When USF Professor Mouwafac Sidaoui sent his original research to a Chancellor at a public university in Dubai, he did not expect to spend his spring break in the United Arab Emirates, eating lunch with royalty and enlightening others on his work.
When Dr. Tayeb Al Kamali, Vice Chancellor of Higher Colleges of Technology in the U.A.E., received Professor Sidaoui’s piece, he invited the Lebanese native to be a Delegate/Mentor at the 2009 Education Without Borders Conference.
“When my research was done, I sent it to the participants in the study and the Communication Director at the Higher College of Technology (in Dubai) called me and asked me if I wanted to go and present my research in December,” he said. Professor Sidaoui got a call back in November asking him if he could hold off until the conference six months later than scheduled, and he agreed to do so. “There were 500 students and 100 faculty members from around the world,” said Sidaoui, who had the opportunity to present his original work, entitled “Transformation Leadership Practices of Deans and the Perceived Organizational Culture of the United Arab Emirates Public Universities” at the conference.
Professor Sidaoui began working on his research in 1994 after he visited a friend in Dubai and was fascinated by the culture and educational system.
“Dubai is where east meets west,” said Sidaoui, noting that only 10 percent of Dubai’s population is native to Dubai, and the rest are from other pars of the world. Because of this, Dubai is one of the few places in the world where western and eastern culture are living side by side.
“In Dubai, you see a woman dressed in a vale walking next to a women dressed in short sleeves,” he said, explaining the range of the cultural spectrum in Dubai and the role of women, who make up between 60-70% of Dubai’s higher education students.
After his 1994 trip Sidaoui bgan his research, which was done both online and by traveling to the United Araba Emirates. Sidaoui’s reseach is not specific to Dubai, but is relevant to the entire U.A.E. Professor Sidaoui’s trip to Dubai was not all work. Sidaoui was able to eat lunch one afternoon with Prince sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan of Dubai.
“It’s amazing, the networking that goes on over there,” said Sidaoui. Just by meeting a few people, I was able to meet and talk to the President of the Al-Jazeera Network as well as his Highness.”
Professor Sidaoui said he did not realize how important this conference was until he got there. “I had my picture and my name on the plasma T.V’s all over campus,” he said. “It made me feel like this was much more important than I originally thought.”
Professor Sidaoui was highly impressed with the educational system for the natives in Dubai. According to Professor Sidaoui, every born citizen of Dubai gets a free education from the time they begin school through college. Assuming they meet requirements, students can also receive a free post-graduate education. This system coincides with what Professor Sidaoui described as Dubai’s “community culture” that differs from the U.S.
“Over there, everything you do impacts the community. You learn to engage and listen to people at a young age,” he said. After visiting Dubai and doing extensive research in the U.A.E, Professor Sidaoui is highly optimistic about the job market in Dubai, though it is not perfect.
“The hospitality industry was hit hard,” he said. “But it’s a different job market out there for students. Sidaoui noted that there are many jobs in Dubai that are catered to English speakers, and there are no federal taxes.
“Visas are easy to obtain,” he said. “I would encourage students to check it out.
The conference his held biennially in Dubai and Professor Sidaoui plans on attending the conference again, this time with company.
“I want take some top USF students with me next time, not only business students, but any students,” he said.