MBA in Dubai | TopMBA

Dubai has vaulted onto the world stage as a city with a massive influx of business, wealth and influence, and an MBA in Dubai can position a graduate to succeed, no matter what MBA specialization they have their heart set on.  

As one of seven constituent emirates of the UAE - a country often held to represent one of world’s most important emerging markets - Dubai itself has been described as the Middle East’s melting pot for its ability to attract a diverse range of businesses, schools, and people.

Among the business schools that have branched out to Dubai are London Business School, Duke Fuqua, Hult International Business School, Alliance Manchester Business School and Cass Business School. For students who find the idea of working in Dubai appealing, these programs send graduates around the world, but can also help you access some of the best MBA jobs in Dubai at businesses like du (formerly known as ‘Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company’ or ‘EITC’), DP World, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), and Etisalat. This guide has plenty of information ranging from advice on how to study in Dubai to where to work after graduation.

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Image credit: Rus S / Shutterstock.com

Business Schools

As economic growth and activity propelled Dubai onto the international scene, as a key market within one of the world’s most promising emerging markets, top business schools soon responded by establishing campus presences  and partnerships in the emirate.

The other side of the Dubai business school coin, however, comes with its options available from domestic schools and providers. Since these universities and institutions in Dubai are relatively new to the MBA market, they have not yet been able to establish their programs to the point where they can compete with the international reputations of US and UK business schools that enjoy a presence in Dubai.

Business schools in Dubai (domestic)

Zayed University

Zayed University is the youngest of three UAE government-sponsored universities in the UAE and has campuses in Dubai in Abu Dhabi. Established in 1998, its business school features an AACSB-accredited executive MBA (EMBA) in Dubai that runs for 24 months and is open to men and women of all nationalities.

University of Dubai

Founded in 1997, the University of Dubai aims to prepare graduates for truly international careers through its College of Business Administration (CBA), whether they’re looking to take up MBA jobs in Dubai and the UAE, or elsewhere in the world. The university’s MBA program is AACSB-accredited and has a curriculum designed to allow students to simultaneously sit for professional qualifications such as SHRM, CFM, and CFA Level 1 in the US and CIPS and CIM in the UK.

International Business Schools in Dubai

Duke Fuqua

As with its fellow international business schools with a base in Dubai, Duke Fuqua established its presence on the back of the potential the US school saw in one of the Middle East’s leading emerging markets.

The Dubai campus currently plays host to courses in executive education and aims to connect prospective students with its US-based MBA program as well as its ‘Cross Continent’ MBA – a format that combines distance learning with courses spread across residency periods in different locations around the world.

London Business School

As the current leader in QS’s regional MBA rankings for Europe, London Business School (LBS) aims to bring its ideals and pursuit of excellence to the Middle East with the offering of an executive MBA from its campus in Dubai.

As with its London-based equivalent, the EMBA in Dubai is designed to take a global view in providing participants with access to influential markets, organizations and business leaders.

Cass Business School

The Dubai Centre is City University of London, Cass Business School’s Dubai campus and is located in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) – a financial district that has established its own court system and financial laws to facilitate the standards and practice of international business.

Cass Business School moved into the DIFC in 2007 from where it now offers an executive MBA alongside shorter course and tailor-made executive education.

Manchester Business School

Manchester Business School’s Middle East International Centre, Dubai is another instance of a top business school recognizing the power of Dubai among emerging markets.

As one of six international centers run by Manchester Business School, students in Dubai have access to the school’s part-time and global executive MBA programs. Again, the onus is on preparing graduates for global roles as well as for any MBA jobs taken in Dubai or the UAE.

Hult International Business School

Dubai plays host to one of Hult’s seven international campus locations and students can study the school’s full-time global MBA in the city, as well as its part-time global EMBA degree and a one-year pre-experience master’s program. Each of these programs allows participants to combine their study in Dubai with study at another of Hult’s campuses.  

Bradford University

An executive MBA can also be found on offer at the Dubai campus of Bradford University - situated in the Dubai Knowledge Village, an educational hub that emphasizes the international. The two year, part-time EMBA was established back in 1996, making it one of the first of its kind to be offered in the UAE.

The University of Wollongong

The University of Wollongong (UOW) – home to Sydney Business School – also has a presence in the Dubai Knowledge Village – a place that is designed to be a base for educational training. At UOW in Dubai (UOWD), a part-time MBA program is on offer as well as a range of specialized master’s degrees.

Dubai's business bay area

Because Dubai stands among the world’s most dynamic emerging markets, the number of MBA jobs in Dubai (i.e. those for which employers look to the skillsets of MBA graduates) has grown steadily in recent years, in large part because of the increasing acceptance of the qualification and the positive reception it now finds among employers in Dubai and indeed, the Middle East as a whole.

The Emirates’ centrality in Middle Eastern markets is sure to make working in Dubai an appealing option for many. Graduates from business schools in Dubai, whether domestic or international, looking to work within the region should find career options in anything from IT to logistics. In addition, many of the Middle East’s largest banks are headquartered in Dubai. Telecommunications is another strong industry that offers plenty of employment opportunities for anyone looking at working in Dubai. Listed below are the top ten companies in the UAE, as complied in 2014 by Gulf Business:

Etisalat (Emirates Telecommunication Corp): Telecommunications

Emaar Properties: Real estate

First Gulf Bank (FGB): Financial services

National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD): Banking

DP World Ltd: International shipping and logistics

Emirates NBD Bank: Financial services

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB): Banking

Aldar Properties: Real estate

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB): Financial services

Dubai Financial Market (DFM): Financial services/stock exchange

Culture

Although Dubai attracts some of the world’s richest people, it is a place steeped is Islamic culture and traditions. Students and tourists must therefore be mindful of Islamic norms when they venture outside areas frequented by expats and the international community.

In this respect, Dubai can present an interesting dichotomy where nightclubs, expensive bars and restaurants, and other forms of entertainment draw a very non-Islamic crowd to the heart of the Middle East – a place that is ultimately governed by the very differing principles of Islamic culture. Alcohol, for example, is not allowed outside of places designated as ‘tourist’ bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Because of this split between tourism and tradition, Dubai is one of the more liberal cities in the Middle East, but visitors should still dress conservatively – slacks and collared shirts for men and below knee length dresses for women – when venturing around the city, especially when journeying to any historical or religious sites.

Arabic remains the main language spoken but, because of its international stature, you’ll encounter numerous other languages being spoken, including English. The Friday-Saturday weekend in Dubai is also a reflection of its Arabic history and its international appeal. However, the emirate is also home to a Hindu temple, a Sikh gurdwara, various Protestant churches, a Catholic church, and a Greek Orthodox church for worshippers of different faiths.

Studying in Dubai

If you wish to study in Dubai, any of the schools mentioned in this guide should be able to help you with the necessary information about entering the country, finding accommodation, things to do in Dubai, and any possibilities of working in Dubai during the course of your study. But, here are some useful resources with that information in mind:

Visa

The US Consulate offers three types of visas for the UAE, but in order to study in Dubai, you are required to have an institution-sponsored student visa. Luckily, the universities are prepared for this and you can often find helpful information on a school’s website, for example at the University of Wollongong in Dubai.

Financial Aid

Forms of funding will be specific to individual universities and schools, but if you contact an institution’s financial aid department, they will be able to answer any questions you may have about scholarships, grants, loans, or work-study programs on offer.

Housing

Websites like Dubizzle, JustRentals, and Propertyfinder can be a useful resource for those looking for flats, apartments, studios, or homes to rent while they study in Dubai. Again, each university should be able to provide assistance with this process as each will have excellent knowledge of the area surrounding their campus and will be used to the needs and preferences of international students in this regard. 

Contacting your university or business school’s admissions office can also help you with other pertinent information, such as:

  • Budgeting for room and board
  • Availability of shopping centers, grocery stores and entertainment options
  • Public transportation, taxis, or any rideshare options
  • Country specific requirements for individual students.