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UAE women explore uncharted territory as first seafaring graduates

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Three Emirati women have graduated as masters of 24-metre coastal vessels from the Maritime Training Centre at Abu Dhabi Ports in the United Arab Emirates.

Sahar Rasti, Fatema Al Khaja and Mahra Al Shamsi are the first three women in the country to achieve this qualification, and were conferred with their certificates of competency at a ceremony with 10 other students.

The course was offered as a joint initiative between the Australian Maritime College and Abu Dhabi Ports in order to meet the demand in the UAE for high-quality seafarer training.

Abu Dhabi Ports CEO Juma Shamisi said: “The UAE possesses immense national talent and we at Abu Dhabi Ports are eager to extend every opportunity to our young women and men to develop their capabilities and fulfil their potential.

“That these young women have graduated through this intensive course sets an example for future generations and shines a light on the career opportunities available in the maritime industry.”

The collaboration with Abu Dhabi Ports marks the first time AMC has exported its vocational training overseas, as well as the first time a coastal seafaring qualification has been offered in the UAE.

AMC trainers Jarrod Weaving and Phill Lenthall have delivered two courses to date in Abu Dhabi – the Master up to 24-metre Near Coastal and Master up to 35-metre Near Coastal courses. The students completed the first course in December 2016 before undertaking the necessary sea time and graduating in August 2017.

The Master up to 35-metre Near Coastal course was delivered in July 2017. The students are expected to graduate in May 2018 following the completion of their sea time and oral exams.

AMC Vocational and Education Training Manager Anthony Beckett said the successful delivery of the two courses was a testament to the professionalism and adaptability of his team in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Ports maritime training department.

Although most of the staff had experience teaching students from culturally diverse backgrounds with English as a second or additional language, it was the first time they had taught in-country with Arabic as the predominant language.

“The team took part in an intensive session on cultural awareness while working in the UAE, but this only somewhat prepared them for the adaptations that would need to be made,” Mr Beckett said.

“Working in temperatures of 40+ degrees Celsius meant a rethink of when practical activities could be undertaken. We also needed to consider the working environment of the port and when the operational fleet was available for training.

“In the classroom, we found traditional reading materials were not effective teaching tools. Instead, we placed a greater emphasis on shapes, symbols, pictures and drawings and used the whiteboard with less reliance on electronic presentations.”

Published on: 12 Dec 2017