Learning to do business with China

Students in the Middle East are developing a taste for ‘Doing business in China’ (DBIC) as new electives in the MBA course reflects growing interest in developing business relations between the two countries.

By Muaz Shabandari

Published: Tue 29 Nov 2011, 9:26 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:40 AM

China may be the second largest economy in the world and the UAE’s second largest trade partner, but there are significant challenges to developing bilateral trade and relations to their full potential, experts say.

According to Professor CAI Maosen, a Chinese professor at the University of Tongji in Shanghai, China, the major challenges to doing business in China range from culture to values and languages.

He recommends that the GCC should build cross cultural expertise through bilateral education, and the promotion of China as a tourist destination.

The challenge was taken up by Manchester Business School’s (MBS) MBA Study Centre in Dubai, following the launch of a special elective module which takes MBA students to China.

More than 150 MBS students worldwide have already attended the course in China, which was launched by the school in January last year. MBA students at MBS in the Middle East are increasingly interested in the new module through which they undertake an intensive workshop at the MBS centre in Shanghai, China, in conjunction with MBS’ partner university in China (University of Tongji) and led by local Chinese faculty.

“From a Gulf perspective, the major challenges to doing business with China mainly lay in law, culture, traditional customs, religious beliefs, values and languages. For example, few employees in Chinese companies can speak Arabic, or vice versa,” says Prof Maosen. Ashok Bhadra was among the students travelling from Dubai to China to study a course module. He described his experience as ‘remarkable’.

“China presents a great opportunity to do business and travelling to China provided a way to better understand their culture. Any international university offering a structured course in China provides students with a golden opportunity,” says Ashok who manages the international investment portfolio of a leading bank in Dubai.

Ashok took along his family during his study as he also toured several cities in China. During the course of his stay, Ashok got to meet several entrepreneurs in China including CEOs of top companies and leading industrialists.

“Travelling to another country provides you with a lot of cultural values and a deeper understanding of how things work differently. It adds a lot of value to the course and brings a new perspective all together,” adds Ashok.

Eight MBA students have already attended the module and another 10 students are in China for this semester.

According to Randa Bessiso, Middle East Director, MBS, many multinational companies enter China’s market and some succeed while others fails, in this large and complex market.

“The MBA elective teaches a wide range of knowledge, from the current situation of China’s economy to cross cultural communications and marketing and branding strategies for China. By the end of the programme, students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of China’s development, priorities set by the Chinese government, and comparative strengths and weaknesses of China’s economy, business practices and culture.”


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