France-based business school Insead has appointed Ilian Mihov as its new dean.

Mihov, who has a doctorate from Princeton University in the US, served as deputy dean for faculty and research at Insead since 2011. He will be based at the Singapore campus, making him the first Insead dean to be based in Asia.

The school graduated its first master of business administration (MBA) class in 1960 in Fontainbleau near Paris. It opened a campus in Singapore in 2000 and Abu Dhabi in 2007.

Mihov’s promotion comes at a time when interest in MBAs and other management courses is growing in the Middle East. The US-based Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) runs a testing process used by business schools worldwide to assess candidates. In 2008 it submitted scores to 40 organisations in the region, a number that rose to 60 last year.

Speaking to MEED for the Executive Education Guide, published this week, acting chancellor of the American Unviersity of Sharjah Thomas Hochstettler said the economic downturn had helped boost interest in business courses. “MBA trends tend to be countercyclical,” he said. “People go back to school to re-tool when the economy is doing poorly in order to get a better job.”

In a statement announcing Mihov’s new position, Mugheer al-Khalili, director general of the Abu Dhabi Education Council, said, “Insead is one of our strategic partners that is working with us to place education in Abu Dhabi on the forefront of international recognition, one that is designed to empower our people and build the absorptive human capital necessary for our country’s future.”