Doing an MBA in the United Arab Emirates offers an enticing mix of the old and the new, which makes it a popular destination for international students from across the globe. UAE’s biggest city, Dubai, is the epitome of a 21st-century city, with vast manmade structures and a huge expat population. But, dig a little deeper beyond the gleaming skyscrapers and you’ll find an ancient history that stretches back thousands of years. Although the country’s wealth is traditionally associated with oil, less than 5% of its revenue actually comes from oil, with the economy long since having diversified into financial services, trade, and tourism.
The UAE government has invested significant amounts of money into its higher education sector, making its universities some of the most cutting-edge in the world. This investment has also attracted several foreign universities from the UK and the US, with the likes of Alliance Manchester Business School, London Business School, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) all setting up campuses in Dubai. They complement the country’s own universities which have been steadily climbing the rankings in recent years, students no doubt attracted by the ultra-modern campuses, world-class international faculties, and the alluring prospect of paying no income tax post-graduation.
The United Arab Emirates has one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world, which means the cost of studying in the UAE is quite high. The cost of an MBA in the United Arab Emirates is likely to cost at least EUR€15,000, though some will be considerably more. Living costs start at AED3,000 (US$816) per month, excluding rent – and are even higher in major cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
All international students need a student visa to do an MBA in the United Arab Emirates. In order to obtain a student visa, you must supply an official admissions letter from your university, a visa sponsor (either the university or a parent or relative), approval of the relevant General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), and pass a medical fitness test. A student visa in the UAE is relevant for one year and costs AED100 (US$27) for issuance and renewal.
Universities in the UAE are steadily rising in global university rankings after a period of sustained investment from the national government. Currently, the United Arab Emirates University, the University of Sharjah, Khalifa University, and the American University in Dubai (AUD) all reside at the top of university rankings in the UAE. The country also houses some of the best MBA programs in the world with top-ranked business schools, including Hult International Business School, London Business School, and INSEAD.
The United Arab Emirates has a high-income economy but no income tax, which means graduates who settle in the UAE could secure a highly financially rewarding role. The country has an extremely low unemployment rate in general and around 10% of the population hold a master’s degree or MBA. Leading industries in the UAE are retail, hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and media.
In a country where the expat population is some 88%, there are naturally also a huge number of international students in the United Arab Emirates. Most courses are taught in English and a number of universities from across the world have secondary campuses in the country.
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