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Knowledge Forum To Boost Visitor Experience

Abu Dhabi hospitality industry embraces ADA/EIC Ramadan awareness initiative

eTN  Aug 28, 2008

ABU DHABI (August 28, 2008) - The hospitality industry within Abu Dhabi has given a resounding vote of confidence to the emirate’s cultural offering following a Ramadan awareness initiative jointly staged by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and the European International College for Hotel Management and Tourism (EIC) – a hospitality training college based in the UAE capital.

Over 100 staff from Etihad, the national airline of the UAE, and hotels throughout the emirate attended a one-day Ramadan awareness course, which began with a tour of the spectacular Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque. The group then engaged in course discussion on Ramadan traditions and sampled traditional food served at Iftaars and Suhoors, the main meals taken by fasting Muslims during the Holy Month.

“As a destination which is now largely focussed on appealing to cultural seekers, it is important that the people in the front-line of delivering hospitality within Abu Dhabi have the relevant knowledge to enhance any visitor experience,” said Nasser Al Reyami, director Tourism Standards, ADTA.

“This is the first in what we hope will be an ongoing program of imparting cultural understanding to the people who most interact with our valued visitors,” he continued.

For many of the hospitality industry delegates, some relatively new to the emirate, the initiative was a real eye-opener. Nicola Moore, assistant front office manager at the Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi, said the experience had left her better prepared to assist guests at the hotel.

“It was very, very interesting. I have learned a great deal I can now pass on to our guests and also have a greater understanding of Ramadan, which will make me more tolerant. The mosque tour was a highlight and something I would really recommend everyone to participate in,” said the young Scot who arrived in the UAE capital six months ago.

“I think this emirate is seeped in culture and Ramadan and its traditions is a period many visitors would like to explore more. I will definitely be recommending they do so,” she concluded.

Frenchman Jeff Kasselis, front office manager at the Abu Dhabi Crowne Plaza was equally effusive. Having been in the UAE capital only two weeks, arriving from a previous post in Ireland, Jeff came away convinced that Ramadan is an opportunity for great inter-cultural exchange.

“The day was hugely informative. The most interesting part was obviously the tour of the mosque, which for me stands out as a prominent tourist attraction. It is a ‘must-see’ for anyone coming to Abu Dhabi, whether a professional within the hospitality and travel industry or a tourist,” he said.

Tunisian Donia Alkassemi, chief concierge at the Intercontinental Al Ain Resort, who has lived in the Garden City for four years, said the initiative was also useful to Muslims such as herself.

“The mosque tour will appeal to everyone, not just tourists and not only non-Muslims. In fact, I think it will have great appeal to Muslims through its beauty and what it represents. I will be recommending all our visitors in Al Ain to make the trip to Abu Dhabi, if only to see this,” said Donia.

Meanwhile, Donia’s HR administrator colleague, Gabriela Sagun of the Philippines, who has lived in the UAE for 16 years, believes the experience can be used to educate all hospitality employees.

“There is something in this for everyone, and I intend to now arrange trips down to Abu Dhabi for our own staff who will all be very interested in what there is to see and learn,” she said.

The EIC is now looking to work on further initiatives with ADTA to advance the overall tourist experience.

“I think we have demonstrated what can be achieved by pooling our combined expertise and resources,” said Asma Abdulla Al Fahim, international relations director, EIC. “This could be just the start of a wide program which will ultimately benefit all within the destination – residents, hospitality staff and, of course, tourists.”

The ADTA currently stages guided tours of the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Mosque. During Ramadan, the tours will be held every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at 10 am. Tours must be booked in advance by emailing .

Abu Dhabi hospitality industry embraces ADA/EIC Ramadan awareness initiative

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