Four Dubai Men's College students take a 10-day trip to film a documentary for the islands' tourism board. Reema Saffarini talks to them

Four students from Dubai Men's College toured the Seychelles Islands for 10 days this summer where they enjoyed the local cuisine, enchanting scenery and endless activities.

Their trip, however, was not really about fun and games only, it also involved waking up every morning to the persistent ringig of the phone to start the day's work.

The applied media students were commissioned by the Seychelles Tourism Board to produce a promotional video to market the islands' cultural tourism to travel agents, shows and exhibitions.

Students Suhail Matar, Adel Al Jaberi, Hadif Eisa and Saoud Al Matroushi worked on the project which consisted of a 15-minute cultural documentary and a shorter two to four minute cultural documentary to be included in the main destination promotional DVD.

The Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) supported the students while shooting on location on the Islands.

SBC also engaged Flicker Show studios to undertake the post-production of the project.

How did it all start?
In summer 2006 the Seychelles Tourism Board hosted six students from the Dubai Men's College to work on a five-part documentary on the islands. The project was successful.

The tourism board went back this year to look for students who would help shoot a cultural tourism documentary about the islands. Students received Panasonic HD cameras - tapeless cameras - to use on the shoot.

How were the students selected?
Al Jaberi saw an advertisement in the college asking for students interested in working on the documentary.

"So I signed up and was asked to choose another three students to work with me. I picked Eisa, because he's good with taking still photos and filming, Al Matroushi for his determination, organisation and ability to get things done and Mattar because he's a good cameraman," said Al Jaberi.

By the beginning of July, the students met up with representatives from the Seychelles Tourism Office to discuss the itinerary and work plan. They took off in mid-July.

Students' different roles...
Students got to play different roles as they toured the islands. "I worked mainly as a cameraman but I also worked with audio and lighting," said Mattar.

The students faced a lot of challenges during the trip. Most of them revolved around technical work.

"We faced a lot of problems with lighting. We had to check the white balance (adjusting the intensity of the colours being recorded to the existing light) constantly. The sun would disappear every now and then and we had to adjust for that," said Eisa.

Recording audio also proved a challenge at times. "As for the sound we had a problem because suddenly an alarm would go off or buses would pass by... it was a bit hard," he said.

Moving around was the one thing Al Jaberi was tired of doing. "We had heavy equipment, we travelled from one point to another and did the recording," he said.

Mattar thought the only positive thing from all the travelling and walking was losing weight!

Lessons learned
Using the equipment was a learning experience for the students. "We never used these cameras and equipment before so we got to learn a lot about them," said Mattar.

Working abroad and learning how to prepare for a shoot were some of the points Al Jaberi highlighted when he reflected on his experience.

Photography, controlling of light and audio recording were among the skills Eisa acquired. "I just learned which angles are best to shoot, how to record sound... it was all educational," he said.

Working with people from diverse backgrounds was a plus point that Al Jaberi talked about.

"I met people of Mexican, Chinese and Indian backgrounds. It was all amazing, and we worked with a great crew from the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation. It was great," he said.

Best of times
Students engaged in a number of activities including hiking and sailing.

But what were the best for the students on the Island?
For Al Jaberi sleeping on a day off was one of the best moments he remembers.

Eisa and Mattar thought their best moments were spent on Silhouette Island. Students went on a number of activities including hiking and sailing.

Expert comments on student work

Yousuf Darr, chair of the media and communication department, Dubai Men's College:
"I am pleased to see our students exposed to such an experience that has enhanced their media skills. This project has given them the opportunity to get international exposure and global awareness. This is a project for the Seychelles government. It is a national project which not many students at this level get to work on."

Seychelles Islands

  • Officially known as the Republic of Seychelles;
  • It comprises approximately 100 islands in the Indian Ocean;
  • The capital and only urban centre and port is Victoria, located on the largest island, Mahé, where about 90 per cent of the population lives;
  • The population is mainly of mixed Asian, African, and European descent; most of the inhabitants are Roman Catholic and speak the Creole language, although English and French are the official languages;
  • The government is headed by a president, who is elected for a five-year term and is aided by a council of ministers;
  • The official currency is Rupees. Dh1 = SCR1.77764
    Information courtesy of:

Some of the places the students visited:

  • Sir Selwyn Cralrcke Market: where a variety of fish, meat, vegetables, and local artefact are sold. Saturday is market day for most people in Seychelles;
  • Grann Kaz, a national monument turned into a restaurant;
  • Tortoise farm;
  • Mausoleum on Silhouette Island;
  • Marie-Antoinette Restaurant, which is well known for its Creole architecture;
  • L'Institut Kreol - The Creole Institute in Seychelles - where they interviewed the director of the institute, Penda Choppy, about the evolution of the Creole language;
  • Botanical gardens;
  • Mission lodge - ancient ruins of a school for slave children;
  • Bel Air Cemetery.