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Debrah Dhugga, MD of DUKES LONDON, calls for empowerment of Women in Hospitality Industry


Industry expert highlights career opportunities for women in travel & tourism during inspirational speech

At the Arabian Travel Market held on 25th April 2016, Debrah Dhugga, Managing Director of DUKES LONDON and the soon-to-open DUKES DUBAI, passionately promoted prospects and opportunities for women in the hospitality industry during the event’s first ever panel session dedicated to women. During the discussion, entitled ‘Women in Travel: Opportunities and Trends in the Middle East’, the female MD, who is also a respected career mentor, said there are fantastic prospects for women in the industry but that more could be done to attract good candidates. 

“There are lots of opportunities for women in business in the UAE and women shouldn't be afraid to put themselves forward for an opportunity,” she said. “There is also so much more that could be done to attract career minded women.”

“Women are hard workers and dedicated, however, within the travel and tourism sector specifically, it can be very challenging to carve out a career, motherhood and a partnership due to its 24/7 nature, but there are opportunities for flexible ways of working that would suit women with children, for instance.”

The mother of two went on to share her own experience of starting out as a hotel trainee manager.

“When I first took a board position I remember walking into the room and there were nine men sitting around the table,” she said. “All that was running through my mind was whether I should be wearing trousers rather than a skirt. I soon realised this didn’t matter at all.

As long as you are in control of what you are doing, you believe in yourself and ask questions along the way then you are likely to succeed.  I truly believe a mix of genders builds a better business. Men and women have different strengths pull them together and look at the results.”

On tackling the issue of balancing family life with a career she had the following advice. “As a mother, you need to be prepared to make sacrifices,” she said. “I have a son and a daughter who are now grown up and young professionals – but when they were younger, I paid more in childcare than I was earning - you have to weigh up what the overall, long-term benefits are for the family.”

“I did make sacrifices as I travelled a lot, but I wouldn’t change my career path and I am sure my daughter will now follow in my footsteps,” she said. “Being organised is an absolute   priority. I always had two lists on the go – a working day list and a family list. It’s also important to be honest with your employer about corporate social and weekend expectations, if you decide to commit to a full-time role.” 

Currently, Debrah Dhugga is working on the launch of DUKES DUBAI on Palm Jumeirah, which has a mixed gender executive team.

“I prefer having a mixed executive team as it provides a more creative dynamic, but we would like more female F&B applicants – we rarely get CVs from female chefs, for example, even though that trend is positive in the UK and the US.”

Owned by Dubai-based luxury property developer and holding company Seven Tides International, DUKES DUBAI is the first international property for the DUKES Collection brand. Located on the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah, DUKES DUBAI will add a distinctly British flavour to the city’s luxury hospitality offering. The property features 279 guestrooms and 227 hotel apartments and will offer world-class leisure, conference and entertainment facilities including a private beach and infinity pool.

A key part of the new Dubai hotel will be the Duchess Floor, which will cater solely to women and be staffed by an all-female team. Rooms will boast increased security, fluffy bathrobes, premium toiletries, fresh flowers and glossy magazines – added extras based on demands identified through DUKES’ consumer research.  

Nightly rates in a DUKES room at DUKES LONDON start from £311 inclusive of VAT and breakfast, with complimentary upgrade to next room category.

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