ABU DHABI // A new summer course is under way to boost the number of Emiratis working in the hospitality sector. Only one per cent of Abu Dhabi's tourism workforce is Emirati, according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, and in a bid to increase that figure, the authority and the Armed Forces Officers Club organised a three-week summer course for people aged 15 to 20.
More than 200 people applied for the 70 places in the programme, which runs until Aug 6. The course is intended to hone students' leadership and teamwork skills and their understanding of Abu Dhabi's appeal as a tourist destination. "We have touristic locations and we need Emiratis," said Atef al Bastaki, the ADTA's senior Emiratisation executive. "The door is open, but nationals don't find it palatable."
Mr al Bastaki said he wanted more Emiratis in the industry because, for instance, "a foreigner will talk about the mosque without knowing much about it". Emiratis, he said, "have no knowledge about the country's need in that sector". The ADTA has set an Emiratisation target of at least five per cent for the hospitality sector by 2012. Mr al Bastaki hopes at least five of the students on the course will take up careers in tourism.
The 70 places are divided equally between males and females. Four of the students are deaf and are assisted by a translator. * The National