Universities respond to growing tourism in Dubai with hospitality courses

Universities respond to growing tourism in Dubai with hospitality courses

Dubai, UAE: Universities are answering the demand for more professionals in the emirate’s growing tourism industry.

Modul University Vienna, which offers courses in hospitality, has opened in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, and Middlesex University Dubai will launch a master’s degree in international tourism management next year.

Patrick Antaki, general manager of Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa in Dubai, welcomed the developments.

He said there was currently fewer than a handful of institutions offering hospitality training and education.

“There is a shortage of qualified associates in our industry, caused mostly by the pace at which travel and tourism around the world is developing,” he said.

“The expansion of the hospitality education sector will help us to get a better-trained workforce.”

Zaid Maleh, managing director of Modul University in Dubai, said its first intake exceeded expectations.

“We were expecting about 60 students but we thought even that may be ambitious. But we have ended up with 108,” he said.

Five per cent of the students are Emirati.

The university offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality management. There is also continuing education for industry profesionals or people who wish to join the industry.

“For many years in the region the industry has been seen as entry-level and service-based, but we are doing a lot of outreach in schools to really show the variety of careers and seniority it offers, from accounts to marketing and front office to top management,” said Mr Maleh.

Saskia Langhammer, who was among the students in the first intake, said she had reservations about her choice of study.

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“It is a risk. You don’t know how it’ll be, if it will stay open, if it closes you’d have to move again,” said the German-South African, 18.

However, it was a good choice because Austria is like “a second home” for her, she said.

“I wanted to stay and study here, as it’s where my family is and ultimately I want to work here, so this just made sense.”

Dr Cody Paris, deputy director of Middlesex University Dubai, said tourism was a major industry for Dubai.

According to the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index, Dubai was ranked the fourth most visited city in the world with an estimated 15.27 million visitors this year, up 7.5 per cent from last year. The emirate is expected to attract 20 million foreign visitors each year over the next five years.

“This growth will require people that are knowledgeable about the business of tourism and about the wider societal, economic, environmental and historical contexts of the industry,” said Dr Paris.

“By studying locally, students have access to lecturers with industry experience and one of the leading centres for cutting edge tourism research in the region, giving them a competitive advantage over their internationally trained colleagues.

“On graduation, our students are not only knowledgeable about the business of tourism but have an in-depth understanding of tourism in the region.”

© The National