The first batch of students from Abu Dhabi's first hotel management and tourism college is set to graduate on June 15. The European International College (EIC), which opened in 2007, has attracted more than 73 students of 35 nationalities, offering them a two-year Diploma in Hotel Management together with hands-on working experience.

EIC's academic programme is accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and is affiliated with Cesar Ritz Colleges Switzerland, making the programme recognised both locally and internationally.

EIC graduates can transfer to César Ritz Colleges Switzerland for the Bachelor of International Business in Hotel and Tourism Management.

The opening of EIC goes in line with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority's (ADTA) ambitious plan to expand its overseas network and attract 2.7 million guests to Abu Dhabi hotels by 2012.

"The European International College of hotel management and tourism is an important partner supporting a key ADTA strategic role of raising tourism industry professionalism," said Nasser Al Reyami, Tourism Standards Division Director, ADTA.

"EIC has collaborated with ADTA on numerous projects. Only by leveraging on the collective knowledge and experience of world-class tourism institutions can Abu Dhabi ensure that its tourism benchmarks meet the highest standards."

Upon graduation, students will be offered jobs in the tourism sector, hotels, embassies, airlines, travel agencies, airports, event management companies and museums.

"We make sure students gain at least six months of working experience during their two-year diploma in Abu Dhabi.

After that they get to study for their bachelor degree in Switzerland for another year and a half out of which they must go through another six month internship," Thara Azzam, senior marketing and public relations executive at EIC, told Notes during a tour of the campus.

EIC consists of 11 classrooms, some of which are labelled as five-star hotels, a housekeeping room; a hall called the Abu Dhabi Hall that can accommodate up to 100 students, and 15 dorm rooms that can accommodate up to 90 students. Other facilities include a restaurant, kitchen and a computer lab.

Algerian/Irish student Sara Bouguerra, 20, is currently in her second semester at EIC. She decided to switch to hotel management after spending three years in journalism school in Ireland.

"When my father decided to move here, I didn't hesitate to tag along. I have been passionate about tourism and travel since I was 18. I knew back then it's exactly what I wanted to do, and I don't regret being here," she said.

Khaled Al Nuaimi, 20, president of the Student Council, is one of three Emiratis studying at EIC. He is also in the first batch of 15 students graduating in June.

Al Nuaimi had been studying hospitality management in a university in Dubai, but transferred to Abu Dhabi.

"My family lives here, plus I want to go through a hands-on orientation at the ADTA, then go to Switzerland to gain more information about tourism. All this will help me be part of my country's growth and I see many more attractions in the hotel and tourism sector across Abu Dhabi," said Al Nuaimi.

His father's diplomatic background led Ahmad Khattri to take a degree in international affairs and politics. The Egyptian/Mauritanian, 24, currently works as a television host with MBC and is in his second semester at EIC.

"This is the first time that I have lived in an Arab country. I chose to study at EIC to meet different people and I have learnt a lot from being here," Khattri said.