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8 MBA programs for Studying Abroad in Dubai

Dubai's International Airport could host more international travelers than London or Paris within the next few years, according to The National. With significant expansion underway, the airport represents just one facet of the United Arab Emirates' rapid growth as a business and tourism hotspot. Dubai boasts extravagant architecture, lavish resorts and a booming cultural scene. These eight MBA study abroad programs bring students to Dubai so they can meet local business leaders, develop international connections and build problem-solving skills while enjoying the region's hospitality. This complex city has had its brushes with labor controversies, providing students with an opportunity to examine issues that may occur in global organizations. Whether you're seeking an MBA in international business or a cross-cultural experience to beef up your global business background, you can explore overseas adventures such as these:

    • College of Charleston School of Business, Charleston, SC: Every year, instructors from the College of Charleston lead their one-year MBA candidates on a mandatory trip to investigate industrial development in an expanding market such as the UAE. The school's 12-day Dubai adventure in 2013 included site visits to companies in a variety of industries, including finance and tourism. MBA candidates can apply the knowledge they gain from interviews and lectures when they take capstone courses upon their return to South Carolina.

    • Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, Durham, NC: Dubai marks one of multiple locations where participants in the Cross Continent MBA and Global executive MBA programs can gain broad perspective to apply toward their goal of leadership in business. During a concentrated residency, MBA candidates conduct case studies and collaborate with global cohort members. The school describes opportunities to hear guest lecturers from global companies or government ministries. Duke's extensive alumni network includes a strong Middle East contingent ready to host networking receptions for visiting students.

    • Hult International Business School, Boston, MA and San Francisco, CA: This school's MBA program allows international travel and study abroad in Dubai as one of the available locations for the global campus rotation. Proximity to Dubai Internet City offers access to nearby startup incubators along with regional headquarters of familiar brands. Students have an opportunity to network with executives of global companies and enjoy group events, such as the team-building adventure day and the Lebanon World Island excursion. With some students staying in Dubai for up to three months out of a one-year MBA program, participants enjoy more time to explore the city's nightlife and cultural centers.

    • Rochester Institute of Technology - Saunders College of Business, Rochester, NY: Although RIT established its Dubai campus to extend its brand of professional education to students in the Middle East, the location also lends itself to U.S.-based MBA students who want to expand their horizons. With the right planning, students in RIT's full-time MBA programs can spend one or more quarters in Dubai. Students have learned in the midst of Dubai Silicon Oasis, a major center of electronic innovation and design. While they're not in class, students can visit museums, experience in-door skiing, or even ride a camel through the desert.

    • Thunderbird School of Global management, Glendale, AZ: For a few weeks each year, students in diverse MBA programs can participate in Thunderbird's Winterims. These competitive, compressed courses drop global MBA candidates into foreign environments that highlight the challenges of doing business abroad. Over the course of the program, the Dubai Winterim course "Challenges in Emerging Middle Eastern Economic Centers" leads students through the complexities of this rapidly expanding market. The course highlights some risks of operating in a high-growth environment marked by multiculturalism. Class organizers emphasize opportunities to build strong, global connections during the program.

    • University of Iowa - Tippie School of Management, Iowa City, IA: MBA programs for professionals and managers include studies in UAE's Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The trip includes visits to companies that reflect the region's recent diversification beyond oil and into real estate, finance, tourism and information technology. Over the course of seven packed days, students compare notes over lunch and dinner and EMBArk on excursions to cultural centers. Past trips have highlighted desert architecture, semiconductor production in an environment dominated by sand and Islamic influences on finance.

    • The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA: Penn's Lauder Institute has spent three decades developing cross-cultural management techniques and mixing international MBA courses from the Wharton School with classes from the university's School of Arts and Sciences. Students in Penn's Arabic Language and Culture Program, available to Joint MBA/MA and JD/MA students, can visit Tunisia, Dubai and Morocco. Along with courses on global business trends and oil economics, students may investigate the impact of the Arab Spring and the evolution of Arabic social institutions. Previous visits to businesses in Dubai have included Emirates Airlines, Dubai International finance Center and Dubai Media City.

    • Villanova University - Villanova School of Business, Villanova, PA: During winter break, Villanova offers its MBA students an almost three-week excursion to the American University in the Emirates. Participants may mix lectures from local instructors with site visits to the Dubai Stock Exchange and government offices. Potential areas of study include Islamic banking, marketing strategy and economics. Time permitting, students may also explore business sites in the neighboring Emirates. Outside of the classroom, past participants have experienced opportunities to mount camels in the desert, shop at the Mall of the Emirates and snap photos at the top of the world's tallest building.

Global MBA programs constantly evolve to match market demands, so specific courses and programs are subject to change. It's important to request the latest information from whatever school you're interested in. International business MBA candidates can use study abroad experiences such as these to gain first person insight into the challenges of leading global enterprises through a new century.


"Dubai airport handles record number of passengers in first half of this year," The National, July 29, 2013, http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/aviation/dubai-airport-handles-record-number-of-passengers-in-first-half-of-this-year

"Expatriate workers say employers are filing false absconding cases," gulfnews.com, July 28, 2013, http://gulfnews.com/mba-headlines/gulf/uae/employment/expatriate-workers-say-employers-are-filing-false-absconding-cases-1.1214134