University to train events organisers

Zayed University is planning to offer the first professional festival and events management course for Emiratis.

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ABU DHABI // A boom in events and festivals means there is a growing need for trained people to make them happen. Zayed University is planning to help meet that demand by offering the first professional festival and events management course for Emiratis in the tourism authorities, hotels and events industry. The university has teamed up with Edinburgh's Napier University to offer a four-day professional development course covering aspects such as marketing, budgeting, organisation and structuring events.

Christopher Shove, from the Institute of Community Engagement at Zayed University, said: "Not everyone has the time or inclination to do the master's programme we recently launched in tourism management. There were no courses like this to serve this market of professionals and it has been very popular." Ahmed Marzouqi, the events co-ordinator for the Sharjah Department of Tourism, says that he and the management team from the department will be taking the coming courses.

Sharjah is offering more and more events such as the upcoming Water Festival, and he says they are still trying to bring more tourism to the emirate, as well as offer more events for its residents. "We're looking to get more tourists and help people learn more about the emirate, not just from abroad but from the other emirates," he said. The course, which takes its first cohort on April 25, is open to international students but has had a 90 per cent take up by Emirati professionals from companies such as the Dubai World Trade Centre and the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

"This is primarily aimed at the Emirati managers in the industry here," said Mr Shove. The course will be delivered by the former director of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Paul Gudgin, and Jane Ali-Knight from the Scottish university, which already offers the Dh12,000 (US$3,270) programme in Hong Kong and France. "Festivals and events are becoming so big in the region and especially in Abu Dhabi so there is a lot of money being channelled into the area," said Ms Ali-Knight, who says it is the key to developing local talent for the rapidly growing industry.

"With events such as the F1, Womad and the film festival, it's an area that needs professional development as there is no course like this for the industry here. "We're not saying that after the four days they'll be able to run the F1, but it will be a good insight and overview for them as well as a key networking tool while there is no professional body for the industry here."