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Georgetown launch a sign of growing US presence in Dubai

Georgetown University students Reuters
Georgetown University is based in Washington DC but is welcoming more than 50 students to its MBA programme in its Dubai base
  • Georgetown MBA now in Dubai
  • 1,500 US businesses in UAE
  • ‘Dynamic business environment’ is attractive

Georgetown University has launched its business programme in Dubai as more US companies set up shop in the UAE.

The Washington DC-based university’s McDonagh School of Business this week welcomed its first cohort of 53 students to its new Executive MBA.

Located in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Academy, the 19-month programme covers business and global affairs, public-private partnerships, business analytics, sustainability, the future of work and fintech.

Paul Almeida, dean at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, described Dubai as the “centre of the emerging markets in the world”.

He explained that only 12 percent of applicants are accepted into the MBA programme in Washington.

“There’s a limit to what we can do from DC,” he said. “I think our challenge is to be able to go to other countries and offer a high-quality programme there.

“I think this part of the world is growing ever more important. I feel the centre of gravity of new business, new opportunities, is much closer to this part of the world than almost any other.”

Attractive opportunities

Despite the UAE’s increased influence on investment to and from the East, and China in particular, American businesses are continuing to find a home.

Mohamed Eldabaa, board director at the American Chamber of Commerce Dubai and Northern Emirates, told AGBI the number of new members this year was the highest the organisation has witnessed in its 26-year history. It currently boasts a membership of 400.

“The UAE is providing a massive healthy environment for businesses to relocate or expand here,” he said.

There are more than 1,500 US businesses operating in the UAE across a wide spectrum of sectors including consumer packaging goods, oil and gas, energy, food and beverages, entertainment, automotive and aerospace.

Ethara, an event management company in the UAE, this week announced a joint venture with Oak View Group. It will allow the US-based arena developer to expand into the Middle East as it looks to transform the live entertainment and hospitality sectors in the region.

Scott Cairns, managing director of Creation Business Consultants in Dubai, revealed that July and August recorded a 116 percent increase in US incoming leads “driven by the economic reform, political stability, dynamic business environment and attractive opportunities presented in the UAE”.

In May, James Gorman, chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley said Dubai had gained the worldwide financial industry’s trust as one of the most productive hubs for business growth and expansion.

According to a report by DIFC, 30 percent of the hedge funds in Dubai were established within the last 12 months, collectively managing more than $1 trillion in assets worldwide. The majority comes from New York-based firms, including AQR Capital Management and Lighthouse Investment Partners.

Kunal Fabiani, CEO of Americas and Africa at Healy Consultants Group – part of Hawksford, said high-net-worth individuals, crypto entrepreneurs and techpreneurs have swollen the ranks of US individuals operating in the UAE.

The UAE has been the number one export market in the Middle East for the US since 2009. 

Bilateral trade between the two countries was almost $28 billion in 2022. The US has a $14 billion trade surplus with the UAE, its sixth-largest trade surplus globally.

“Dubai has always been open,” said Almeida. “I think it’s always been a pragmatic and energetic city; always been forward-looking.”