of quality assessment and improvement, the university is focused primarily on continuing assessment and accreditation by the international agency, the American Association of Colleges and Schools of Business (AACSB), the international benchmark of quality.