Coursera has big plans for the region

Online learning platform opens ME office, signs up organisations including Abu Dhabi Government

Belsky says Coursera will continue to offer content that caters to regional learning interests.
Belsky says Coursera will continue to offer content that caters to regional learning interests.

Coursera, the expansive online learning platform, recently announced the launch of ‘Coursera for Business’ in the Middle East, signing deals with government and private organisations to upskill employees in high-demand fields such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and software development. 

One of these is a partnership with the Abu Dhabi School of Government (ADSG) to train 60,000 government employees in technology skills like data science, artificial intelligence, and digital transformation.

Coursera is also opening an office in Abu Dhabi to serve its customers locally. “Coursera is committed to serving the region by delivering the transformative learning needed for individuals, companies, and governments to remain competitive in the new economy,” says Leah Belsky, vice president of Enterprise, Coursera For Business.

The future of learning and the future of work are converging. Globalisation and technology advancement are reshaping our lives, but they are also causing a rate of change that is outpacing human adaptability.

“This is what inspired us to launch Coursera for Business – to partner with governments and organisations around the world to achieve workforce transformation in the face of accelerating change,” says Belsky.

The Middle East is undergoing a major economic transition, shifting its industrial base from natural resources to one driven by technology and innovation. As new jobs emerge from this shift, local and regional skills must continuously be developed to keep pace with the rate of change, Belsky adds.

Learners have access to over 3,000 online courses taught by 190 universities and industry educators. Each course offers a learning experience comprising of recorded video lectures, quizzes, peer-graded assignments, and discussion forums with a global community of peers. Most courses are self-paced with suggested deadlines to keep learners on track to reach their goals, Belsky explains. A mobile app offers busy learners the flexibility to learn wherever or whenever. All learners who complete a course will also earn a Course Certificate.

Coursera has a growing community of 170,000 learners in the UAE and two million learners in the Middle East. Among UAE learners, courses within the Business, Data Science, and Technology domains have the highest number of enrolments, Belsky explains. The three most popular courses among UAE learners in the last year are, Learning How to Learn from McMaster University and University of California San Diego, Excel Skills for Business: Essential from Macquarie University, and The Science of Well-Being by Yale University.

“Coursera’s database enables us to also benchmark a country’s skill performance in the Business, Technology, and Data Science domains. In our recently launched Global Skills Index, we found that Coursera learners in the UAE rank third in the region for Technology and Data Science, and are lower performing in Business at fourth in the region. Operating Systems (53%), Math (44%), and Machine Learning (42%) are some of the UAE’s best performing competencies.

“These insights can further inform learning programs for individuals, companies, and governments in the UAE,” she adds.

Coursera for Business

Coursera for Business, launched in 2016, is a learning solution now used by more than 1,800 organisations worldwide, including 60+ Fortune 500 companies, says Belsky. “Our enterprise learners benefit from the same dynamic learning experience as any individual using Coursera, and they similarly have access to our catalogue of 3,000 courses from 190 university and industry educators.”

The Coursera for Business platform includes an additional suite of tools that enables HR and learning and development administrators to track learning progress and measure the ROI of their learning program. Customers benefit from employee leaderboards, utilisation analytics, and skills benchmarking insights to compare skill performance with industry peers.

“We work closely with our customers to take advantage of these insights and build a curated learning program that addresses their upskilling needs and builds a more competitive workforce,” Belsky says.


Coursera recently translated 100 of its courses into Arabic, with more to come.

Coursera recently translated 100 of its courses into Arabic, with more to come. It also localised its mobile app so that Arabic learners can avail a right-to-left mobile learning experience.

Belsky says Coursera will continue to offer content that caters to regional learning interests, particularly as it relates to the popular Business, Data Science, and Technology domains. “With recent launches like the Self-Driving Cars Specialisation from the University of Toronto and AI for Everyone from Andrew Ng’s, we will enable learners in the Middle East to access the high-quality education needed to reach their career goals,” she adds.

Coursera offers certificates to all paying learners that complete a Course, Specialisation, or MasterTrack. Also available are Professional Certificates that enable individuals to gain specialisations in a particular field.

The Google IT Support Certificate, for example, developed by Google and delivered on Coursera, is a five-course certificate that is designed to prepare learners for an entry-level IT job. Upon completion, learners will receive a certificate that makes them eligible to apply to a number of top employers, including Google. These certificates and hiring opportunities are available to learners on Coursera worldwide, explains Belksy.

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