DUBAI // Emiratis should not be deterred from working in the hospitality industry by concerns about alcohol and other issues, the hotels group Jumeirah says.
Nationals have tended to avoid the industry and other parts of the private sector that are seen as unsuitable, with most preferring government jobs.
But there are many roles that do not bring staff into contact with alcohol, said Sumaya Khalfan, the corporate communications manager of Dubai’s Jumeirah Group, which runs the Burj Al Arab and a string of other luxury properties.
“Hospitality is not all about alcohol or reception,” Ms Khalfan said. “There are a lot of different departments within Jumeirah – IT, HR, marketing and other sections.”
In 2010, Jumeirah launched its national development management programme and the first seven graduates, all women, took up positions with the group last year. The second batch, including men, joined the programme in September.
“This is changing a little bit attitudes towards nationals, especially women, working in the hospitality sector,” Ms Khalfan said.
“This year is really important for us as we’re targeting to increase the number of Emiratis by 3 per cent on last year. Dubai is about hospitality. It is part of our life and culture.”
One of the first seven graduates was Ahlam Bolooki, 22, of Dubai.
“I’m very pleased with my career choice as I’m a people person,” Ms Bolooki said. “I work in Jumeirah Restaurants as assistant marketing manager.
“I would really recommend other nationals to come into this sector because it’s really growing and tourism is a big part of the GDP of the country. Jumeirah as a company is growing globally on a huge scale in the next few years and it would be a shame if Emiratis weren’t part of that growth.”
Staff have opportunities to spend time working in the group’s hotels abroad.
“Because it’s a local company, I know for me, my family would feel more comfortable about me travelling through Jumeirah rather than travelling on my own to find a job somewhere,” Ms Bolooki said.
Ms Khalfan and Ms Bolooki were on the Jumeirah stand at Careers UAE, a recruitment fair for nationals that opened yesterday at Dubai International Convention Centre, alongside the HR Leaders Forum.
Essa Al Mulla, the executive director of the Emirates Nationals Development Programme, told the forum that the number of Emiratis in the hotel industry was almost zero.
“In the hotel industry there is no long-term care for Emiratis,” Mr Al Mulla said. “We don’t have an existing plan to get more nationals to engage with the hotel industry.”
But he said the answer was not for the Government to impose quotas as the industry was not ready for it.
One job seeker at the fair was Shaikha Al Suwaidi, 23, who had just graduated from Dubai Women’s College where she studied subjects including tourism and event management. Despite this, Ms Al Suwaidi said she would not consider working in hospitality.
“I don’t like hospitality, though I like event management,” she said.
More than 100 private companies, government departments and universities are taking part in the 12th Careers UAE, being held to support the Emiratisation programme.
The electronics and electrical-engineering giant Siemens is calling for applications for 189 vacancies in the UAE, and hopes to fill as many posts as possible with Emiratis.
Most of the jobs are in energy, industry and infrastructure and require an engineering background.
“Having local employees from the UAE in our set-up means, first of all, that we have a better understanding of the business, the Government and the people here,” said Dietmar Siersdorfer, the chief executive of Siemens’s energy division for the Middle East.
“Secondly, we have a longer perspective because they can grow here in the organisation, they can take management posts. Some will, at the end of the day, reach the higher ranks and work in management posts in other parts of the world.”
Careers UAE continues tomorrow.