x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The first rule is to know your audience

The director of guest activities at the Atlantis hotel, Seema Syed, talks about her move from LA to Dubai for the chance to work with teenagers.

Seema Syed with attendees of the Atlantis hotel's Club Rush.
Seema Syed with attendees of the Atlantis hotel's Club Rush.

The director of guest activities at the Atlantis hotel, Seema Syed, talks about her move from LA to Dubai for the chance to work with teenagers. Since the Atlantis hotel opened in September last year on the Palm Jumeriah, its Club Rush has become one of the hottest hangouts in the city... for teenagers. Seema Syed believes it is important to have a place like this for young adults, which is why she uprooted her life in Los Angeles to take up the role of director of guest activities for the hotel in April.

"During a holiday in Dubai, I met someone through a common acquaintance who was working with the Atlantis on guest recreation. We started talking about the fantastic kids-and-teen propositions on offer and I just knew that I had to be part of this in some way," Syed says. "I like Dubai as it's such a great base to travel from and I wanted to work with kids again. I used to when I was back at home in a more corporate setting; organising team-building and summer camps for them. They have so much to teach us - they are the future."

Club Rush offers the latest games, movies and music in a lounge/ nightclub setting, supervised by a youthful staff. "It appeals to well-travelled and informed teenagers, who despite their diversity hold similar interests," says Syed. "On any given Thursday we see anywhere between 50 to 75 teenagers. We have regulars, a lot of repeat guests from the resort as well as UAE residents. During the school year, we've become a popular venue for teen birthday parties, school functions and dances.

"When I was growing up, places like Club Rush didn't exist. We spent our time with friends, attending concerts and listening to pop stars like Vanilla Ice and LL Cool J. Even today, teenagers don't get enough opportunities to hang out with their friends in a safe and controlled environment that is relatively adult-free. The advantage here is that they can come to a place that truly caters to them. They can chill out and meet new friends from all over the world."

Syed says she has noticed the difference in children raised in the UAE compared with those in her home city. "The kids here are much more worldly and better travelled than those in LA. Dubai has so many cultures. I think there's a different intelligence because of that." Syed also tries to keep abreast of the latest teen trends in order to offer relevant activities at the club. "I still think like a teenager," she laughs. "I've always been a kid at heart and that's really important when you work with children. You really do have to think on their wavelength."