Keeping campers happy can be a demanding job

The Life: Hisham Sidani, the operations manager at Workers Village, talks about trying to keep 10,000 people happy.

Hisham Sidani is the operations manager at Workers Village, which is home to about 10,000 men. Sammy Dallal / The National
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Hisham Sidani is the operations manager at Workers Village, which is home to about 10,000 men, but will one day house 34,000 labourers and supervisors outside Abu Dhabi. If it sounds impossible to keep a cast of thousands happy, well, that's because it is:


I get up and I am on duty by 8am at the latest


The first thing I do is check my e-mails … for updates from the night team about any problems, any issues, any mishaps. Let's say a client checked in yesterday but he doesn't have any pictures, we don't know about him. I take care of all these things.


I meet my management team. I am a very systematic person. It is the only way to run this operation, to be organised and well structured, otherwise you lose track very easily. I manage about 790 employees. They are all different nationalities and different cultures. You have to be able to show compassion to their cultures.


Answer the clients' complaints. Some will complain that they did not get submitted to this dining room, others that they did not get enough food, or the food does not taste good. You get this because you are catering to people of different backgrounds, so it's hard to please everybody. You get so many complaints, especially (about) the new guys as they don't know the rules. They might be smoking in their rooms. We tell them they cannot and send a warning to their company. The penalty is Dh50 (US$13.60).


I go up to the city and tour to make sure the facilities managers are doing their jobs as per the guidelines we have set for them. I inspect random blocks. I also do viewings for clients.


I bring a sandwich in and eat it here at my desk.


I coordinate with the rest of the departments to see if they need anything. We make orders from suppliers. We cook 1 tonne of rice, but it will probably be more than 2 to 3 tonnes (once it is up to full capacity), 100,000 Arabic breads, 100,000 chapattis and 3 tonnes of meat every day. I have been in the services industry for 25 years and this is one of the most organised and structured operations I have seen.


My management meets with the front-end crew and they give me a report about what happened during the day for us to prepare for the next day. This could say we have a leak here or this client is not happy with this room and wants to move, they are missing their laundry, stuff like this.

5:30pm or 6pm

I leave the office.


I wind down after a long day. When my family is around I spend time with them. Now they are travelling, so I try to go to the gym.

10pm or 11pm

I go to bed. At times I feel like I've accomplished a lot, and at times it seems like I am running in circles. But you have to get motivated and try to think every day is another day, and you have to do better than the day before.

* Gillian Duncan