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Dubai hotel staff to be trained in high-end security

A guest uses an electronic card key to enter her room. Picture used for illustrative purposes only. (GETTY)

By VM Sathish

The Dubai Police Academy and Shield Security Services are conducting a specialised security awareness course for hotel staff to train them to protect hotel guests and the hospitality industry as a whole.

The programme has been endorsed by the Department of Protective Systems, Dubai Police General Headquarters as part of its overall campaign to improve security in the hotels and hotel apartments in the city.

Lee Van Blydenstein, Operations Coordinator, Shield Security Services Ltd revealed to Emirates 24|7 that the admission for a batch of 100 hotel receptionists, front office staff, safety and security personnel, restaurant and kitchen staff and waitressing staff is progressing.

“We have started the programme after last year’s high profile crime in a five star hotel in Dubai. Even though it is not mandatory for hotels, hotel managements are voluntarily coming forward to train their staff for improving safety and security. We have already trained about 1000 staff from all the major five star hotels in Dubai about the nature of threats that hotels face from terrorist and criminals, case studies of what type of attacks have taken place in the past, various criminal methods, the hotel staff relation with the Dubai Protective System and the Dubai Police and their role in preventing crime,” he said.

The short period courses rendered by Shield Security Services are accredited by City and Guild of UK, and the Security Industry Association will equip hotel staff what to look for, what, when and how to report suspicious events of incidents.

It may be recalled that on January 20, 2010, a high profile hotel guest, a Hamas leader, was found assassinated in a city hotel room, a day after he checked into the hotel.

Despite high security cameras and electronic access control systems in place, a five-member gang suspected to be from Israeli intelligence agency Mossad  carried out the murder and escaped from the country before it was noticed by the hotel staff and the Dubai Police. 

Ever since, Dubai Police was engaged in a campaign to ensure more safety in hotels and other commercial establishments in the UAE. The incident attracted worldwide media attention as the video footages of the culprits were aired by television channels across the globe.

The Dubai Police Academy Pavilion at the Intersec 2011 distributes the course details and enrolls potential students for the programme. “Throughout history, hotels and their guests have been targets of criminals. Recent years have shown that they are now also targets of choice for terrorists. Hotels are national iconic symbols and present open targets against which attacks can cause mass casualties and economic disruption to a very popular tourist destination,” an official brochure on the programme says.

“It is essential that hotels be provided with high standards of security for their premises, infrastructure, operations, staff and guests. If this is done effectively criminals and terrorists will be deterred and their attack will be minimised,” the official says quoting the document.

Attending the course is expected to improve staff morale, professionalism and teamwork, improve levels of staff awareness and understanding for effective hotel security. The hotel staff attending the programme will also learn their specific role in crime busting, especially during potential threats.

The course is also expected to upgrade the skills of existing security personnel and ensure guest safety and security, the official added.

“While physical and electronic security systems have a key role to play in any hotel security strategy, staff themselves provide the most crucial input to effective security. Not only security staff, but the personnel involved in hotels operations, waiter, receptionists, accountant, chef, manager, driver or even an electrician. The course is for new staff joining the hotels and existing staff to refresh their awareness. The course is open to not only the security staff, but even the maintenance and engineering staff, landscape gardeners, valet parking staff and even drivers. The course is approved by the Security Industry Association of the UK.