The tourism sector is desperately seeking Emirati nationals to take on jobs throughout the industry in order to allow guests to experience more local culture when they visit.
Ian Mason who teaches local Emiratis Travel and Tourism Management at the Abu Dhabi Vocational Education and Training Institute (ADVETI) said: “Survey after survey shows that travellers travel because of culture. As part of that experience they want to engage with the local people. They want tour guides that are Emirati, they want to meet people at hotels that are Emirati, they want to meet people at attractions that are Emirati - so they can get a true interpretation of the local culture and heritage, but also look at the traditional dress and all the other aspects. But the problem is they are not getting that.”
Mason said there was a “big gap in the market” for Emirati nationals to establish new cultural experiences for tourists that were not currently available.
“What setting up cultural food tours? Or cultural heritage tours?” he suggested.
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) is currently making a big push to recruit more local Emirati tour guides in order to fill jobs soon to come up at new attractions on Saadiyaat Island.
Atef Abdulla Al Bastaki, ADTA’s senior executive in charge of Emiratisation said it was vital that upcoming cultural attractions would be staffed by nationals.
“Previously we had other nationalities doing the tours, but imagine having group of Australians and there is an Australian tour guide talking about how ‘we in the UAE we dress like this.. ,’ and he is wearing a suit. The tourists can’t really imagine it,” he said.