Heriot-Watt University Dubai to Collaborate on Wellbeing Research in The Middle East with VIWELL



Collaborate on Wellbeing

Dubai, December 19, 2023: Heriot-Watt University Dubai and VIWELL have signed a partnership to collaborate on wellbeing research, and support student internships in the UAE.

The stark reality highlighted by a Cigna study, indicating an 88% stress rate within the UAE workforce and a corresponding Gallup finding revealing a mere 15% engagement level in regional workplaces, has profound implications on psychological well-being. This emphasises the urgency and importance of this partnership.

As we face a pressing need to address and alleviate the profound impact of stress on mental health and the lack of living in balance, this collaboration emerges as a crucial initiative to pioneer solutions, foster resilience, and redefine workplace wellbeing for the betterment of individuals and the broader community. Primary well-being studies with industry data to amplify authentic conversations, conduct cutting-edge research, and present insightful statistics are only one of the first steps to this strategic partnership with an extensive roadmap.

Professor Dame Heather McGregor, Provost and Vice Principal of Heriot-Watt University Dubai said, "This collaboration represents our dedication to advancing knowledge, in crucial areas like the intersection of workplace wellbeing and business psychology. Workplace wellbeing is key to building organisations that are successful, and through this MoU, we hope to successfully combine our efforts to build research-led data that will provide an understanding of workplace wellbeing needs and parameters.  As a university, we also understand the need for our students to be not only academically strong but also have hands-on work experience, and we are certain that the internship opportunities with VIWELL will significantly add to their development. "

Dr. Lucy Bolton, Assistant Professor in Business Psychology and leading the initiative at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, offers context on the collaboration. She emphasises, "Our collaboration with VIWELL, initiated at the beginning of 2023, is focused on supporting postgraduate business psychology and coaching students in Dubai. This partnership, led by me, Dr. Gary Pheiffer, and Dr. Ishfaq Vaja, aims to provide students with real-world experiences, bridging the gap between academia and practical applications.”

In workplace wellbeing, psychology plays a vital role by scientifically understanding and improving mental health in organisational settings. It explores individual and group behaviour, providing insights into human motivation and decision-making. Using evidence-based approaches, psychology offers practical strategies to address the root causes of workplace stress, fostering resilience and enhancing overall wellbeing in organisations.

The VIWELL Institute, a subsidiary of VIWELL, is working as a robust wellbeing research entity, it delivers evidence-based insights into workplace wellbeing, concurrently serving as a lighthouse for industry professionals. The Institute’s mission is clear: to establish a universal standard for wellbeing, commencing in the Middle East and extending its accessibility to all organisations, laying the groundwork for a global benchmark.

Expanding on Mohammed Husary’s perspective, the CEO and founder of VIWELL sees this partnership as a resounding success in line with his core principles of Educate, Motivate, and Support. In his words, “Through this collaboration, VIWELL is not only making meaningful contributions to academia but is also actively working towards normalising wellbeing in the region. By promoting understanding and proactive engagement, we aim to create a cultural shift that normalises conversations around mental health and fosters a supportive environment for individuals and organisations alike.”

Science plays a pivotal role in modern workplaces, offering a systematic approach to understanding and improving various facets of professional environments. In the context of well-being, scientific methodologies provide a foundation for evidence-based interventions that address the psychological and physiological aspects of employee health. By relying on empirical research, and engaging with academic institutions, organisations can identify stressors, implement effective strategies, and foster healthier work environments.

Dr. Maged Iskander, Wellbeing Scientific Director of VIWELL and Heriot-Watt alumnus, emphasises the role of the business environment in wellbeing and coaching at the corporate level. He highlights, "This partnership ensures credibility by providing evidence-based local research, contributing meaningfully to the understanding and improvement of workplace wellbeing in the Middle East. It also lays the foundation for future practitioner-scientist connections, events, collaborations, and research initiatives.

As a part of this initiative, Aksah Motiwala, a current MSc Business Psychology with Coaching student at HWUD will be the first research intern placed with the VIWELL Institute.

This collaboration is poised to enhance workplace wellbeing standards, nurture future leaders, and inspire tangible changes in the local and regional wellbeing landscape. The joint commitment of Heriot-Watt University Dubai and VIWELL reflects a shared vision to drive innovation, initiate crucial conversations, and pave the way for high-quality research in workplace wellbeing in the Middle East.