A Different Flavor of Business

PROVO, Utah – Oct 22, 2021 – In 2004 Shereen Salah and her husband, Ahmad, moved from Cairo to Provo where they both began attending BYU. After graduating with her master’s degree in language acquisition and teaching, Salah accepted a position at BYU as an adjunct professor. Now she teaches a business Arabic class at the BYU Marriott School of Business, and she enjoys supporting her students as they participate in competitions hosted by the Whitmore Global Business Center (GBC).

In addition to teaching at BYU Marriott, Salah is also head of the Arabic program at the University of Utah. However, she particularly loves the class she teaches at BYU—MSB 596R: Business Arabic—because she believes the course curriculum provides students with unique and invaluable skills that make them marketable to employers.

“The skills students gain through the Business Arabic course stay with them for years down the road,” she says. “This course prepares the students to easily enter the business field. The course provides students vocabulary they need to communicate in most business settings, prepares them for job interviews by practicing interviews spoken completely in Arabic, and helps them write their résumés and personal statements in Arabic. The class goes beyond a basic language class; instead, Business Arabic is a practical course that also provides life skills.”

One way Salah’s students apply their knowledge of Arabic business principles is through the Business Language Case Competition hosted by the GBC. “I enjoy watching my students participate in the case competitions, where they excel by using the vocabulary and business knowledge from the course,” Salah says. “The competition is open to Arabic learners from other colleges, but our BYU team typically does exceptionally well.” 

In addition to the case competition, Salah also participated in her own GBC experience. In 2018 Jonathon Wood, the managing director of the GBC, invited Salah to join him and faculty members from universities across the United States to travel to the Middle East and visit businesses in Oman, Dubai, and her home country of Egypt. “The trip was a fantastic, eye-opening experience,” says Salah. “I brought back my newfound knowledge about business in the Middle East to BYU. I implemented my insights into my business Arabic curriculum. 

“Growing up in Egypt, I gained personal experience with business in the Middle East. I assumed that each country conducted business in the same way, but I’ve learned that’s not true,” she continues. “Each country has its own unique flavor and way of doing business, and I believe this insight is important for my students to know.” With her revised curriculum, Salah now teaches her students about the business cultures within multiple Middle Eastern countries, the differences between the cultures, and the unique laws and regulations of each country. 

Salah enjoys traveling for reasons other than work; she frequently embarks on service-oriented trips across the world. “My family loves taking humanitarian trips. My husband and I are on the Hope Humanitarian board, a Salt Lake City-based organization that helps refugees both locally and around the world,” she says. “Prior to the pandemic, we traveled twice a year to Greece or Turkey to help the refugees. A few years ago, I also took my daughters to Greece and Turkey, where we provided services for the refugees. My daughters still remember their experiences and how they felt. My family loves the elevated purpose that service brings to our lives.” 

Serving people from around the world reminds Salah of the long-term impact of the business skills she teaches her students. “I hope my students use their Arabic business skills to work and serve people from other countries,” she says. “A principle I learned on my trip with the GBC faculty members was when you travel and see the world, you can go sightseeing, but you can also go with a purpose and come back with new knowledge that changes your life and maybe the lives of others.”   

Shereen Salah and her daughter, Sama, who is a freshman at BYU.
Shereen Salah (right) and her daughter, Sama, who is a freshman at BYU. Photo courtesy of Shereen Salah.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sarah Calvert