Have you wondered about the lives of these glamorous girls?

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Have you wondered about the lives of these glamorous girls?
Mya Ycaza

Dubai - You've seen them at GITEX, and other trade shows. Models and sales promoters are on their feet all day, making quick - but hardly easy - money for temporary jobs

By Sarwat Nasir

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Published: Fri 10 Mar 2017, 6:25 PM

Last updated: Fri 10 Mar 2017, 8:30 PM

You would imagine that models and promoters for major brands in Dubai would be living the laidback and luxurious life this city is known for.
However, the reality seems different. Two women who work as models and promoters in Dubai spoke to us about their long work days, and how, sometimes, the job requires them to be standing in high heels for more than 10 hours at a stretch.
The modelling and promotions industry in Dubai is big - earning many western promoters more than Dh10,000 per month. Though, as Khaleej Times previously reported, South Asian nationalities have been miffed about being paid much less as compared to their western counterparts. Case in point, Mya Ycaza from Venezuela and Sundus Nasir from Pakistan who shared with me their daily ups-and-downs, occupational hazards, as it were.
Sarwat, when she's not reporting, plays the piano. On weekends, she's at karaoke
Can be casual, can't chew gum
Mya Ycaza spent nearly two hours dressing and applying makeup last week, but the preparations weren't for a wedding or a party, it's part of her job in the promotions and modelling industry.
The 29-year-old Venezuelan, who earns Dh100 per hour depending on the job, said that she sometimes gets tired of wearing high heels all day long. But her profession requires her to look good and be well turned out.
Ycaza works as a hostess and a model for special events and exhibitions, as well as a promoter. She's been in the industry for 10 years and in Dubai for four. She gets hired by agencies who represent clients, and want promoters such as Ycaza to be the face of their product at these events.
She said, "In one event, for example, I worked for five hours. Of course, it's tiring. I was standing for most of the time and walking around in the conference". But that is the nature of the job. She says, "You have to show guests in and walk each one of them to their seats. By the time you finish, you just want to put your flats on, go home and rest your feet."
In many jobs, it's the agency that decides what she has to wear. Depending on the client and the job, she can either wear flats or high heels. "Some clients want the hostess or promoter to wear a t-shirt logo, so we dress casual, but it still has to be matching trousers and shoes. But even if the dress code is casual, we have to be attentive and have very good manners. One very important thing is not to chew gum or wear lots of bracelets, just a simple watch will work well," she said.                        
Her job also requires her to arrive a few minutes early so that she can get a quick briefing for the day. Ycaza takes public transport so she leaves early to get to her work on time. She wants to continue with this career as it earns her "good money", but feels that rates for models and hostesses are being lowered by agencies because of the competitiveness in the field.
Quick money, but only for now
Sundus Nasir works the same number of hours as Ycaza in her role as a promoter. But she gets paid Dh45 per hour, as compared to Ycaza's Dh100 per hour. What's her routine? The Pakistani national works for 12 hours at a time, doing promotional jobs four times a week.
"Not only do we work from 11am to 11pm, we need to show up an hour earlier for briefing on the new sales strategy and promotions," she said. Nasir is required to arrive half-an-hour early at her job. However, in promotions or hostess jobs, where people from other nationalities work, they can arrive 15 minutes earlier, according to Ycaza. 
Like Ycaza, Nasir also takes public transport. But she has to leave much earlier to arrive an hour before her job actually begins - thus taking up more time from her day.
"Working for four-to-eight days and being able to earn a whole month's salary in that time is great, but the hours we models and promoters put in for that is a little extreme". Work-life balance is tough to maintain for promoters and models. Like she said, "To have your professional life on hold and use up a whole month's work energy in just a week... it isn't satisfying".
What about the unwanted attention? While UAE is a safe place in that regard, "Women feel objectified at times throughout the hiring process where requirements are stereotyped for 'beautiful and attractive women'. Race plays a part in this as well," Nasir said.
Luckily for her, she is not required to wear heels to many of her assignments. But she still has to remain standing for most hours to promote products and engage customers, giving them the sales pitch.
So is this a permanent gig? For now, Nasir feels the "quick money" helps financially, but she wants to eventually give it up to pursue a career with "normal" working hours and a fixed salary.

Sundus Nasir
Sundus Nasir

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