Dubai: The Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), along with organisers of Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS), have announced the names of 17 students from across the Middle East and North Africa who have been selected to participate in the DSS Apprenticeship Programme 2014.
Ali Al Farsi from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) will represent the Sultanate of Oman in the 9th edition of one of the most sought after destination marketing internships and a highly prestigious component of the world-class DSS festival.
This year, the programme has been enlarged, welcoming its largest-ever group of apprentices from 17 countries, including the UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria and first-time participants, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia.
Laila Suhail, CEO of DFRE, said: "The ways in which the audience connects with a brand are fast-evolving – a fact that Ali Al Farsi from Sultan Qaboos University emphasized in his essay, with his idea of launching an e-portal to serve as an electronic communication system between the organisers of DSS and the target audience. We are delighted to welcome this enthusiastic and creative apprentice and look forward to his insightful suggestions to take the DSS festival into its next phase of development and growth."
Winners will each receive an all-expense-paid trip to Dubai, including return flights and a two-week stay at The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM), which has been a strategic partner in the program for the last three years. EAHM is one of the world's leading hospitality business management schools and part of Jumeirah Group, a luxury hotel company and a member of Dubai Holding.
Throughout their stay, students will attend workshops, visit key DSS events and tourism landmarks, and meet leading players behind the Destination Dubai brand.
Winners' itineraries in the past have included meetings with leading Dubai-based companies that have helped build the city's world-class tourism sites and renowned global brand, such as Emirates, Emaar Retail, MBC Group, Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Economic Department and Dubai Cares. This year's winners will participate in a similar agenda of key meetings.
Many of the interns, who will be on their first trip to Dubai, will also have the opportunity to visit some of the city's iconic tourism landmarks, including Burj Khalifa, Dubai Metro, Ski Dubai, Wild Wadi and other locations.
The selection process this year began with each participating university nominating its top six senior students studying marketing, business administration, travel and tourism, event management and finance streams.
Each student was asked to submit an essay on a topic chosen by the DSS Apprenticeship Program team. This year's topic was: "What would you do differently for DSS 2014, in terms of promoting and positioning this event for your local market if you were assigned the position of Chief Marketing Officer for DSS?" A special jury, comprising key DFRE executives and other marketing professionals, evaluated the final submissions before shortlisting a winner from each country.
In his winning essay, Ali Al-Farsi said: "I would promote DSS in Oman by creating an e-portal labeled 'Welcome to DSS'. This portal would be an electronic communication system that links all marketing activities of DSS using several online programs. It would be designed as the main gateway of electronic services offered by DSS to provide rich, personalized and highly customizable information to all its users. This e-portal would include e-services, such as live chat options with DSS agents, allowing the users to obtain instant answers on DSS-related inquiries. This strategy would further enhance and uplift DSS as an advanced and innovative brand."
The internship will offer students the tools and resources they need to gain hands-on experience that will not only improve their theoretical understanding of their chosen field of study, but also its practical applications, as they build a valuable network of potential future employers and corporate mentors.