Amal Al Aqrabi reveals her working day at the luxury mall and her passion for horse riding.
Day in the life: Amal Al Aqrabi, hospitality manager at The Galleria
Amal Al Aqrabi, the hospitality manager at the 33,000-square-metre luxury mall, The Galleria at Abu Dhabi’s Sowwah Square, balances work, an active social life and her studies. After majoring in marketing from colleges in Canada and Australia, she joined a masters programme in management in Dubai. The 27-year-old Emirati from Abu Dhabi reveals her typical day.
I wake up and get ready for my horse-riding session at a private stable in Abu Dhabi. I usually do it for an hour from 7am, and at least three times a week. From a young age I wanted to go horse-riding in my spare time, but I wanted to finish my studies first. So as soon as I came back from Australia in 2010, I started the sessions. The season runs from October until May, and after that I try to keep myself fit through walking.
I arrive at The Galleria on Al Maryah Island shortly before the working day starts. I buy a coffee and a muffin, my breakfast, from one of the cafes at the mall. I like to stroll by the waterside for a few minutes as I sip coffee and take in the view. After 9am, I go around The Galleria and make sure everything is fine before it opens at 10am. We book tours for hotel guests for a personal shopping experience. This is a free service. They need to tell us 24 hours in advance, and we appoint an ambassador. If we have a Russian tourist, we assign a Russian-speaking person. The hospitality department of The Galleria has eight members, including me and five ambassadors. We have Chinese, Russian, French, Arabic, English and Tagalog-speaking ambassadors. The tours can be from half an hour to an hour long or more, depending on what personal shopping experience they want. Sometimes visitors just want to acquaint themselves with the stores available. We don’t offer shopping advice but we have the contact information for the store managers, so that makes it easier to facilitate the tour around the mall.
Depending on how booked up we are, I prepare the ambassadors for the tours with the information about the visitor and their preferred stores so that the ambassador knows what the customer likes. The hospitality coordinator and I give the ambassadors updates on any special arrangements. If a visitor to the mall wants to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary or any special occasion at the mall, we can facilitate that. The service is free of charge but if we have to buy flowers or decorations, it is chargeable. I have handled about four such occasions since I joined in August. We also help in writing notes for the occasion, such as a message from a husband to a wife to celebrate the special event, because some people are not sure what to write or are unable to express their emotions.
If I have time, this is the earliest I can have lunch. I like Italian, French and Mexican cuisines. We have all of these at The Galleria and it’s hard to make a decision. There are healthier options as well and I think to myself “I will try those”, but when I walk past the others I can’t resist them. Sometimes I get grilled chicken with mashed potato. Then in the afternoon I visit hotel managers and update them about any special events or arrangements at The Galleria so that they can inform their guests.
This is when my working day ends, but that is not always the case. It can be 7 or 8pm. In the evening I try to attend social and cultural events and network with people from the fashion and arts industries. Alternatively it’s the time I visit family and friends for birthdays or anniversaries. If I am not attending any events, I am back home at about 7pm
I have dinner with my parents, brothers and sisters. We all sit together and usually have a mixed grill. After that I try to get an hour’s study before bedtime around 10pm. My management classes are in Dubai on the weekend and they are really long, but I get to relax after the classes. For the next few years I still see myself working in Abu Dhabi, and growing with the development of the company and the city.
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