In 2001 the newly opened Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM) admitted a modest cohort of 15 students who were taught in a portacabin with Ron Hilvert as managing director.
As the academy observes its tenth anniversary next month, it has crossed the 300-student mark with Hilvert still holding the reigns.
Today students are taught in state-of-the-art facilities and the intake goal is 400 full time bachelors degree students who will pursue undergraduate or postgraduate degrees with a focus on hospitality.
EAHM is part of the luxury hospitality company, Jumeirah Group.
"We have a record intake this September — it's the highest number for full time bachelors students," Hilvert said.
He added that the college was recently accredited by the International Centre of Excellence in Tourism and Hospitality Education in Australia and the Institute of Hospitality in the United Kingdom.
It was already associated with Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne and accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research for all programmes.
"Accreditations and quality assurances have become an integral part of our institutional review process," Hilvert said.
"We have been benchmarked against top hospitality schools by independent bodies in the UK and Australia and these accreditations are a further endorsement of the exceptional work done by our faculty, our students and our colleagues."
As a result of the accreditations, EAHM is now recognised by the higher education authorities in the UAE, UK and Australia which ultimately improves graduates' job prospects.
"Looking back over the past ten years, we are the only internationally recognised hospitality college in the region," Hilvert said.
Hilvert said EAHM's student body comes from over 40 countries and it also has a department that specialises in bringing in Emirati nationals with help from the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and Tanmia.
"We try to target 10 per cent of the cohort for Emiratis but we are just under that," Hilvert said.
He added negative perceptions around hospitality were changing among Emiratis as they saw the potential for career advancement in this sector.
Hilvert said the interest from Emiratis is phenomenal and has changed dramatically in the past ten years compared to when Emirati families didn't understand the industry.
Change of perception
"The view of hospitality management has changed — it's one of the largest employers in the world and it's not the same as ten to 15 years ago," Hilvert said.
The profile of senior managers in the hospitality industry is also changing in the region.
Hilvert said historically most hospitality managers were Swiss, German or Austrian because those countries had a traditional strength in the hospitality management and culinary fields.
"But it's changing and you will see that around the world," Hilvert said.
"Switzerland was the birthplace of hospitality schools but the industry in that country has not developed.
"This college is in an exciting stage of development because there is more happening in hospitality here than in any part of the world.
"Only China is having the same growth."