Having just completed her trip to Ghana and South Africa, University President Mary Sue Coleman will fly north to the United Arab Emirates today to attend a women’s leadership conference.

Coleman is scheduled to speak in Dubai Monday to a group of female college students during a conference called “Women as Global Leaders.” Other prominent leaders speaking at the conference include actress and activist Jane Fonda and Carol Bellamy, the former head of UNICEF, a United Nations agency that advocates for children’s rights.

Coleman’s talk at the conference, which will include participants from 85 different nations, will highlight the differences between nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions. No University students will be attending the conference, according to Nancy Connell, director of the University News Service.

While in Dubai, Coleman will also host a gathering of about 100 University alums living in the U.A.E.

The University’s increased attention in the region comes as a number of American universities have opened branch campuses in the Middle East or have formed partnerships with institutions in the region. In May 2007, Michigan State University officials announced plans to open a branch campus in Dubai.

Though plans for this phase of Coleman’s trip have been in the works for some time, they weren’t announced when Coleman officially unveiled her plans to visit sub-Saharan Africa at February’s meeting of the University Board of Regents.

“The Dubai trip grew out of the invitation she received to speak at the conference,” Connell said.

While most of the University’s 12-person Africa delegation will return to Ann Arbor today, Mark Tessler, director of the University’s International Institute, will accompany Coleman to the U.A.E.

Today in Abu-Dhabi, capital of the Persian Gulf nation, Coleman will meet with the nation’s Minister of Higher Education, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, to talk about “possible collaborations” between the University and colleges in the U.A.E., Connell said.

Coleman and Tessler are slated to tour the campus of the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain tomorrow.

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