Dubai: For UAE Nationals testing the career waters, typical career choices were jobs in the UAE government sector, or energy, banking and real estate sectors. Add to that roles in the telecom and technology spaces.
How about taking a different route and pick one in the events industry? That’s the question Abu Dhabi company Ethara is asking. It does have the credentials to ask those questions given its holdings include the Yas Marina Circuit, Etihad Park, Etihad Arena and Yas Conference Centre. Taken together or individually, they are as impressive a list of events-focused assets as it can get.
Now, Ethara wants UAE Nationals to give some serious thought to jobs in the industry, which is the reason behind the ‘Khibrah’ program it launched in November last. According to Ahmed Lari, Ethara’s Chief Corporate Services Officer, “The beauty of this is Khibrah covers all sectors within the entertainment business.
“We identify candidates who can either contribute directly to the events business, marketing and comms. And we can also advise candidates in other areas like finance, human capital, technology, engineering, the back-office.”
In short, the Khibrah intake candidates will be put to the test and, hopefully, stay on and be part of the industry when they are through with the one-year project.
We are only looking for 15 candidates this year, but we have the aim to expand as we move forward
Lari knows that it will take some getting used to, from a career choice perspective. “Yes, we have only been operating for more than a decade, but other industries like telecom have been there for almost half-a-century.
“But we have found enthusiastic and talented candidates for the first Khibrah intake. From our side, it’s important to bridge the gap between their academic knowledge and practical hands-on experience.”
Handpicking the first batch
Around 650 UAE Nationals - they need to be between 21 to 28 years - sent in applications to sign up, of which 340 qualified through the vetting process. “We are only looking for 15 candidates this year, but we have the aim to expand as we move forward,” said Lari.
“We have interviews conducted by directors, who along with line managers will act as mentors for the chosen candidates.
“I’ll be clear – in this program, we are taking things very seriously indeed.”
"Once they complete the program showing they have the capacity and the talent, we can onboard them as full-time employees or they will be given the priority (when a vacancy opens)," said Lari. "We will also be in touch with partners or sister companies with recommendation letters for them."
While each candidate will have a mentor, there is also a reporting mechanism to monitor the performance and deliverables of each of them. “Some of them will have the real potential to be a full-time employee of Ethara,” said Lari.
Currently, Ethara has 300 full-time employees on the payroll, and also works with freelancers, who always have been part of the fabric in the events and entertainment sectors.
The Khibrah candidates will get a monthly pay of Dh10,000 and be eligible for 22 days of annual leave.
"We always try to retain the talent we have - but there's always the need to bring in more of them who understand our culture and our market. And all this keeping in mind events are still a young industry in the UAE..."