When Manchester Business School (MBS) first opened its doors in 1965, the original MBA cohort would have never imagined finishing the program in Dubai or Shanghai.
The Middle Eastern economies of the United Arab Emirates are some of the wealthiest in the world. While students have been achieving success at MBS for the past 48 years, this is the first time that EMBAs will get the chance to develop executive skills with such a strong middle-eastern focus.
MBS opened its Middle East Centre in Dubai back in 2006, and in the seven years since has supported about 1300 students in the region. But now, a new executive program has been launched: the Global Executive MBA (GEMBA).
“We are always looking to innovate to meet the needs of our students and help give them an edge,” said Nigel Banister, CEO and Chief Global Officer of MBS at the programs launch in Dubai. “As a global business school, MBS is at the forefront of business education.
“GEMBA is a new programme which aims to act as a springboard to the boardroom for the most senior executives looking to become business leaders.”
Students at MBS already have an average work experience of six years while many are around 30 years old. But the GEMBA is designed for senior business leaders whom are looking to move into the boardroom.
Over 20 months, GEMBA students will have 70 per cent face to face contact time and a more personalised and intense learning experience.
“It's a very different learning and development journey and meets the needs of executives looking for more direct personalised support,” Nigel said. “There will be more face to face contact time and networking opportunities, which are highly valued by students. It will be a life transforming experience."
That is a bold statement, but one that is backed-up by the learning locations. They are each significant. MBS Middle East Centre has already become the largest and fastest growing regional centre in the MBS international network, with 2,000 former students in the region.
There are many MBA programmes that offer exchanges and the opportunity to learn in the Middle East, but MBS’s new EMBA seeks to place students at the top of the career ladder in some of the most powerful economies on the globe.
The UAE, where GEMBA students will get the chance to study in Dubai, has grown in stature since last year, reflecting substantial improvements in business freedom, monetary freedom, better management of government spending and a greater freedom from corruption.
It is ranked in the top-three of 15 countries in the Middle East/North Africa region and is higher than world averages. While the investment regime may remain restrictive, the UAE economy performs competitively in many areas of economic freedom.
Bahrain and Qatar remain regional leaders, with the latter achieving a gob-smacking 18.8 per cent growth. Compared to the floundering economies of Europe, of which many countries still attempt to claw their way out of recession, the Middle East is an attractive option for any MBA to do business in.
With the new MBS programme delivered in both Dubai and Shanghai, among other locations, there is also a significant opportunity to break into the Asian region. China remains an economic powerhouse and BusinessBecause last month reported a growing trend in international students using the country as a gateway to international careers in Asia.
The GEMBA is split into three elements: a comprehensive academic programme led by top faculty; ‘The Reflective Manager’ course, that aims to evaluate decision making, problem solving and management styles; the GEMA+ element, that offers a range of additional experiences from high-level networking to personal coaching.
Randa Bessiso, Middle East Director of Manchester Business School, praised the opportunities available to break into the Middle East. “In the Middle East, MBS' success has been based partly on a powerful blended learning model of delivery,” she said.
“GEMBA reflects the real desire and demand for a more personalised blended MBA experience that still offers all the benefits of learning whilst working, but with substantial direct personal contact with some of the world's leading thought leaders in their fields.”
The Middle East MBA market is booming and employers have increased their hiring of MBA graduates over the past year. According to a QS Top MBA report released this year, there has been a 21 per cent increase in MBA demand throughout 2012 among employers. The report predicts that demand for MBAs will increase to 23 per cent by the end of 2013.
UAE showed a staggering 57 per cent jump in MBA demand, according to the report, led by banking, energy and IT companies with offices in the region. Using the MBS GEMBA to springboard into a top MBA Job in the region has never been a more attractive option.
Murali Krishman, Head of HR at Byrne Investments in Dubai, said that the biggest constraint to more MBA graduates launching careers in the Middle East was their “willingness and ability to relocate” to the region.
David Gelber, a financial expert and former COO of ICAP, said that in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, financial career options are on the rise. “When Bahrain ran out of oil, it decided to become a financial centre,” he said at a recent BusinessBecause event.
“But that is changing rapidly. Dubai’s tax free zone is running over Bahrain. Very rapidly we have seen expansion in Dubai and it is turning itself into an important financial sector.”
The MBS Middle East launch follows the global launch of GEMBA in China last month.
Cass Business School has an Executive MBA degree in Dubai and Duke's Fuqua School of Business, based in the US, offers a Global Executive MBA with opportunities to learn in Dubai, among other locations.
Chicago Booth, based in Washington, also offers an MBA/Master's in Middle Eastern Studies. Can MBS set a new trend among UK-based b-schools?
To find out more about the GEMBA at MBS, click here.