ABU DHABI //Eighty-four Emirati graduates, described by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority as ambassadors, are ready and eager to present themselves as the faces of the emirate both here and around the world .
The men and women are graduates of the 10-week Abu Dhabi Ambassador Programme, an initiative sponsored by the ADTA and meant to promote Abu Dhabi's treasures through its own people.
This latest batch was the largest group of graduates since the programme began in 2009.
"These ambassadors will represent our emirate, but not only by promoting it as a tourist destination," said Atef Al Bastaki, the director of the ADTA programme, during the graduation ceremony yesterday at the Armed Forces Officers Club.
"They will also be representative of our cultures, our traditions, within their respective companies and authorities - both in and out of the UAE," he said.
The participants were selected from 27 organisations in the private and public sector, including Abu Dhabi and Al Ain municipalities, Abu Dhabi University, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the Emirates Foundation, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi.
Nasser Al Reyami, the tourism standards director at the ADTA, said the course had expanded and developed each year. The 2011 programme included sessions on tourism entrepreneurship opportunities in event management, mastering the art of public speaking, understanding tourists and role-playing as tourist guides.
"But we are not training tour guides, we are training ambassadors who know how to represent their country and speak of its beauty to everyone, whether tourist, resident or a person they meet abroad," Mr Al Reyami said.
Each of the graduates will participate in at least three or four events each year, he said, from taking part in the Formula One events at Yas Island to joining the ADTA on one of its projects outside the country.
The graduates themselves are eager to get started. Sultan Al Mansouri, a senior at Abu Dhabi University working towards a degree in human resources management, said he shared all he learnt with family and friends. "We were taken to places in Al Ain that I knew nothing about, showing me my country in a whole new light," he said. "I will be using everything I learnt daily, every time I interact with anyone who wants to know more about my country."