Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) invited Haaga-Helia tourism students to join the Royal Weddings during the Islamic holiday of Eid, the end of the holy fasting month Ramadan. The three sons of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum celebrated their weddings in a spectacular way. The female students from Porvoo and Haaga Campuses worked as event support 5.-9.6.2019 in two of the royal brides’ Henna Night Parties and furthermore at three parallel female weddings for Emirati brides.
The experience was overwhelming -the climate with temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius, the long working hours (no shift shorter than 12 hours), the abundance of decoration and food at the events, the different style of communication and supervising staff among the managers. The team of students were prepared for the job in form of an intensive training with invited guest speakers with experience from Arab Countries and discussions about intercultural communication. Nevertheless, the first day was a bit of a chock. After a night on the flight and check-in at the hotel, it was already time for lunch and joint training session with other hospitality students from Morocco and Lebanon – and then off to work!
Working as event support at weddings and other events in Dubai enables students to experience extravagant décor and catering services and observe how to manage the numerous service crew. The communication style is very different from what we are used to in Scandinavia and staff members are not at all empowered to make own decisions. The work is physically demanding and requires good social skills, ability to cope with uncertainty as well as excellent customer service attitude. Students got to work in very diverse teams with staff members from different countries. Our tourism students performed very well and got positive feedback on these. Despite the tough working conditions, the students were happy with the learning experience. We even had time for a sightseeing tour together and some active students made it to a desert safari. The generous hospitality and care our hosts showed the group was genuinely warm and welcoming.
Next event support opportunity for students will be in November when DWTC is catering for the AirShow and Formula 1 race in Abu Dhabi. DWTC offers a 6-9 month internship for event and hospitality students, and this short-term event support is a form of introduction to tasks and the operational environment.