A bright future in ecotourism starts in Greenwich
Saudi Arabian alumnus Anass Alshammary talks about his career at university and beyond
Anass Alshammary (left) with University of Greenwich lecturer, Simon Dye
What made you choose the University of Greenwich?
The University of Greenwich is highly regarded in Saudi Arabia and its degrees are recognised worldwide.
There is no country in the world where higher education is more advanced than the UK. The quality of education, level of support from staff, library access, student union activity, and commitment to internationalism is second to none.
I have had exposure to so many people from all over the world while studying at Greenwich, and made so many friends.
Photo credit: Burnfoot Holiday Cottages, Morpeth, Northumberland
Anass is documenting the beauty of Northumbria which showcases his skills as a tourism manager Photo credit
What did your degree in Tourism Management give you?
Studying for a degree at Greenwich has helped me with my life. It has developed my intellectual ability to learn, and my vision for the future.
My final year thesis investigated the financial crisis and its impact on travel to Dubai and Europe. I developed dialogue and problem-solving skills, such as finding policy solutions to financial and environmental challenges. It gave me the confidence to speak on environmental issues on National Geographic Abu Dhabi for instance.
Falcon in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Photo Credit.
What preparation did you need in order to study in the UK?
I was fortunate to gain a place on the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The late King Abdullah was committed to developing human resources and today tens of thousands of citizens have benefited by studying in the world’s best universities.
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Photo credit.
What is ecotourism?
Ecotourism opens up the natural world to visitors in a way that protects the environment.
Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and it needs to work with local people to sustain economies and habitats.
I would love to see people from my part of the world visit wildlife destinations in Europe where they can see deer, horses and birds. And vice versa: Saudi Arabia has the most dramatic desert landscapes and ancient history and there is definitely potential to increase ecotourism.
And you have had some fascinating jobs since then?
Yes! A Saudi prince asked me to purchase and transport some falcons for him. Falcon hunting is an old sport across the world and popular in Saudi Arabia. UNESCO recently recognised it as part of humanity’s “intangible cultural heritage”. There is an international agreement not to take falcons from the wild so it was important for me to source the falcons from a breeding farm and meet all the international requirements.
I have also worked for a company supplying medical equipment which involved communicating between international companies. Having several languages such as English and French is a huge bonus in business. I have also worked as an interpreter.
And advice for other international students?
The University of Greenwich is a global university for education, science and the arts, a multicultural and an international university. It’s based in London which only adds to its influence. I am proud and honoured to have studied in the UK.
Being an alumnus of the University of Greenwich is a great privilege and I would certainly recommend it to future students.