350 influential alumni from the leading French business, engineering and government schools gathered in the Sofitel Dubai Downtown for the first Joint Grandes Ecoles Alumni event
The French community is strong in the UAE with more than 25.000 residents, this entails strong economic ties, as mentioned by Laurent Fabius, France foreign Minister during his recent visit to the UAE last week accompanied by Minister Anne-Marie Idrac, special envoy for the French Government in the UAE, who supports these ties thanks to her regular visits to the UAE.
In addition, French Grandes ecoles alumni are strongly positioned in the UAE: some have campuses here as well, so the alumni have a very international background.
As a result, the top 14 French leading schools alumni associations decided to organize an exclusive event to foster cooperation and development in the UAE in the fields of business, culture and education. It was aptly held on the Sofitel Dubai Downtown terrace overlooking the Burj Khalifa in presence of H.E. Majid Al Ghurair Chairman of Dubai chamber.
A strong presence of French-trained executives within the UAE economy
Michel Miraillet, French Ambassador commented: “I am very impressed by the number of bright and entrepreneurial people trained in French leading schools who are now working here for French companies, international companies and Emirati companies. This highlights the quality of these schools as well as their internationalisation. We need to foster even closer ties with UAE universities for that matter.”
The 14 schools represented form the elite schools of France, a longstanding tradition with some created more than 200 years ago in the engineering field (Ecole Normale Superieure, Polytechnique, Centrale, Mines, Ponts, Telecom, Supelec), Business (INSEAD, HEC, ESSEC, ESCP, EMLYON) and government (Science Po, ENA).
“The French community is vibrant in many fields in Dubai as this gathering is demonstrating” commented Majdi Abed, France Consul General in Dubai.
Thierry Aucoc, Senior Vice-President, Emirates Airlines; emphasized the successes of Emirates globally and how it will continue to thrive thanks to the talents assembled in Dubai and the optimism which drive the country. Similarly, after delivering a powerful speech, Alain Renaud, General Manager of Commercial Bank of Dubai, concluded on a note of optimism “I think 2016 will be over before we know it and that things will be back on track sooner than we expect.”
A first to gather so many high calibre French “Grandes Ecoles” alumni
“The event allowed me to realize how many helpful connections I could make in such a brief time, noted a participant”. “It was also way more international and not only French, as I would have expected, commented another one.”
The 350 participants, among which more than 100 C-suite and senior executives met with other fellow alumni, Emirati executives and representatives from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce as well as the French business Council.
People gathered and exchanged around 7 networking tables each focusing on a different sector: 1. Energy, Oil and gas, 2. Luxury, consumer goods and retail, 3. Financial Services, 4. Media, Technology and Healthcare, 5. Industry, aerospace and defence, 6. Transportation, tourism, 7. Professional and consulting services.
The event was a great opportunity for high calibre people of different profiles to mingle: senior members of large UAE and international companies, government entities and entrepreneurial start-ups with more than 30 nationalities represented. It was a showcase of how diverse and high level the Dubai executive community is.
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The Grandes Écoles, (literally in French "Grand Schools", meaning "Elite Schools") of France are higher education establishments outside the main framework of the French university system. The Grandes Écoles select students for admission based chiefly on national ranking in competitive written and oral exams, selecting the first percentile of an age group. Usually, the Grandes Écoles do not have large student bodies: most have a few hundred students each year.
They have historically produced many if not most of France's high-ranking civil servants, politicians and executives, as well as many scientists, writers and philosophers. Most of the Grandes Écoles teach either science or business. Globally, they play a similar role as prestige or elite higher education institutions in the English speaking world, despite different official status and functioning.
From left to Right: Thierry Aucoc, SVP Emirates; Majdi Abed, France Consul General in Dubai; Iannis Mardell ADGAS/ZarooqMotors; H.E. Michel Miraillet, French ambassador; H.E. Majid Al Ghurair, Dubai Chamber Chairman; Alain Renaud, GM commercial Bank of Dubai; Rashid Al Jarwan, Chairman Danagas.