Photos: Meet first doorwoman at Abu Dhabi hotel

Abu Dhabi - It’s a role Iwacu enjoys as she gets to meet many people of various nationalities.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Tue 31 Aug 2021, 8:06 PM

Whenever Grace Iwacu opens doors for hotel guests and escorts them to the reception for check-in, she feels ‘courageous’. After all, many believe it’s a job of a man.

Breaking the stereotype, Iwacu — a 24-year-old Rwandan national — has become the first woman door attendant to be appointed in the front office of an Abu Dhabi hotel. She recently started her job at Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers.

“It is amazing working at the front office as a doorwoman at this big hotel. I feel empowered as a woman since this has essentially been a male bastion in the hospitality industry,” Iwacu told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

She welcomes guests, helps them move out of their vehicles, takes care of their luggage, and then ushers them into the reception area.

It’s a role Iwacu enjoys as she gets to meet many people of various nationalities.

The expat used to work at a hotel in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, before coming to the UAE in July this year for her two-year training and employment.

She is one of the dozens of women from different African countries who were brought to the UAE in recent years by Evolvin’ Women, a social enterprise dedicated to empowerment. The group primarily works in developing countries, providing women with training and job opportunities in the UAE’s hospitality sector.

Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers was the first Abu Dhabi hotel to team up with Evolvin’ Women, entering a two-year partnership to provide development programmes to women.

The hotel hired women from Zambia, Rwanda and Ghana to work in housekeeping, F&B and the front office, with two taking on roles as door women, usually a male-dominated role.

“The culture of gender balance in every aspect of life is very important. I am confident that I will use this opportunity to acquire a lot of skills in the UAE hospitality sector, which I will take back to my country after my career here,” said Iwacu.

Her countrywoman Isabella Ndagijimana, 25, who was also recruited for housekeeping under the development programme, said she was pleased that UAE hotels were keen on providing skill development training and work placements to women in developing countries.

“I am a graduate in hospitality management. Having been offered the opportunity to work and train at this five-star hotel will help build my career for better placements, especially when I go back home,” she said.

Appointing doorwomen, instead of doormen, is a revolutionary step towards highlighting women’s potential to excel and grow in any role when given the right opportunity and support, said Assia Riccio, CEO of Evolvin’ Women.

Since 2017, Evolvin’ Women has provided roles in hotels and skill development to 55 women and they expect the number to reach 80 by the end of September this year.

“The hospitality industry gives a lot of opportunities. These women come here in the UAE for a two-year training and work career. We then help them get jobs in the hospitality sector when they go back home,” Ricco told Khaleej Times on Tuesday.

“We would like them to take the skills back to their countries, become financially independent and look after their families.”

Tarek Jarrouje, director of HR at Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers, added: “By placing women in traditionally male-dominated roles and offering them skill development training and work placements, we are highlighting the impact every company can have in driving gender equality in the hospitality industry.

More news from UAE