Retour aux actualités
Article suivant Article précédent

ESSEC Alumni in the United Arab Emirates: “The diversity of cultures here is very inspiring”

Actus de l'association



The United Arab Emirates are home to about 180 alumni – and more are joining. Gurwan Le Gac (B12), Head of ESSEC Alumni’s UAE Chapter, tells us more about life in the Arabian Gulf and the services he offers to the community. 

ESSEC Alumni: How famous is the ESSEC brand in the UAE?

Gurwan Le Gac: All the alumni working here make the ESSEC brand more and more acknowledged by local and international companies. 

EA: What are the profiles and backgrounds of alumni in the UAE?

G. Le Gac: Most have a strong experience with specific skills and knowledge in their industry, which make them quite unique and therefore sought after by companies. However young alumni have been coming over for 2 to 3 years, for a VIE or a first experience, just willing to discover Dubai and acquire an outstanding experience. 

EA: What jobs do they do?

G. Le Gac: All are linked to economic activities specific to the UAE: you will find many managers working in the hospitality, finance, consulting, luxury/retail and also industry.

EA: Where do they live?

G. Le Gac: The 2 main cities are Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and 95% of our alumni are living in Dubai, mostly in three areas: La Marina, Downtown and Um Suqqueim. Each area has his own advantages: close to the sea, great nightlife, large accommodations… with also various rental prices!

EA: What is the health situation currently in your country?

G. Le Gac: Unfortunately the COVID-19 virus is spreading, we currently have 1,200 to 1,400 cases per day. It is compulsory to wear a mask, and keep social distance. However all stores, restaurants, and fitness centers are open. It is business as usual.

EA: Do you mean the pandemic has had no effect on the economy?

G. Le Gac: Far from it! The lockdown in March/April had a large impact on the UAE economy. It caused the departure of 1,3 million residents. Most of them were blue-collar/unskilled workers, however white-collar/skilled workers have also been facing redundancies. And the economy is still struggling with a brent at 45 dollars, and no travel nor tourism. By consequence, most of the job opportunities are on hold, and companies that are still hiring tend to favor candidates who are already physically present in UAE. Furthermore, post-pandemic salaries appear to be largely reduced for similar positions and responsibilities.

EA: What opportunities are there in the UAE for our alumni in that context?

G. Le Gac: You can still find opportunities for skilled managers in the hospitality and consulting sectors. Speaking Arabic is a must and definitely helps attract recruiters, but many jobs do not require it. With the upcoming Expo 2021, I’m sure that the demand is going to rise by June/July next year within these main sectors.

EA: What news from the local ESSEC community in this context?

G. Le Gac: Even though many foreigners left the UAE, the ESSEC community has been spared so far. Just a few of us are looking for job opportunities. Hence I created a “Bureau” including career support and coaching services to help them. 

EA: What makes it interesting to live in the UAE? What may strike a foreigner as specific to this country?

G. Le Gac: Dubai is known for its “bling-bling” style I assume, and the fact is that sport cars have become so casual here… However living here will make you realize a for more interesting feature: the region is a cross between 3 civilizations – Arabic, European, Asian. The diversity of cultures is very inspiring and enriching. 

EA: What advice do you have for our alumni moving in UAE?

G. Le Gac : First, please get in touch with us through our page on the ESSEC alumni website. Sophie Dupont de Kerchove de Denterghem (M07) and I will be happy to assist and advise you. In particular, if you are in a VIE or training, we will provide some information about the company in which you have been recruited. Second, the UAE has an extremely liberal labor law: if you are coming with a family I would strongly advise you to validate the 6-month probation period and then move your loved ones here. Third, you also need to know that everything here is really expensive (rents, schools, food…), which is all the more an issue now that salaries are decreasing.

EA: What is the offer of ESSEC Alumni’s UAE Chapter?

G. Le Gac: We organize the usual get-togethers, including several gatherings with the French “Grandes Écoles” expats, who can amount up to 400 people. We also had our very first Gala in 2019, and we recently launched “Business Breakfasts” where we discuss a current topic with about 20 alumni around 7:30 AM. Of course due to the pandemic we replaced those events with monthly webinars. 

EA: Who are the members of your team?

G. Le Gac: We now have a “Bureau” with Charlotte Prévot (E15) for Communication, Stéphanie Moret Honnart (C10) for Events, Lamia Berrahma (E12) for Careers, Sophie Dupont de Kerchove de Denterghem (I07) for Welcome, and Xavier J.D. Halbi (H04) for Coaching and Webinars. The whole team is looking forward to 2021 and re-connect live with the ESSEC community!

Interview by Veary Ngy, International Community Manager at ESSEC Alumni, and Louis Armengaud Wurmser (E10), Content Manager at ESSEC Alumni 

Want to read more? Join ESSEC Alumni for us to be able to bring other quality contents about the community to you.

Image : © AdobeStock

1212 vues Visites



Veuillez vous connecter pour lire ou ajouter un commentaire

Articles suggérés

Actus de l'association

ESSEC Transition Alumni : « Ensemble, construisons une société plus durable »

photo de profil d'un membre


20 janvier

Actus de l'association

ESSEC Alumni in Germany: “This is a very diverse country with many economic centers”

photo de profil d'un membre


11 janvier

Actus de l'association

Stéphanie Jossermoz (E94), DG ESSEC Alumni : « Découvrez tous nos nouveaux services ! »

photo de profil d'un membre


11 janvier