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News & Press: Events 2012

Strategic regional insight delivered in ALTO seminar- Dubai

09 February 2012   (0 Comments)
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Strategic business information and experience about doing business in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was shared with ALTO members in our first seminar of the year. 
Held alongside the ICEF Dubai Workshop with David Brown ALTO host, the Market Intelligence Seminar welcomed a smaller number of members, compared with previous events, but all delegates warmly praised the incisive information about business opportunity, protocol and market demographics - not to mention scholarship opportunities for educators to consider.

Speakers included Peter Arnold of Study Link International, Tim Kerr-Dineen of Kings Colleges and Omar Madanat of education agency Educom Overseas, which has offices in Lebanon, Erbil in Iraq and Uzbekistan. All the speakers shared their extensive experience of working in the region - underlining the diverse approaches and requirements needed in countries that vary significantly.

Arnold delivered practical advice - such as how to cope with the heat and noting that the weekend in Saudi Arabia is Thursday/Friday - as well as personal insight about how to market to decision makers, building up strong personal bonds and the importance of delivering presentations. He also pointed out that securing business in the Middle East and North Africa means operational sensitivity; ensuring host families were considerate of Saudi students needs, for example. 

Kerr-Dineen, who has specialised in the Middle East for many years, focused some of his time on Iran; a market with good potential for self-funded university-oriented students although recent financial sanctions are proving a difficulty. With 80 million inhabitants, as he observed, it is a sizable source country, although not without its challenges.

He also touched upon regional scholarship programmes which deliver significant opportunity: the Human Capacity Development Program (HCDP) in Kurdistan, northern Iraq, which has US$100 million allocated; and the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme (KASP) in Saudi Arabia, which began in 2005 and will run until 2020. 

Madanat talked about Lebanon and Oman as well as Kurdistan, having broad experience in the region. He explained that HCDP was keen to avoid problems incurred with other scholarship schemes and ensure applicants had some good level of English before applying, although one year of English study could be accommodated within the scholarship award. He also gave details of more small-scale scholarship programmes that available in Oman. 

ALTO Member, Justin Quinn of CES, said the event had made him decide to amend his marketing focus already – and focus on more countries that the "big two”: Saudi Arabia and Libya. David O’Grady, CEO of MEI, which represents English language schools in Ireland, noted that one clear message he would now be sharing with his membership is that sales & marketing initiatives were a "slow-burning” process and that time and commitment was needed to grow market share here, in what was a region that Irish schools were not always active in. 

See more feedback from participants below, if you have problems viewing the video, please click here.

Visa problems in various countries were explained to delegates, but the overall take-home message was that for educators keen to invest in the region, especially those that can market in conjunction with degree opportunities, there is definitely business to be uncovered, with the HCDP in Kurdistan an exciting new opportunity, especially for UK-based institutions. 

Overall the seminar had a very positive feedback with members appreciating the speakers' vast knowledge and experience of the region: 

The recent ALTO Dubai seminar was the first ALTO event I have attended.  The topic was very relevant and the three speakers had a wealth of knowledge to impart.  I now have a much better insight into the culture and ways of doing business of the many different countries within the region.  I also came away with some very practical advice which we are looking forward to putting into practice.

Leanne Linacre, Director- LILA* Love to Learn
A thoroughly interesting open discussion delivered by speakers with many years industry experience on+ ‘How to do succeed in doing business with Middle East partners’. A well organised seminar for networking and sharing ideas and opportunities.

Noel Borg, Regional Director at EC, Middle East & North Africa

I was very impressed with the speakers, their knowledge of the region was impressive and I will be taking a lot of their advice in my future marketing here. I am very grateful to ALTO for the excellent seminars and look forward to the next.

Valery Cullen, Managing Director at Cork English College

If you are an ALTO member, you can watch the video recording of the speakers' presentations, please log in to the site and click here.

Don't forget to register for the next event "MULTIPLIERS- How the best leaders make everyone smarter" by Liz Wiseman- 26th April 2012, Montreal.