We noticed you're blocking ads.

Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker.

Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us

Font Size

- Aa +

Thu 1 Jan 1970 12:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

National treasure

Arabian Adventures operations controller Mediya Mohd Suroor Bin Hadi wants more young Emiratis to promote their culture and country by joining the tourism industry.

Arabian Adventures operations controller Mediya Mohd Suroor Bin Hadi wants more young Emiratis to promote their culture and country by joining the tourism industry.

When she says she loves to travel, Mediya Bin Hadi is quick to dispel the image of the ‘typical' Emirati tourist.

"When I travel I like to visit all the places in the country - not just go shopping," Bin Hadi explains.

Who best to show them what this place is all about than the locals themselves?

"I love to learn about other cultures and I like to discover other worlds."

Bin Hadi is the operations controller at Arabian Adventures, the destination management division of the Emirates Group.

She is responsible for government liaison across all departments, including reservations, business development and MICE.

Bin Hadi is also instrumental in developing tours and safaris, spreading her knowledge of local culture and tradition to the rest of the team. 

Her keen love of travel seems to be outweighed only by the satisfaction she receives by showing international tourists around her own country.

"I like to show our hospitality. Most tourists who come here do not have the opportunity to meet locals, but who best to show them what this place is all about than the locals themselves?" she asks.

A former teacher, Bin Hadi has always been known as "the family tourist guide" and the first one to be called on when friends are in town.

"I would take them all around Dubai and really show them the depth of our culture and  hospitality; sometimes I used to invite them over to my mother's house and she would of course then have to cook for them," she says.

"When they interact with the locals they really get the right information and feel."

Bin Hadi says the tourism industry is a serious contributor to the UAE's economy; a fact that she hopes will encourage young Emiratis to consider it as a viable career option.

She is determined to prove that the industry has come a long way and can hold its own on the global stage.

"[Tourism] is not only about safari and a cultural night out in the desert; it's really become an important source of business for the country," says Bin Hadi.

"Emiratis need to understand that it is important for them to get involved in this business...this is their country, they need to present it in the right way and send out the right message  to the tourists."

Bin Hadi is campaigning for tourism to be taught to children at elementary school so that students can specialise in certain areas, such as aviation or hospitality, once they reach university.

"At the secondary level a course or subject on tourism should be introduced so that the Emirati youth can better understand the industry and open their eyes to possibilities and benefits of pursuing a career in the industry," she explains.

DTCM recruitment initiatives

The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) used the recent Employment Week 2008 at Dubai Women's College to promote the importance of the service industry.

"During the four days of the event, participants and visitors were encouraged and educated about the industry and their role and DTCM also looked at recruiting fresh talent from the Emirati women," says DTCM director of human resources Mariam Al Maeeni.

DTCM is now considering a number of portfolios and CVs from young women at the college.

When Bin Hadi began her career at Arabian Adventures in 1998 she was the only Emirati in the company.

Before being accepted into the two-year training programme, she underwent a four-hour assessment test, an intensive aviation industry course and a series of interviews.

In addition to her operations duties, Bin Hadi now runs training programmes for Emirati students who are studying tourism at university and want to take  a first hand look at the industry.

"A lot of Emiratis are interested and I think they will come back," she says.

"I believe that you will have a lot of locals becoming involved in tourism in the next three or four years."

However, while there is plenty of interest in the industry, Bin Hadi says the demanding work environment may be a potential barrier for some nationals.

"In the tourism industry you have to work for long hours and culturally this is something we are not used to," she explains. "The industry takes you away from your house and your family."

Indeed, Bin Hadi herself struggled to raise two children while studying at night and working as a teacher during the day.

"I had to go to work in the morning, come back to teach my daughters and feed them, then run to the university by four o'clock," she says.

"I finished my study at eight in the evening then came back home and prepared my lessons for the next day."

While she admits it was a difficult process, Bin Hadi credits the strong support of her family and later her managers at Arabian Adventures as the foundation of her success.

Ultimately her philosophy is "when you love something you will find a way to do it".

This motto has seen Bin Hadi continue to advance with her studies by participating in training programmes and staff development courses at Emirates.

She recently achieved a 98% rating for the completion of a five-phase course on airline management that was designed exclusively for Emirati employees.

"I will continue doing this for as long as I possibly can - I have the passion to learn," says Bin Hadi.

Class of 2008

Laura Warne asked industry professionals attending the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management 2008 graduation, which took place in November, why continued hospitality and tourism training is important for the future of the UAE.

Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management managing director Ron Hilvert: "We have a commitment to introduce more Emiratis into the tourism and hospitality industry; this is very important to us."

World Travel and Tourism Trade Council president Jean-Claude Baumgarten: "These students want to be successful, but they also want to change the world. They are going to join one of the biggiest industries in the world. We [in the hospitality industry] do something that very few people can do and that is to mix people together. Tourism creates dignity and self esteem in the people who work in the industry. Travel and tourism is the most resilient industry in the world - we have overcome many things."

Ecole hôtelièr de Lausanne general director Ruud Reuland: "The four words that sum up the industry as it stands today are: growth; green; great; crisis. Crisis does not fit in with this group, but a crisis never fits. I want the hospitality industry to become the benchmark for sustainability."

The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management dean Dr Stuart Jauncey: "Unlike other qualifications, for a tourism degree students study many topics, from culinary to culture."

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Real news, real analysis and real insight have real value – especially at a time like this. Unlimited access ArabianBusiness.com can be unlocked for as little as $4.75 per month. Click here for more details.

Read next