x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Chaperone service for women on visits

A new chaperone service, the first of its kind in the region, will enable women visiting the country to book a female "friend".

A new chaperone service, the first of its kind in the region, will enable women visiting the country to book a female "friend" to accompany them on a shopping trip or to dinner. May Russell, a former British police officer, and Shaik Hamdan, an Abu Dhabi-based businessman, plan to launch the company Exclusively Yours, run "by women for women", at the end of September.

Ms Russell, who runs a similar service in the UK, sees the Emirates as an ideal market for the chaperone service, with an increasing number of women travelling to the country either alone, or with their spouse on a business trip. "When you travel you often see single women in hotel lounges or by the pool buried in a book," she said. "These may be confident women but they might not like the idea of going out to dinner or shopping alone."

The service will target businesswomen, those accompanying their husbands on business, tourists and newly arrived expatriates, providing them with a "companion" familiar with the city, Ms Russell said. "I want the woman to feel like she's going out with a friend. "It's such a shame if women visit the UAE and don't see much past their hotel." The company has signed-up about 30 women to work full- or part-time, as "chaperones". The women speak several languages including Arabic, English, Hindi and Russian.

"We will tailor the service to whatever the particular client requires," said Mr Hamdan, the co-founder of the company. He said the service had already attracted interest from several clients. However, the service, which will initially be available in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, will not come cheap: prices are still being finalised, but are likely to be at least US$200 (Dh730) a day. lmorris@thenational.ae