By Bernd Debusmann Jr
The government of Abu Dhabi is Coursera's single largest institutional customer in the world
Online education provider Coursera has 2.5 million registered ‘learners’ in the Middle East, with the government of Abu Dhabi being its largest institutional customer anywhere in the world, according to CEO Jeff Maggioncalda.
Founded in 2012, Coursera works with universities and other organisations to offer online courses, specialisations and degrees in subjects ranging from engineering and computer science to marketing and medicine.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Maggioncalda said the company currently has approximately 245,000 users in the UAE, as well as 300,000 in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
The company’s single largest institutional customer on a global level, he said, is the government of Abu Dhabi.
“They’ve hired Coursera to help train 60,000 employees,” he said. “The three top domains are business, data science and health.”
In Saudi Arabia, Maggioncalda added, the top subjects are business, personal development and heath.
“At a global level, its business, data science and technology at the top,” he said. “[In the Middle East], it’s a little bit less of the tech skills and more of the personal development skills.”
On a course-by-course level, Maggioncalda said that the company finds “quite a bit of similarity” between the Middle East and the rest of the world, with machine learning and ‘AI for everyone’ being particularly popular in the region.
The most popular Coursera course in the world, Yale University’s ‘Science of Wellbeing’, is the fifth most popular in the UAE.
In the future, Maggioncalda said that he expects the company’s growth in the region will exceed its global yearly growth rate of approximately 30 percent.
“My general expectation is that this region will probably be growing faster than the overall average, given some of the relationships that we’re setting up there and the genera demand among younger people for re-skilling and employment opportunities,” he said.
Currently, Coursera offers 100 courses of Arabic, with another 50 to 100 coming in “the not too distant future”, according to Maggioncalda.
Globally, Coursera has approximately 48 million registered users.
The company has 23 enterprise customers in the UAE – including Emirates NBD, Etihad and Dubai Asset Management – as well as 19 in Saudi Arabia.