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IMD MBAs go on impactful Discovery Expedition to the UAE

Participants were immersed in the regional business context, energy industry and high-powered companies
September 2017

IMD’s current class of MBAs just returned from a series of trips to discover the business contexts and specialized industries in a number of regions around the world.

One of these trips was to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates where participants were able to explore a country in the midst of diversification in the quest of building an economy that is less reliant on natural resources.

The MBAs were introduced to the geo-economics and politics in the United Arab Emirates as well as the energy industry which has historically been a major economic driver for the region. They gained better understanding about the regional challenges such as water stress and unemployment. The trip also allowed participants to understand the UAEs’ role in the greater Middle East and North Africa region.

One of the highlights of the 11-day trip was a company visit to Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, where the MBAs were presented Project Panorama, a major digital transformation initiative which will introduce the most advanced digital technology in oil exploitation and control to date. It will also centralize management of all of the company’s activities around the world.

Next up the class visited the Abu Dhabi Culture and Tourism Authority which has successfully transformed Abu Dhabi into a cultural destination that now hosts some of the world’s most prestigious museums like the Louvre, the Guggenheim and others. This was followed by a visit to an Emirati Palace, an amazing architectural monument built in a central location in Abu Dhabi showing a unique example of blending traditional and modern styles.

Another one of the high points of the trip was a visit to First Abu Dhabi Bank, the largest bank in the Middle East. During a visit to TECOM technology and media clusters in Dubai the class got to hear from the company’s Chief Strategist. At Emirate Airlines, the students learned about how the company went from its inception to becoming one of the top airlines in the world. They were also allowed a rare visit to the airline’s vast control and crisis rooms.

The trip also included a visit to Dubai Port World, which an entire economic zone was built around. Successful MBAs from former classes active in the region, such as Seif Shieshakly, Managing Director of Four Principles Company, also came and presented their stories to the current class, which served as inspiration for the future.

Other visits included DAMAC, the second largest private-owned real estate company in the Middle East.

The trip ended on a high note with a Navigating the Future/MBA Alumni event and a session on scenario planning with Dr Hischam El-Agamy, IMD Representative for the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, who led the discovery expedition.

According to Hischam, the expedition was a great opportunity for the MBAs to learn about the business context in a region which still has enormous potential. “The MBAs were exposed to great success stories in the UAE and their positive impact on the region. During the last day of the expedition the MBAs focused on building future scenarios around all the initiatives they saw and the very ambitious vision of the country. The program was a very rich learning experience but also they were exposed IMD’s MBAs had a rich program and to numerous recruiting opportunities throughout the time we were there.”

Read the IMD MBA Blog for more on the Expeditions.