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Esade Alumni Holds 4th Middle East Annual Meeting in Dubai

The event was a great success among alumni from the Gulf region and neighbouring countries.
Dubai Meeting

The fourth edition of the Esade Alumni Middle East Annual Meeting was held this January in Dubai. The programme of activities was geared towards sharing knowledge, networking, learning about new cultures and strengthening relations between Esade and the alumni community. The event was a great success among alumni from the Gulf region and neighbouring countries.

he meeting took place at Capital Club Dubai, an exclusive club for business leaders and entrepreneurs that can only be accessed by members.

Federico Ruiz (EMBA ‘17), President of the Esade Alumni UAE Chapter, and board members Magdalena Kucharska (EMBA ‘15) and Neveen Hussein (EMBA ‘20) welcomed the more than 60 alumni who attended the event. Most of the attendees work in the United Arab Emirates, but some travelled from other Middle Eastern countries because of their interest in the event, which brought together professionals from numerous backgrounds and industries. “I was happy to see how many people participated,” commented Federico Ruiz. “I felt that we had a fantastic, friendly and natural environment for networking. I was surprised by the number of entrepreneurs and interesting people we have in our chapter. I am sure that these connections will translate into various actions in a wide range of areas. I am very grateful to all of you for your participation,” commented Federico Ruiz.

Olaya Garcia (MBA ‘01), Director of Institutional Development and Engagement at Esade, Soraya Korkar (EMMS ‘21), Associate Director of Individual Giving and Development Communications, Judith Puigbò (DAF ‘00 / InDigital ‘17), Associate Director of Admissions and Recruitment at Esade, Iñaki Ocaña (Lic&MBA ‘06 / DARH ‘11), Global Relations and Careers Director at Esade Alumni, and Ariadna Vilalta, International Alumni Relations Manager responsible for chapters in the Gulf region, travelled from Barcelona to Dubai to join the alumni attendees for this experience.

Time for knowledge

The meeting was attended by Luis Vives, Vice-Dean of Programmes and Associate Professor of Strategy at Esade, Gabriele Burgio, Chairman and CEO of the leading Italian tour operator Alpitour World, and Manolo Márquez, Managing Partner at V3 Leaders and Executive in Residence at Esade Business School, who shared their experience and knowledge over the course of two sessions.

Dubai Meeting

Prof. Vives spoke about the three Ts of the future – technology, transformation and talent – and summed up the session with a great quote from Ayal Levin: “The biggest threat to business today is not digital technologies or increased competition. It’s loss of relevance and inability to adapt to change.”

Gabriele Burgio and Manolo Márquez were interviewed by Prof. Vives on the topic of leadership and business transformation. They highlighted the keys to successful projects, underscoring the fact that change must start with oneself and from within the organisation itself. For this, they insisted, it is important that we think for ourselves. At the same time, we must incorporate the innovation component into our leadership.

The Esade Scholarship Programme was also highlighted during the meeting, thanks to Soraya Korkar (EMMS ‘21), Associate Director of Individual Giving and Development Communications, and Juan Beltran (BBA ‘20), a former Esade scholarship student who is currently working in the region. Juan’s inspirational talk was well received by the audience. A good sum of money was also raised for the scholarship fund through the sale of Esade merchandise, which proved very popular among the alumni in attendance.


“A good sum of money was raised for the scholarship fund through the sale of Esade merchandise”


Cultural visit to the village of Saadi

The meeting continued in the afternoon with an inspiring activity designed to teach attendees more about the local culture and hospitality.

Right after the networking lunch, a group of 30 alumni and some of their family members, including five children, took part in the scheduled activity. A bus picked up the attendees and took them to the village of Saadi, located to the south of Ras Al Khaimah Airport.


“A group of 30 alumni and some of their family members, including five children, took part in the scheduled activity in the village of Saadi”


During the visit to Saadi, the attendees had the opportunity to visit the home of a local family (at the invitation of Sheikh Sultan bin Ali Al Khateri of the Khawatir tribe), visit the desert, learn about tribal relations and witness Bedouin hospitality. Tea, coffee, chocolates and pastries were served in the grand majlis of the family home. The attendees also got to watch a falcon training session and visit the stables, located just a few minutes outside the village, which were home to horses from all over the world. They also had the chance to taste traditional Bedouin food and discover different types of bread with honey and homemade butter.

The visit served as a reminder of how, in a country like the United Arab Emirates, tradition and modernity go hand in hand.

Dubai Meeting


Attendee feedback

Ona Serrà (Lic&MBA '03)

Ona Serra

“What we liked most about the visit to Saadi was that it was very genuine. We were pleasantly surprised at the way the family from Saadi opened the doors of their home and shared their hospitality and customs with us. Despite having lived in Dubai for more than 10 years, I had never experienced some of the things I experienced on that Saturday afternoon. For example, just when it seemed that the activity was wrapping up, they surprised us by inviting us to dinner at their home in a very natural and friendly way and introducing us to some of their relatives. It was a very emotional moment.

When I found out that my family could join me on the visit, I didn’t hesitate to sign up as it seemed like a fabulous idea. My family had a great time riding horses and holding a falcon. Ever since the visit, my daughters have been talking about the horse, the falcon, and how fast the falcons flew to find food.

I think one of the benefits of Esade activities that you can attend with your entire family is that it allows you to strike a balance and get the best of both worlds: sharing time with your family (not having to give up family time on a weekend) and being able to take advantage of the content and networking opportunities, which go beyond the professional, allowing us to get to know people on a personal level, as well. That makes the experience much more well-rounded. I am very grateful to Esade Alumni for giving us the chance to include our families in this recent event.”

Ahmed Moussa (EMBA 19), president of the Qatar Esade Alumni Chapter

Ahmed Moussa“Three years after the end of my Executive MBA and the disconnection caused by COVID-19, it was important for me to reconnect with alumni, professors and Esade staff. So I decided to travel from Qatar to Dubai for the Middle East Annual Meeting.

For me, networking is the most important aspect of the visit, since at these events I connect with most of the alumni in the region. I was able to meet new people from different countries and industries, and this helps me a lot in my career.

For alumni, I think this is a unique opportunity to refresh the MBA mindset and start thinking like an entrepreneur again. Meeting other people from different countries and cultures helps a lot in daily life, because it changes our way of thinking.”