x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

A warm smile and help spell marhaba in Dubai

The Life: Synthia Agudelo is a profesional greeter. The Marhaba Services agent for dnata discusses a typical day in her life at Dubai International Airport.

Synthia Agudelo(R) Marhaba agent pose during the interview at the Emirates Head Quarters in Dubai . ( Satish Kumar / The National )
Synthia Agudelo(R) Marhaba agent pose during the interview at the Emirates Head Quarters in Dubai . ( Satish Kumar / The National )

A Synthia Agudelo greets people for a living. The Colombian, who works as a Marhaba Services agent for dnata at Dubai International Airport, discusses her job as she assists passengers through customs procedures before passing them on to waiting families.


If I have a morning duty, I'll wake up two hours before my duty starts, so that I will have time to put my make-up on, do my hair and make sure I don't forget anything.


A typical morning [can be] easy, nice, funny, sad and stressful at times. It's just a mix of emotions; everything depends on our passengers. Until now I did not have any bad situation. Sometimes, of course, the passengers have a strong personality, but I always say that it's the way you treat them which can make everything perfect. I remember one elderly passenger: he has amazing green eyes and he speaks only Arabic, but he surprised me with his lovely heart and his smile. For 40 minutes he was telling me stories [and] laughing until I passed him on to his waiting family.


I always eat across the road from the airport. I use that time to feel the air outside. I like to eat anything as long as it's not too oily - mostly vegetables and juices.


In the early afternoon, we don't have many flights, so I like to use my time studying in dnata's online learning zone. There, we have various free courses about all airport operations.


Later in the afternoon, towards evening, it starts becoming busier. Most of the time Marhaba really needs our help maybe for one or two more hours after our duty has finished. So sometimes I offer to work overtime. In a typical day, I will assist around seven requests. I had only one famous passenger. She is a Lebanese singer who was an amazing person, and she was smiling all the time - and she even sang to me. We always ensure that we handle celebrities in a discreet and professional manner, which is why I cannot tell you her name.


In the evening I like to go out, maybe to the cinema, coffee shops [and] malls. But also I love when I am at home to be with my brother and friends just having a good time, maybe watching a movie. We [make] our own popcorn and sandwiches, until I feel tired and go to bed.


Honestly, it's never early, as I work shifts. If I have afternoon duty [at 2pm], I'll wake up around 11am. If I have a night duty, I'll wake up early. So, every day is a different schedule. Many times I go to bed after midnight but one thing you have to be sure of is to sleep, sleep, sleep.

* Sananda Sahoo