x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Magical mystery tour that promotes capital's heritage

The Life: Atef Abdullah Al Bastaki discusses one of his days heading the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority's Ambassador Programme - with video.

Senior member of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority's Emiratisation Section, Atef Abdullah Al Bastaki speaks with members of the 'Ambassador' Programme during a tour of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The Ambassador Programme develops front-facing public and private sector young nationals into 'Ambassadors' of their culture and homeland capable of sending positive messages about Abu Dhabi. Pawel Dwulit /The National
Senior member of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority's Emiratisation Section, Atef Abdullah Al Bastaki speaks with members of the 'Ambassador' Programme during a tour of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The Ambassador Programme develops front-facing public and private sector young nationals into 'Ambassadors' of their culture and homeland capable of sending positive messages about Abu Dhabi. Pawel Dwulit /The National

Atef Abdullah al Bastaki oversees Emiratisation initiatives at the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. He talks about heading a heritage and culture tour during a 10-week Ambassador Programme, which aims to teach Emirati employees and university students about the capital so they can share that knowledge with international visitors.

6am

I drive to work from Dubai, so I leave my house at 6. I want to avoid the traffic and the speed limit now is 140kph.

8.30am

Participants and I will meet at Khalifa Park. The whole purpose of this is to promote our culture and heritage to visitors, so participants need to know about all the attractions and cultural areas. On the first day, I had 67 participants. Today, we have 53. I've been eliminating one or two people every week. If you miss two days of the 10-week course, you'll be terminated. And an official letter will go to your company, because companies send me their staff for training.

9am

The bus should start moving towards Sheikh Zayed Mosque. This is sad to say, but for some, this is their first time coming. They will be put into three or four groups and we're going to mix them with the visitors. They will listen to what kinds of questions a tourist asks.

10am

We'll go towards Zayed House in Al Bateen. This place is very precious to me. This centre is full of all the personal belongings that Sheikh Zayed [the founding President of the UAE] owned: his personal perfume, first car, last car he was driving, all the medals he received from other presidents. We'll also learn about when the Abu Dhabi Police force started.

11am

We should be at Manarat Al Saadiyat. They're going to see the future projects - all the museums, business buildings as well as the condos. That's another place that a lot of visitors are interested in seeing.

Lunch

Finally, we're going to end the tour by having lunch at Al Dhafra Restaurant, which is in Mina Port. This is where they serve Arabic food. Basically, I want them to have traditional food.

About 2.30pm

Their day ends. I come back to the office because I have to put my report in about what happened.

About 4pm

We sign out with our fingerprints. Then I hit the road.

Around 5.15pm

I get home. That's when I have my breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don't have time to eat before because I've been running around, so I have either my coffee or my green tea.

Evening

I go to the Mall of Emirates, and I meet some of my friends there just to chat. My problem is if I go home and take a nap - usually people take a short nap for 15 minutes or half an hour. My naps are three hours, so if I do that, then I'm up all night.