x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The students' view of Abu Dhabi

The Government's role in the economy in the United Arab Emirates is 'an eye-opener.

Ghada Simon came to Abu Dhabi for a week with INSEAD's global executive programme in France. The 39-year-old works for the utility company Electricite de France (EDF) in Lebanon, and was keen to find out more about the emirate's energy projects. "They have been successful in their plans," Ms Simon said. "They have a vision and it's interesting to see the way they employ their natural resources such as oil to achieve that vision.

"Here you actually see a country that is still in its formative process. They have a goal as to where they want to go and they are achieving it. It's unique." As part of the programme, INSEAD usually takes its mature students to France or Singapore in their 15-month course. But since Abu Dhabi will launch a global executive MBA programme in October, it was decided to bring Ms Simon and the 73 fellow mature students to the UAE capital.

Daphne Cheo, 36, who works for the French bank Calyon in Singapore says she did not realise that the Government here played such a major role in the economy. "It has been an eye-opener to see how it is different and how the Government plays a very big part in the whole economy," she says. "In Singapore, the private sector is the one playing a bigger role in the economy." The multicultural environment and the chance to take courses in different locations have helped INSEAD stay ahead of other business schools, according to one student.

"It is a very exciting programme for two reasons: first, it is very global in terms of the locations and participants," says Michael Muller, 41, who works for Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt. "So we have a huge variety of nationalities here and its quite exciting to spend time with them in different locations. The second is the quality of the programme." Members of the party that arrived in Abu Dhabi believe they are now better equipped to deal with a variety of business challenges.

"I hope eventually to do something on my own as an entrepreneur," says Philipp Farenholtz, 36, a German investment banker. Hisham Aloram, 42, a physician from Riyadh, has also reaped tremendous benefits from the programme. "I have noticed that now I approach things in a different way, I think about things differently," he says. "It has definitely helped me change how I function." @Email:business@thenational.ae