A hospitality training workshop at the Armed Forces Officers Club &  Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
A hospitality training workshop at the Armed Forces Officers Club & Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

A lesson in Emirati hospitality



ABU DHABI // Hamdan al Mazrouei struggled to clutch an ice cube between a fork and spoon as he prepared the table for lunch. When he was finished wrangling the slippery cubes, he carefully arranged the cutlery, his giggling colleagues looking on. But he did it wrong. The small knife should have been on the outside.

Hamdan, 16, is one of about 30 Emiratis in a hospitality training programme that introduces them to careers in the hospitality and tourism sector, where they might be waiters or tour guides. That sector has one of the lowest levels of Emiratisation - officials last year said that Emiratis make up less than one per cent of its workforce .

"In all the hotels you might find just one or two [Emiratis] working, but not a whole lot. So we want to open up the hotels to bring them in," said John Noronha, the training manager at the Armed Officers Club and Hotel, which is organising the programme. "The salaries don't really help," said Abdullah Saif, 18, an accounting student at Zayed University who is participating in the programme, referring to the traditionally low pay scales in the sector, especially for entry-level positions.

All of the students are between 14 and 16 years old, and the programme is designed to catch them before they have established college or career choices. And organisers say a significant Emirati presence is needed to sustain the industry. "When people come from abroad, who is teaching them? Foreigners. It would be good if locals can tell them about it because they know the country," said Saeed al Dhaheri, a 17-year-old high school student who is taking part in the training.

The jobs are out there, he said, citing the hotels at Yas Island as proof. "It needs the sons of the country. They are more knowledgeable about the culture of the country, they can welcome them and teach others about their country," said Mohammed al Neaimi, director of the Government's Tawteen programme. But hurdles exist. Negative perceptions of the hospitality industry colour many individuals' attitudes towards the sector, experts say. Students, instructors and officials also say that the low wages and long hours act as a disincentive to Emirati youth. In addition, some parents feel the field is inappropriate for their daughters.

"There is a negative impression or thinking about hospitality, that it's a service industry and you have to serve people," Mr Noronha said. That makes it a challenge to attract Emiratis, even though they enjoy a higher salary bracket and better benefits and incentives. "We are used to luxury in our country," said Abeer Musabbah, 17, a high school student. "We are used to the highest salaries and positions. They also think, 'How can a girl stand at the reception and talk to men?'" Abeer, who said her Egyptian mother played a role in persuading her Emirati father to let her join the programme, quickly developed an affinity for the field and asked to be transferred to the guest-relations programme.

She proudly recalls her self-restraint when an angry customer approached her, rudely complaining before she calmed him down and told him the hotel would take care of his grievance. Still, she plans to pursue another primary major in college. Although she would love to work in hospitality, she is unsure if it offers her sufficient career progression. The students, meanwhile, revel in their newest assignments: cheesecakes they have made, which some plan to take home to impress their mothers, and bowls of tabouleh.

"The makings of my hand, by my eyes," one student sang, recalling the words of an Egyptian tune celebrating food made with one's own hands. Others whip out their BlackBerrys and cameras to film their colleagues as they make tabouleh, threatening them with embarrassing YouTube videos. This is the third time the officer's club has held the course, which includes sessions on culinary arts, etiquette, hospitality training, hospitality career planning, introductions to UAE cultural attractions like the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and a glimpse into international hotel operations at the Emirates Palace, Qasr al Sarab, Atlantis Hotel and Yas Marina.

Students are briefed on Abu Dhabi's development plans and meet other youth studying hospitality in the UAE. The programme runs between July 11 and August 5. Mr Noronha said three students had expressed interest in careers in the field beyond training. "Out of 30, if we have three people working that's good enough," he said. The students laughed about properly using knives and forks to eat, joking about more relaxed eating habits at home. Earlier, they had reached a compromise to use cutlery the American way rather than in the continental fashion. That let them avoid holding a fork in their left hands, which is frowned upon by some Muslims.

But beyond the playfulness, some recognised they had a role to play as faces of the country. "Bringing tourists in and showing them around is something to be proud of," said Mr Saif, who is considering being a tour guide. "You tell them about your country. It's a good field and you can be proud of your country." @Email:kshaheen@thenational.ae

World Cup warm up matches

May 24 Pakistan v Afghanistan, Bristol; Sri Lanka v South Africa, Cardiff

May 25 England v Australia, Southampton; India v New Zealand, The Oval

May 26 South Africa v West Indies, Bristol; Pakistan v Bangladesh, Cardiff

May 27 Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton; England v Afghanistan, The Oval

May 28 West Indies v New Zealand, Bristol; Bangladesh v India, Cardiff

England's lowest Test innings

- 45 v Australia in Sydney, January 28, 1887

- 46 v West Indies in Port of Spain, March 25, 1994

- 51 v West Indies in Kingston, February 4, 2009

- 52 v Australia at The Oval, August 14, 1948

- 53 v Australia at Lord's, July 16, 1888

- 58 v New Zealand in Auckland, March 22, 2018

Guns N’ Roses’s last gig before Abu Dhabi was in Hong Kong on November 21. We were there – and here’s what they played, and in what order. You were warned.

  • It’s So Easy
  • Mr Brownstone
  • Chinese Democracy
  • Welcome to the Jungle
  • Double Talkin’ Jive
  • Better
  • Estranged
  • Live and Let Die (Wings cover)
  • Slither (Velvet Revolver cover)
  • Rocket Queen
  • You Could Be Mine
  • Shadow of Your Love
  • Attitude (Misfits cover)
  • Civil War
  • Coma
  • Love Theme from The Godfather (movie cover)
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine
  • Wichita Lineman (Jimmy Webb cover)
  • Wish You Were Here (instrumental Pink Floyd cover)
  • November Rain
  • Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden cover)
  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
  • Nightrain

Encore:

  • Patience
  • Don’t Cry
  • The Seeker (The Who cover)
  • Paradise City
COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

The five pillars of Islam
Three tips from La Perle's performers

1 The kind of water athletes drink is important. Gwilym Hooson, a 28-year-old British performer who is currently recovering from knee surgery, found that out when the company was still in Studio City, training for 12 hours a day. “The physio team was like: ‘Why is everyone getting cramps?’ And then they realised we had to add salt and sugar to the water,” he says.

2 A little chocolate is a good thing. “It’s emergency energy,” says Craig Paul Smith, La Perle’s head coach and former Cirque du Soleil performer, gesturing to an almost-empty open box of mini chocolate bars on his desk backstage.

3 Take chances, says Young, who has worked all over the world, including most recently at Dragone’s show in China. “Every time we go out of our comfort zone, we learn a lot about ourselves,” she says.

RESULTS

Men
1 Marius Kipserem (KEN) 2:04:04
2 Abraham Kiptum (KEN) 2:04:16
3 Dejene Debela Gonfra (ETH) 2:07:06
4 Thomas Rono (KEN) 2:07:12
5 Stanley Biwott (KEN) 2:09:18

Women
1 Ababel Yeshaneh (ETH) 2:20:16
2 Eunice Chumba (BRN) 2:20:54
3 Gelete Burka (ETH) 2:24:07
4 Chaltu Tafa (ETH) 2:25:09
5 Caroline Kilel (KEN) 2:29:14

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now

Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway

Director: Ashima Chibber 

Stars: Rani Mukerji, Anirban Bhattacharya and Jim Sarbh 

Rating: 2/5

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

Tips from the expert

Dobromir Radichkov, chief data officer at dubizzle and Bayut, offers a few tips for UAE residents looking to earn some cash from pre-loved items.

  1. Sellers should focus on providing high-quality used goods at attractive prices to buyers.
  2. It’s important to use clear and appealing photos, with catchy titles and detailed descriptions to capture the attention of prospective buyers.
  3. Try to advertise a realistic price to attract buyers looking for good deals, especially in the current environment where consumers are significantly more price-sensitive.
  4. Be creative and look around your home for valuable items that you no longer need but might be useful to others.
PRIMERA LIGA FIXTURES

All times UAE (+4 GMT)

Saturday
Atletico Madrid v Sevilla (3pm)
Alaves v Real Madrid (6.15pm)
Malaga v Athletic Bilbao (8.30pm)
Girona v Barcelona (10.45pm)

Sunday
Espanyol v Deportivo la Coruna (2pm)
Getafe v Villarreal (6.15pm)
Eibar v Celta Vigo (8.30pm)
Las Palmas v Leganes (8.30pm)
Real Sociedad v Valencia (10.45pm)

Monday
Real Betis v Levante (11.pm)

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Nomad Homes
Started: 2020
Founders: Helen Chen, Damien Drap, and Dan Piehler
Based: UAE and Europe
Industry: PropTech
Funds raised so far: $44m
Investors: Acrew Capital, 01 Advisors, HighSage Ventures, Abstract Ventures, Partech, Precursor Ventures, Potluck Ventures, Knollwood and several undisclosed hedge funds

MATCH INFO

BRIGHTON 0

MANCHESTER UNITED 3

McTominay 44'

Mata 73'

Pogba 80'

Malcolm & Marie

Directed by: Sam Levinson

Starring: John David Washington and Zendaya

Three stars

List of alleged parties
  • May 15 2020: Boris Johnson is said to have attended a Downing Street pizza party
  • 27 Nov 2020: PM gives speech at leaving do for his staff
  • Dec 10 2020: Staff party held by then-education secretary Gavin Williamson 
  • Dec 13 2020: Mr Johnson and his then-fiancee Carrie Symonds throw a flat party
  • Dec 14 2020: Shaun Bailey holds staff party at Conservative Party headquarters 
  • Dec 15 2020: PM takes part in a staff quiz
  • Dec 18 2020: Downing Street Christmas party 

Company profile

Name: GiftBag.ae

Based: Dubai

Founded: 2011

Number of employees: 4

Sector: E-commerce

Funding: Self-funded to date

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Results

5.30pm: Maiden Dh165,000 (Turf) 1,600m; Winner: Al Battar, Mickael Barzalona (jockey), Salem bin Ghadayer (trainer).

6.05pm: Maiden Dh165,000 (Dirt) 1,200m; Winner: Good Fighter, Richard Mullen, Satish Seemar.

6.40pm: Handicap Dh185,000 (T) 1,200m; Winner: Way Of Wisdom, Tadhg O’Shea, Satish Seemar.

7.15pm: Handicap Dh170,000 (D) 2,200m; Winner: Immortalised, Tadhg O’Shea, Satish Seemar.

7.50pm: Handicap Dh185,000 (T) 2,000m; Winner: Franz Kafka, James Doyle, Simon Crisford.

8.25pm: Handicap Dh185,000 (D) 1,200m; Winner: Mayadeen, Connor Beasley, Doug Watson.

9pm: Handicap Dh185,000 (T) 1,600m; Winner: Chiefdom, Mickael Barzalona, Salem bin Ghadayer

HAEMOGLOBIN DISORDERS EXPLAINED

Thalassaemia is part of a family of genetic conditions affecting the blood known as haemoglobin disorders.

Haemoglobin is a substance in the red blood cells that carries oxygen and a lack of it triggers anemia, leaving patients very weak, short of breath and pale.

The most severe type of the condition is typically inherited when both parents are carriers. Those patients often require regular blood transfusions - about 450 of the UAE's 2,000 thalassaemia patients - though frequent transfusions can lead to too much iron in the body and heart and liver problems.

The condition mainly affects people of Mediterranean, South Asian, South-East Asian and Middle Eastern origin. Saudi Arabia recorded 45,892 cases of carriers between 2004 and 2014.

A World Health Organisation study estimated that globally there are at least 950,000 'new carrier couples' every year and annually there are 1.33 million at-risk pregnancies.

MATCH SCHEDULE

Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg
Tuesday, April 24 (10.45pm)

Liverpool v Roma

Wednesday, April 25
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid (10.45pm)

Europa League semi-final, first leg
Thursday, April 26

Arsenal v Atletico Madrid (11.05pm)
Marseille v Salzburg (11.05pm)

Results:

Men's wheelchair 800m T34: 1. Walid Ktila (TUN) 1.44.79; 2. Mohammed Al Hammadi (UAE) 1.45.88; 3. Isaac Towers (GBR) 1.46.46.

Company profile

Company name: Hayvn
Started: 2018
Founders: Christopher Flinos, Ahmed Ismail
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Sector: financial
Initial investment: undisclosed
Size: 44 employees
Investment stage: series B in the second half of 2023
Investors: Hilbert Capital, Red Acre Ventures

Result

Arsenal 4
Monreal (51'), Ramsey (82'), Lacazette 85', 89')

West Ham United 1
Arnautovic (64')

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5


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