Florian Breuckner, Class of 2016 gives an account of the recent Dubai study tour
How do you teach students – in five days – about a diverse region or country, taking into account culture, economic development and ways of doing business? The study tours offered as part of the Full-time MBA programme take on this challenge. I chose to participate in the Dubai study tour for one simple reason: I wanted to learn about a thriving region and experience its culture and business systems first-hand.
The ambitions of businesses and leaders in the UAE, which aim to transform a whole region, are inspiring and ambitious. By seeing how these bold developments are coordinated, what steps are taken and how the region´s background and history influence these, I now better understand the rationale and soundness of this strategy.
On the first day, we visited Mubadala in Abu Dhabi, a government-owned company with 40,000 employees. Mubadala is active in numerous different sectors with a vision is to transform Abu Dhabi´s economy. It is also one of the most desired companies to work for in the UAE. We also went to Masdar City, a project headed by Mubadala to create an emission-free city in which the government brings together businesses, research and education in an unprecedented way.
On the second day, we visited MAN Diesel and Turbo to discuss the business environment in the UAE from the perspective of a western company. We were able to interact with the company’s general manager for the Middle East, who has lived and worked in Dubai for 8 years.
A three-day Comparative and International Business Studies course accompanied our study tour, which aimed to increase awareness about differences in business systems and how these affect ways of doing business. It was quite interesting to experience how aware practitioners really are about these differences (less than expected). Also of great value was the visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding on the third day, where we learned about the history, culture and interconnectedness of religion and business in the UAE.
So, has the study tour met my expectations? On the one hand, I believe I know a lot more about the region and had the chance to visit two interesting businesses in the UAE. On the other hand, I believe we did not take full advantage of the opportunities such a vibrant city as Dubai offers and I feel I have only been able to capture a small snapshot of what it means to do business in the UAE. There is so much more that we have not had a chance to look at, for instance Dubai´s ambitions to gain a stronger foothold in technology with the Media and Internet City free zones, or the numerous banks and financial institutions located in Dubai. You probably cannot see everything and in the end, I believe, each group making their way to one of the global centres should create their list of priorities and coordinate with the School to get the best value from their time abroad. The Dubai centre has been a very helpful and supportive resource.
It is the study tours where Alliance MBS can really bring together two of its strengths: the Manchester Method and its global presence. In today´s competitive environment, business schools need to differentiate to attract prospective students. Using the global presence and competence of the centres in Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sao Pãulo and Shanghai is a great value-add to the full-time MBA programme. Continuing and even increasing the opportunities to collaborate through the study tours and global electives is a great way for Manchester to offer some distinct value to students’ experiences.
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