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The UAE, particularly Dubai owing to its many business schools and management training institutions, has secured its place as one of the most sought-after global locations for MBA studies. Local B-schools help students acquire an extra edge in today’s highly competitive job market. These additional soft skills include a feeling for a multicultural workforce, the building up of a network of other ambitious students and eventually professionals from a large number of countries, as well as hands-on training in a multinational business environment.


“My MBA studies had a heavy focus on extreme professionalism,” says Sandeep Vete, a student of Indian origin at Hult International Business School in Dubai who pepped up his career in hospitality with an MBA in 2015 and is today Learning and Development Manager at The Address Hotels & Resorts in Dubai. “They will push you to develop you further. Students on the Dubai campus have a tight bond — I made incredible friends who are also my potential future business partners.” 


An MBA is seen by many as an enabler in an environment full of business opportunities in a hub for corporations from all over the world as well as entrepreneurs and start-ups of many kinds. 


“Apart from the courses, there was a lot of personal development and exposure to different cultures, from the Middle East and South East Asia,” says Ishtiba Meeajane who got her MBA from SP Jain School of Global Management in Dubai, alternating with the school’s Singapore and Sydney campuses. Meeajane is today Marketing Manager of a Mauritius-based trade group that markets Procter & Gamble and Ayam brands for the Mauritius and Réunion markets. 


“The Global MBA at SP Jain was a good learning experience,” she adds. “I learnt a lot during my stint, all of which seems quite relevant in today’s work environment. The course enabled me to kick-start my career in the field of my choice and fill a decision-making position. I also made sure to use the international exposure achieved at SP Jain in my day-to-day work.”


Aspiring MBA students are spoilt for choice in the UAE. Many reputed international universities and B-schools have opened campuses in the country over the past decade, mainly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and most of their degrees are recognised around the world. So deciding where to study can be based upon many things such as tuition fees, length and specialisation of the course and internationalisation of the institution.


Going by rankings, the best international one-year MBA programmes in the UAE are offered by Insead, whose Middle East campus is in Abu Dhabi, and SP Jain. Forbes’ global ranking The Best International MBAs: One-Year programmes 2015-2016 lists Insead first and SP Jain tenth.


Other institutions offering reputed MBA courses in the UAE include University of Wollongong, Murdoch University, Strathclyde Business School, American University in Dubai,  Canadian University Dubai, Institute of Management Technology, London Business School and Manchester Business School. Among domestic institutions commonly referred to for top MBA programmes are Zayed University, Abu Dhabi University and University of Dubai.


SP Jain was also ranked number one in Dubai in Forbes’ 2013-14 rankings, says Christopher Abraham, Head of SP Jain’s Dubai campus and Senior Vice-President of Institutional Development at the Mumbai-headquartered business school. 


In Dubai, SP Jain offers its Global MBA, a 12-month residential programme that requires students to study at campuses in Dubai, Singapore and Sydney. “Students learn to understand the theories and practices of global business and develop global intelligence and cultural agility, as well as gain real-world corporate skills such as effective communication, decision-making, leadership, networking and problem solving,” says Abraham.


MBAs from UAE B-schools meet the needs of the local, multicultural market as well as the multinational companies, since they are internationally oriented and equip students with the ability to manoeuvre through a multicultural corporate environment.


For example, Hult International Business School is known for its global campus network that includes London, San Francisco, Boston, New York and Shanghai. Other schools also offer global exchange programmes. The Institute of Management Technology in Dubai boasts a network of 27 overseas partner universities where MBA students are encouraged to spend a part of their studies.