The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has launched projects to attract young Emirati graduates to the hospitality sector, which is not the first choice for the UAE nationals, who more likely to go for government, banking or medical sectors.
According to the GCC Hospitality Industry Report 2012 (Alpen Capital), the hospitality market in the UAE is forecast to grow at an average rate of 8.1 per cent in the next four years. Moreover, a new study from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) states that the travel and tourism industry contributed 14 per cent to the UAE economy in 2012, well above the global 9 per cent.
Last year, Dh193.6 billion of the UAE’s GDP came from the industry and that contribution is expected to rise by 3.2 per cent by the end of this year
Commenting on the potential of this sector to offer careers to young Emiratis, Dr Ayoub Kazim, Managing Director of Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Village, said: “Demand for skilled workers in the hospitality sector has never been higher and we feel it is our role as a home of the region’s education and training institutes, to facilitate a more coordinated approach between academia and industry.”
The recently announced Mall of the World project, coupled with winning the Expo 2020 bid, means that demand is only going to increase.
There are a lot of preconceived notions about the hotel industry that drive Emiratis away, Lucy Hay, CEO of Expressions Arabia, a manpower training organisation, says.
“I have trained thousands of employees in the hospitality sector in the UAE and a very small number of those were Emiratis. I always found it a little disappointing that the famous ‘Arab hospitality’ was not in evidence in any of the hotels in the UAE,” Hay said.
She pointed out that tourists come to the UAE to experience the culture, lifestyle and heritage of the and it definitely should be experienced through the hotels.
“Some of the reasons why there are so few Emiratis in this sector are disapproval from the family, the fact that alcohol is served in the hotels, it is not seen to have a clear career path and, traditionally, you work long hours for relatively low pay,” Hay said.
She feels it is important to have Emiratis in the front line to greet hotel guests. “I started working on a project recently whereby we encourage the hotels to open up roles such as ‘ambassador’. Emiratis are in the front line, meeting and greeting guests … There are one or two hotels who already do this and I believe it is very successful.”