Viceroy Hotel Yas I
View from the other side of Yas Marina.
In the last week of October a work trip took me to Abu Dhabi. My company works with quite a few airlines and we help them select pilots, cabin crew, and ground staff. One of our airline clients is Etihad Airways, and in collaboration with them we hold a conference called Global Aviation Talent Summit once a year in Abu Dhabi. At this summit we have airline clients present on various topics around employer branding, selection, and development of their staff, so everything that has to do with finding and sourcing talent in the aviation industry. At this year’s summit I was invited to speak about the research my team and I had conducted on how to assess airline pilots and the tools and reports we had developed based on this research.
I arrived in Abu Dhabi on a Saturday night and took a taxi straight to the conference hotel. This was Viceroy Hotel on Yas Island
, a rather famous place right at the F1 race track. It was dark when we approached it, and I could see it from afar. It looked a little bit like a Durian fruit and was illuminated all in pink. The hotel consists of two wings, one on
Viceroy Hotel Yas II
View from my balcony towards the other wing of the hotel, with the F1 track and Yas Marina in the background.
each side of the F1 race track, with a bridge across the race track connecting the two wings. My room was huge and would have been in a great spot for the F1 race: My balcony faced the race track.
The next morning I checked out the best equipped hotel gym that I have ever been to before heading off to Dubai. I had arrived two days before the Summit so that the day before the event I would be able to join our Dubai team for a meeting with one of our aviation clients. In the United Arab Emirates, the weekend is on Friday and Saturday, and Sunday is a normal working day. So there I was sitting in a taxi on the way to Dubai. Getting to Dubai from Abu Dhabi only takes an hour, given that the traffic is not too bad. One can get stuck in traffic quite easily in the two cities, and unfortunately public transport is not an option. The metro train is all new and flash, however, train stations are located in such bad spots so that one would have to walk long distances in order to get from the train station
Viceroy Hotel Yas III
View from my balcony towards the grand stand of the F1 track.
to any point of interest. For example, the “Mall of the Emirates” train station is connected to the shopping mall it has its name from, but the distance between the train station and the mall is about a kilometre. The drive by car or taxi is utterly boring, there is really nothing to see except for a few sand hills covered in brushes. Fortunately I had some work to do on the taxi so that I did not get bored 😉.
The real challenge was then to get to where I wanted to meet with my team colleagues. A taxi driver from Abu Dhabi does not necessarily know their way around Dubai, and interestingly, although the taxis are usually new, they don’t have a GPS. So ultimately I used my phone with google maps and handed it over to the taxi driver. So he was driving me around Dubai with my iPhone in his hands, trying to find the way. What made things even more complicated was the fact that google maps usually does not show construction sites. And of course we ended up at a blocked road and had to drive a fair way back and find another
... at night.
route. But finally I found my colleagues, almost on time (the German was the one to be late), and we met the client. The way back to Abu Dhabi was a bit easier, but still I needed to give the driver some directions so that he would find the hotel – this time it was a taxi driver from Dubai trying to find his way around Abu Dhabi!
The next two days were super interesting. We learned a lot about what airlines do to establish their employer brand, to find and source talent, and what their issues and questions are. At the end of the second day we were invited to Etihad Airway’s Innovation Center. This is where they for example develop all the concepts they have for the interior of their aircraft. It was interesting to see what Economy, Business, and First Class look like in an Airbus aircraft as opposed to a Boeing aircraft. The clear highlight of the tour was “The Residence”, the hotel room that one can rent on Etihad Airways flights. It is like a hotel suite, with a living room and a bedroom and a bathroom with a shower. For serving food they
use finest china, and shower gels and everything else for the bathroom is exclusive designer stuff. Only the best of the best.
In the evening my colleagues John and Sarita, one of our clients, and I went out for dinner together in Yas Marina. The pier area would have been within walking distance from the hotel and it would have been a nice walk along the water. However, in the Emirates most areas are simply not designed for walking. One does not spend a lot of time outside because particularly in summer it is screaming hot. So there was no path along the water, and thus we called a taxi. It was a nice evening with very good food with the view of the beautifully illuminated Yas Marina, and it was a nice end to a great trip. I flew back home the next day.
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