x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Fast start to Grand Prix volunteer search

A scheme to recruit up to 900 Emirati volunteers to help out during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is met with a strong response.

Coloured lights illuminate the Yas Hotel on the Formula One racetrack.
Coloured lights illuminate the Yas Hotel on the Formula One racetrack.

ABU DHABI // A scheme to recruit up to 900 Emirati volunteers to help out during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has had a strong reponse, organisers said yesterday. Even before the publicity campaign started, said Takatof, the volunteer organisation of the Emirates Foundation, it had had many calls from people offering to participate in the Formula One event, scheduled for October 30 to November 1 on Yas Island. The volunteers will work in airports and hotels to welcome visitors and provide information, and inside the Yas Marina Circuit during the event.

Takatof officially launched its campaign yesterday to recruit volunteers. At least 600 are needed, but the organisation set a target of 900. Takatof said earlier this month that more than 300 people had already volunteered. Volunteers must be UAE nationals, more than 18 years old and should have a strong command of Arabic and English. Applicants will be interviewed by Takatof officials. Recruitment is expected to finish by the end of this month, with October reserved for training.

The volunteers will be trained in customer service, ceremony and hospitality, as well as health safety, security, traffic control and firefighting. The goal, in addition to making the event run smoothly, is to present visitors with a positive image of the country, Takatof officials said. "Our role is to make sure everyone is comfortable," said Mohammed al Mansouri, a Takatof supervisor. "Every volunteer, male and female, will be required to wear national dress and will be tasked to give a positive image of the country.

"A lot of visitors will come from outside the country and for a short period of time, so it is important they do not get the wrong image." Maytha al Habsi, the head of Takatof, said volunteers would benefit from the experience. "Participating in this event has several advantages for young Emiratis, such as improving their skills and self-confidence," she said. "This is a chance for them to get in contact with people from a variety of cultures, which would improve their ability to better represent their country in international forums in the future."

Mr al Mansouri said Takatof had finished recruiting and assigning leaders and captains, and was now seeking volunteers and setting up training. Volunteer groups will consist of a leader, four captains and 20 volunteers. "No one would work in airports Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports hotels and the circuit unless they are fully trained," he said. "In addition to being a national duty, participation will provide us with a very good experience."

Humaid al Hamadi, another Takatof supervisor, said volunteers would be positioned at 15 hotels, two airports and six stands inside the racing circuit. He said 100 volunteers would work in two or three shifts at Abu Dhabi International Airport, and an unspecified number will be at Dubai International Airport. Volunteers would be responsible for welcoming guests, providing first aid and information, and even organising traffic, he said.

Last April, the organisers of the Grand Prix said a plan was in place to have Emiratis trained to fill most of the marshalling positions at the circuit in the next five years. Among the most demanding jobs will be working alongside F1 officials as scrutineers, assessing the cars after the race to ensure they meet international regulations. Most of the marshalling volunteer positions this year are being filled by experienced staff from the UK, as well as from the circuits in Bahrain and Doha. Some marshals will also be recruited from the Dubai Autodrome.

hhassan@thenational.ae