Desert Islands, Moutain biking with Emirati Guide
Travel and tourism is the world’s fastest-growing industry, while the United Arab Emirates remains a premier tourist destination. Offering a number of internationally-renowned landmarks and attractions combined with iconic desert and wildlife offerings, the UAE provides a travel experience which is in many ways unique.
The natural hospitality of Emirati nationals, combined with their cultural knowledge, makes them the perfect representatives for visitors to come away with a lasting impression of the UAE’s rich history and the progressive initiatives that will sustain the nation into the future.
Reiterating its commitment to upholding and promoting the cultural heritage and history of the United Arab Emirates. Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara is offering island tours to guests with Emirati tour guide Yasmeen Ibrahim Al Hammadi.
“Desert Islands Resort & Spa is located in an area of rich Emirati history and Yasmeen is an ideal candidate to share the many stories of the Island with our guests.” remarks Christian Zunk, General Manager, Desert Islands Resorts and Spa by Anantara. “Each Anantara property remains true to its indigenous environment. We work closely with TDIC to offer employment opportunities to UAE Nationals and ensure they are an integral part of our team, Yasmeen is a great example for Emiratis considering a career in travel, tourism and hospitality.”
Within the broad range of activities Desert Islands Resort & Spa offers are guided wadi walk, mountain biking, kayaking through the lush mangroves lagoon, a wildlife drive, archery, or horseback riding at the Sir Bani Yas Stables or on excursions around the island.
Reflecting on her experience on the island and her day to day encounters, Yasmeen says: “I love my job! As an adventure guide, I get the opportunity to portray the natural face of the UAE, I get to interact with various visitors’ profiles either living or visiting the UAE, some come as individual explorers, some as couples and some as big family and/or groups of friends. It’s all very exciting because we have variables on both sides the guests’ and the wildlife on the island, which makes every experience very unique.
My role is to guide the guests through their selected activities; the most requested one is the wildlife drive. During their visit I get the opportunity to explain the history of the UAE, Sir Bani Yas Island and the origin of the animals present on the island with further elaborations on their habits and behaviours. The Arabian Oryx, the cheetahs, the giraffes and the ostriches get most of the attention and they are quite fun to observe.
On a regular day I start work at 5:30 in the morning and end my day at 7:00 in the evening. We start early because it’s the ideal time to see the animals roaming around as daylight breaks, plus it’s feeding time, so we can spot a lot of actions in the park.
My joy at work comes from the visitors. When I get to talk and share our Arabian hospitality, their interest and curiosity is a form of acceptance and appreciation for me and there is also the benefit of exchanging information and knowledge. It’s even more rewarding when we see visitors returning to the island and asking about us. Life on the island is a blessing; the people here treat us so well. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Looking back, I didn’t really think I’d end up working as an Adventure Guide; at first I just enrolled in the tourism courses out of curiosity, I wanted to learn about tourism in general, which was a topic that was on my mind for a while, I used to read a lot about it and watch some documentaries on TV and do some personal research which led me to the course. I realized I was hooked on tourism, when the more I learned the more I wanted to discover. Luckily part of my training course was to put my knowledge into practice at Desert Islands. This landed me the job which I accepted without any hesitation, along with other Emirati students.
I would definitely encourage more Emiratis to consider such a unique job or simply a job in the tourism or hospitality industry. The guest experience is much more rewarding when an Emirati represents his own country to visitors, only the locals are qualified enough to talk about the culture and traditions of the UAE.
I would like to thank TDIC for giving me and the other Emirati girls this opportunity to be a guide and represent my country to people who are interested to know about the UAE in general and special thanks to Miss Heather Read who encouraged us to take the course in tourism and helped us to become guides”.