ABU DHABI // As Asma Saeed Al Hosani put down her blowtorch, it was with a sense of satisfaction. It might not have looked much, but the 15-year-old from Ajman was hoping the piece of welded metal in front of her might just be her ticket to Brazil.
She was among the hundreds of young Emiratis competing at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre yesterday, on the opening day of this year's Emirates Skills National Competition.
"It is so dangerous and I have to wear all the safety equipment," said Asma. "You have to know what you are doing. I really like it though, it is great."
Across 19 separate disciplines, ranging from robotics to health and social care, entrants battled it out to prove their abilities in their chosen field. The competition aims to give recognition to those who excel and propel them towards a successful career.
The 425 young hopefuls are also vying for a place at the 2015 WorldSkills competition in Brazil and could take home Dh12,000 in prize money.
Abdulaziz Abdulla Al Asmawi, a second-year student from Dubai at the Al Ain International Aviation Academy, hopes the helicopter repair skills he showed off yesterday will eventually be enough to land him a job as an Etihad aircraft engineer.
"We are motivated to get a first place in this competition," he said. "It is great to come here and be a part of Emirates Skills. It is not easy to be in this area because you have to practice hard and be experienced to do well."
Company representatives were certainly keeping a keen eye on proceedings as they hope to find the next generation of local talent.
Jean-Christophe Desrentes, technical assistance manager at Dassault Aviation, said his company was "very happy to participate in what should show the excellence of UAE people in the future."
Dassault invited last year's winner in the aviation discipline to work with it in France and undergo further technical training, before competing at WorldSkills this year in Germany.
Others' ambitions lie closer to home. Asma dreams of becoming a solar engineer once she has completed her studies, working on projects like Masdar's Shams 1 array outside Abu Dhabi.
"I think this will help me, I have gained a lot of confidence by competing," she said.
The winners will be announced on Thursday.