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October 8, 2008

Next Generation Excels

Atle Hansen, aged 25, from Norway and Omar Abu Omar, aged 21, from Jordan, both graduates from the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, have won a Meeting Planners International (MPI) Foundation scholarship and trip to Las Vegas to attend the World Education Congress (WEC).


Students had to write essays on the subject of ‘How to Build a MPI Community in the Middle East’.


Speaking exclusively to meetme, the two young graduates shared their ideas and plans for the future. “My 750-word essay focused on ways to spread the awareness of MPI locally as the local industry is not accustomed to professional associations and what they can contribute. My idea was to invite the local professionals to events hosted by MPI so that they can see first-hand what it is all about and learn a little more about the benefits. I also recommended local partnerships where MPI’s professional expertise is linked with local knowledge, the prime example being their association with The Emirates Academy,” said Hansen.


“My contribution was to research and work out how partnerships with local companies such as Emirates or Etihad Airways, the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and locally-based hotel groups such as the Jumeirah Group or Rotana Hotels & Resorts, as well as the Emirates Academy, can be beneficial to MPI to penetrate the local market. I also recommended working directly with directors of MICE and meeting planners in the region, as well as through sports and musical events, to give it an informal feel so that MPI can appeal to the mass market,” explained Omar.


The MPI Foundation has said that several ideas from the students will be taken into consideration as MPI begins building communities in the Gulf and it is hoped that this competition will now be an annual event.


Both students who graduated from The Emirates Academy this year have opted for mainstream hospitality as their career of choice, but are keeping options open about the meetings industry. “I have started work with the Jumeirah Group and am aware that the meetings industry is one of the most exciting niches of the tourism industry,” says Hansen.


Omar starts his career with Emaar Hospitality Group at The Address and said: “The meetings industry is a specialised sector that affects every aspect of operations in a hotel, so I have a lot to learn.”


MPI’s WEC Scholarship enabled the students to attend the World Education Congress in Las Vegas where over 4,000 meeting professionals gathered from August 8-12 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Each scholarship included conference registration fee, hotel accommodation and airfare, with a value of $2,500 USD per person.

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