Sky News Arabia on drive for young Emirati talent

Ben Flanagan

Sky News Arabia has introduced a training scheme that it hopes will boost the number of Emirati employees at its Abu Dhabi studio.

The Arabic-language television station, which is expected to go on air in the spring, says media have not traditionally been a popular profession among UAE nationals.

This week, the channel began a programme aimed at encouraging more Emiratis to join its staff, which is expected to number 370 at full strength.

"The media profession hasn't traditionally been one of the most attractive careers for young Emirati professionals to pursue," said Adrian Wells, the launch director of Sky News Arabia. "It's much more likely that they would have been attracted into business, or maybe PR, or certainly engineering."

The eight-day course, which is under way at Dubai Women's College, will be staged annually, Mr Wells said.

The scheme is geared towards young graduates, and involves training in journalism and the technical aspects of television news.

Ten to 14 students are taking part in the first course, and some will have the chance to undertake a longer internship or start permanent employment at the station, Mr Wells said.

"We're hoping that we can play our part in encouraging the very best of young UAE-national talent to consider a career in the media," he said.

Mr Wells declined to specify how many full-time Emirati employees the station took on during a recent recruitment drive.

He said the station did not have specific quotas for Emirati employees, unlike in some other business sectors. The motivation for encouraging more Emirati employees was partly practical, according to Mr Wells.

"It's far better for us as a big employer to be able to have on tap local talent that's already here," he said.

Sky News Arabia is a joint venture with the UK media company BSkyB and the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation.