The latest batch of Emirati students and graduates have begun training at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre to become cultural guides.
The Ibn Al Dar programme, meaning son of the house and taught by Emirati trainers, will teach the 25 students about the life of UAE Founding Father Sheikh Zayed as well as Islamic architecture and art.
The students will take part in workshops, attend field tours and carry out research to learn how to lead their own cultural tours.
Dr Yousif Al Obaidli, director-general of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, said the programme aims to encourage Emiratis to work in culture and tourism and promote the mosque’s message of inclusion, coexistence, peace and openness, all while preserving their national identity and culture.
A dozen batches of students have been trained since the programme launched 10 years ago. Of them, 64 graduated and were deemed qualified to lead the mosque's cultural tours.
The government has pushed initiatives that support Emiratis in the hospitality sector. As of November 2017, just 300 of the country's 1,200 registered tour guides were Emirati.
Last year, the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi launched Emirati Experiences, an Emirati-led tour programme that promised a more intimate view of the capital.