ABU DHABI // Nearly 100 more UAE nationals have qualified to represent the emirate at home and abroad as tourism ambassadors.
Ninety-eight Emiratis graduated at a ceremony at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers yesterday.
The Abu Dhabi Ambassador Programme, launched in 2008, was created to give nationals the skills to promote the emirate both to tourists at home and to other nations while overseas.
The class of 2012, honoured yesterday, are employed by more than 44 UAE organisations in the private and public sector.
A total of 277 people have now successfully completed the course, an initiative by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA).
Mohammed Ali Hammadi, head of commercial activities at the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, came top of last year's intake.
"For me, honestly, it has opened my eyes," he said. "Now I'm paying attention to all facilities and all new buildings.
"If it says hotel I go and search what's the name, what's the cuisine offered and how many rooms."
Mr Hammadi, 35, addressed the audience at the ceremony, which finished with a spectacular release of confetti and balloons.
"We promise to honour and dignify the title of Abu Dhabi Ambassador," he said. "Whatever we learned we will contemplate upon. We will react positively to a world of multiple nationalities living among us."
Emirati singer Aryam, who graduated from the programme in 2010, performed a song about being an ambassador for your country.
The 26-year-old said she learnt many skills that helped her career, such as the ability to perform in front of a crowd. "They helped us to be a lot more confident," she said.
Last year's modules covered topics such as leadership and management and the past, present and future of Abu Dhabi.
Ahmed Al Romaithi, 38, a specialist in internal communication at the General Secretariat of the Executive Council, spoke passionately about the course ahead of his graduation.
"This programme has expanded my horizons and my vision," he said. "I learnt all the presentation skills, leadership skills, teamwork skills and it made me responsible.
"Being around special people and people with ambition made me want to improve myself."
The ceremony was attended by Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi, an environment advisor to the government of Ajman.