Ambassador of Bahrain Speaks with Students on the Relationship Between Business and Government
Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashid Al Khalifa ’01, MBA ’03, ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain, visited Bentley on Sept. 19 to discuss how Bahrain is working with countries to strengthen economic and geopolitical ties and to speak with students, faculty and staff on the role of business in solving human problems. More than 150 members of the Bentley community attended the fireside chat with the ambassador and Bentley President E. LaBrent Chrite in Wilder Pavilion.
President Chrite, who has spent time in the Middle East and has worked to strengthen economic conditions and improve business education opportunities for people around the world, asked Khalifa about the role of education in Bahrain’s “Economic Vision 2023,” which outlines a strategy to transform the country from a “regional pioneer to global contender.”
“Forward-thinking goals must be tied to the community’s most important resource, which is human capital,” Chrite said, commending the ambassador on the country's “hugely ambitious” goals, which include reducing emissions by 30% by 2035 and doubling household income by 2030.
“We have been true believers in education,” Khalifa said, adding that Bahrain is known for its “high level of professionalism within its human capital” and is committed to bringing college graduates back to their home country. Human capital is the “richest” factor in a country’s progress, said Khalifa: “We invest in our youth. We are committed to making sure there is a pool of knowledge that is giving back in various capacities … education is definitely the way forward.”
Khalifa also highlighted the implementation of vocational centers as an alternatives to higher education. “Societies can only flourish when ... you have multiple ways to get everyone on board.”
The ambassador lauded “fairness, sustainability and competitiveness” as the pillars of the country’s economic vision and said he has seen the positive impact of a business-and-government relationship play out in Bahrain and the Middle East: “The government moved from an operator to a regulator, creating wealth and opportunities for the private sector.”
Khalifa, who was appointed the Kingdom of Bahrain's ambassador to the United States in July 2017, was a Management major as an undergraduate at Bentley who went on to become a double Falcon upon completion of his MBA. In his last visit to Waltham in 2017, he credited Bentley’s on-campus education model for teaching him to trust and collaborate with his peers.
Students had the opportunity to speak with Khalifa — both in a more formal Q&A following his remarks and, for a smaller group of undergraduates, during a meet-and-greet as they escorted the ambassador around campus.
“The ambassador spoke about how his Bentley MBA equipped him with the skills he needed to have tough conversations in a productive and professional manner,” says Mahwash Hoti MBA ’23, MSBA ’23, who hosted the armchair conversation and is president of the Graduate Student Association. “As a current MBA candidate, that showed me how my MBA skills can be applied to non-traditional business roles, such as his.”
“I’ve always been incredibly interested in diplomacy and international relations, and hearing the ambassador talk about his experiences at Bentley and after college was really helpful,” says Colton Destrampe ’24, who is Student Government Association senator and an Economics-Finance major. “Especially as I get closer and closer to graduation, to see someone who has succeeded and thrived in a similar college environment will be something I will carry with me throughout my academic and professional career.”
When asked about the role of Gen Z in international relations, Khalifa recognized the need for governments “to prepare themselves for a new generation” that challenges traditional business practices. “Diplomacy is not only done behind a desk; you have to be out in the field.”