Dean of Suleiman Olayan School of Business shares his vision for the future of business education in MENA

QS caught up with, Dr Yusuf Sidani, Dean of the Suleiman Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut (AUB), who sheds light on the institution’s rich history and its pivotal role as a MENA leader in business education.

According to the QS Global MBA Rankings 2023, the American University of Beirut’s Suliman S. Olayan School of Business (AUB) has achieved notable recognition in the MENA region: AUB’s full-time MBA programme was ranked as the best in the region, securing the 79th position globally among leading business schools and programmes worldwide. This accomplishment highlights the school’s commitment to providing a high-quality MBA education and equipping students with essential skills for the evolving global business landscape

Established in 1866, AUB’s School of Business has evolved over time, making significant strides as a globally recognised and renowned institution offering prestigious degree programmes, including BBA, MBA, and specialised master’s degrees.

The role of business schools in the MENA region

business education

Dr Sidani articulated the school’s vision for business education in the MENA region. He emphasised the remarkable progress witnessed over the past few decades, transforming the landscape from a handful of good business schools to a thriving hub of business education across the Middle East, the Levant, and North Africa. This progress is driven by a growing realisation of the region’s vital role in the global economy, with the presence of crucial industries such as oil and centres of commerce.

Central to the school’s ethos is its commitment to ethical leadership and societal well-being. As a private, non-profit institution, the Suleiman Olayan School of Business takes pride in providing a distinct education, departing from the conventional notion of profit-maximisation as the primary objective of business. Dr Sidani highlighted the emphasis on teaching students to run effective organisations while prioritising ethical practices, community wellbeing, and sustainability.

Economic and health crises in Lebanon

Addressing the dynamic challenges faced by the school, Dr Sidani candidly discusses the recent economic and health crises in Lebanon. Despite these hurdles, AUB’s resilience shines through, bolstered by a strong alumni network, an active administration, and a vibrant board of trustees. The school’s determination to continuously contribute to business education remains unwavering, thanks to its faculty members embracing transformative changes and remaining committed to research and educational missions.

As the institution embarks on the accreditation process with EFMD Equis, Dr Sidani revealed the reasoning behind this significant step. Engaging with EFMD over the years and attending conferences has allowed the school to see the immense value in the accreditation process, aligning with the school’s vision of internationalisation, ethical business practices, and sustainability.

Ensuring the relevancy and effectiveness of business education in the global market is paramount to the Suleiman Olayan School of Business. Dr Sidani shares the school’s elaborate process of programme review, continuous benchmarking with like-minded institutions, and creating diverse opportunities for students to learn beyond the classroom borders. The emphasis on international exposure, exchange programmes, and partnerships further enriches the educational experience, transforming the lives of students and preparing them for a dynamic and interconnected world.

In conclusion, Dr Yusuf Sidani provides valuable insights into the vision, achievements, and challenges faced by the Suleiman Olayan School of Business at AUB. As a pioneering institution, the school’s commitment to academic excellence, ethical leadership, and fostering economic growth in the MENA region is poised to make a significant impact on the global stage.

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