Are you thinking of getting an Abu Dhabi tour guide license and want to know how to start? What to prepare for the exam? Whether it’s easy or super tricky?
In this article, I’m going to show you a step-by-step guide, and some useful downloadable resources, so you can have the proper preparation.
Disclaimer: Those are not cheat sheet for final assessments
Before we start, I just want to let you know that this post is a little bit long, so make sure you are comfortable with your time and stay in a good, comfy place to read. If you are ready, let’s dive in!
Why did I get a tourist license?
I’ve started my tour guide career in Abu Dhabi since late 2019, just about 1 month right before the coronavirus pandemic kicked in and disrupted everything, what a timing!
I know the overall market is pretty competitive right now. However, there is still a massive demand for my native language – Vietnamese. There is only ONE Vietnamese man with the Abu Dhabi tourist guide license (but, we are a total of 4 now).
My classmates are from different countries like Brazil, Japan, Italy, Korea, India, Pakistan, Russia… There were also 2 young Emirati ladies, and the instructor is from Jordan. A very diverse yet exciting environment.
I’ve been living in the UAE for about 6 years. I love the dynamic lifestyle here, a fascinating combination of traditional vibe from old buildings and national dresses to skyscrapers that Abu Dhabi has to offer.
I particularly enjoy wandering between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain to Ruwais and the Empty Quarter desert. It’s something very exotic experience that I want to share with my fellow folks coming here to visit.
I first got my license in Abu Dhabi. After a few months, I took another one from Dubai, and inshallah, I will write another “how-to” article about it somewhere in the future.
Why should you take the Abu Dhabi tour guide license course?
Even though you got a Dubai license from DTCM or are new to the market and start getting your first license, the training course is very beneficial as you will learn a comprehensive knowledge about Abu Dhabi and the UAE in general.
You will study with a book of over 600+ pages with every important detail from history, the UAE’s milestones, the Al Nahyan family, how the government system works,…
And some of the other factors that I personally enjoy and will share later in this post. Please hang in there!
The course overview
The tourist guide training and licensing course is provided by DCT (stand for Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi), people used to call TCA (which was formerly called Tourism and Culture Authority).
The training will be conducted at European International College (EIC), near Al Wahda mall and Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.
There are about 4 courses every 2 -3 months throughout a year. Each course is 8 days training + 2 days interview and test + 2 days for final assessment. Make sure you visit their website to have an up-to-date tour guide training plan.
The license has 1-year validity with a renewal feeof 500dhs.
- Interview: AED 200
- Knowledge assessment: AED 800
- History & culture of Abu Dhabi: AED 350
- Abu Dhabi Sites & Attractions: AED 350
- Practical training: AED 2100
- Final assessment: AED 1700
Total tour guide license fees: AED 5500
These fees are not refundable, it’s free for Emirati and doesn’t include the First Aid certificate and Police clearance certificate fee that I will explain further below. And you can pay separately and not at once.
You can view the infographic that I made below, save it to your phone, or keep reading to understand.
First, create your account at https://industrydevelopment.dct.gov.ae/ to apply
This account will be very essential to you in the long term, so make sure you keep it safe.
Documents to apply/upload
- Scanned passport ID page
- Passport size photo with white background
- Your CV
- Residency visa copy
- Police clearance certificate
- Emirates ID (back and front side)
- Current tourist guide license or certificate (if any)
- First aid certificate
Some of my classmates didn’t send all the docs (e.g., first-aid certificate), and it was fine, as long as you upload it before you receive your license.
I got my police clearance from the MOI app (ministry of interior). I paid 50dhs for it, the app was very straightforward and easy to do (just wait for a few days to receive the certificate). Register an account and apply, if there is a typo when you receive it, simply chat with customer service and ask where can you fix it.
That’s what happened to me, and I had to visit an MOI branch (I think) to fix it, or you can just simply apply for a new one.
First-aid certificate, how did I got it?
By the way, if you are a licensed guide in Dubai you can use that certificate to this course without taking and paying an extra cost. Or you can just take a basic first-aid course.
I googled around and found a training institute, it took about 2 -3 hours of training and I got my certificate after taking a test the same day, which costs 350dhs.
Make sure you apply before the tour guide course takes place and has available seats. After you apply, they will send an email to invite you to an interview day and make a payment of 200dhs for this.
It’s a day that you will be introduced to everything you need to know about the training course, Q&A (prepare yourself some questions) and get the 600+ pages material book.
It took about 1,5 hours for me, and everyone got to take a photo for the license, yass!
There will be a knowledge assessment of 60 multiple choice questions (a few fill the blank questions). Every question comes from that study book (Portfolio 1), you will have a lot of time and try to study even little things about Abu Dhabi.
*whisper* surprisingly, even this test and the final assessment there was barely a question about Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (which is easy for most of us I guess)
Your result will be given right away after taking that test, and if you pass, you will register to do the course, if you fail, the next test will be after 2,3 months. Free of charge!
When it comes to the main training, it was a lot of fun, knowledge about Abu Dhabi, activities, even acting.
You learn how to present like a real tour guide, practice with your voice.
In 2nd week, you go out for a bus tour training every day, there will be a real tour guide comes to teach you how to talk then you have to do it on your own… That’s why I said it was so intense yet amazing training.
The final assessment of Abu Dhabi tour guide license course:
There would be 2 types of assessment: (in-class) presentation (about 5-10 minutes in total) and moving (bus) tour practical (3-5 minutes talk).
The presentation will be divided into a prepared topic and unprepared topics, together with a scenario question.
Thankfully you will be given all the topics to prepare right when you just started the course so there will be enough time.
In the bus exam, you will be called randomly and talk about what you see on the road to pretending-tourists.
Wanna know secrets on how to pass?
That is: make sure when you receive the heavy material book, study it right away! It’s a very NOT-BORING book, I promise, take a lot of notes in the class.
Once you have your assessment topics (there will be many topics and overwhelming), study 3 -4 topics a day.
I didn’t like the golf courses, some archeological sites are hard to remember, Islam is also a tough topic for me, etc. When there is something like this to you, try to spend extra effort to learn about it. I got one of the topics I didn’t like, so I didn’t study very well and failed.
And hey! Those topics can be good material for your next assessment, which is the bus exam, you will need to talk about something.
About the bus tour, try to imagine like you are taking a friend or family member visiting Abu Dhabi for the first time (it worked for me at least).
Even if you do or don’t live in Abu Dhabi, try to go the same route you had in training (it’s the same route in the assessment) to familiarize them and try to talk.
Lucky for me, I know the road by heart, but I still need to note down how many minutes from point A to point B, which places usually a new turn will be called, try to do some dry talk when there is nothing around to say. When you are passing by an attraction, try to capture and talk about it immediately.
In general, be confident, relax! YOU CAN DO IT!
Some of the colleagues keep worrying about what if they fail? Well.
If you fail any test, you can do it for free in the next course, 2 assessments are evaluated separately, so you only re-test the one you failed.
If you are still confused about any step, please leave me a comment below or contact me/Whatsapp me.
My favorite things about this course
First, I like the fact that we come from many different backgrounds and countries, even though we’re just 20+ people. Some are already well-experienced tour guides from Dubai or Sharjah, many are new just like me.
Some even moms have a family with kids and now wanna start working again, some wanna change career (I’m one of them, HAHAHA)
It’s kind of cool to have some Emirati classmates, even one from Liwa, I asked a lot of questions about the local culture, why this and how is that, etc.
I can’t recommend enough to the chef and the food we have every day. The training institute with a cooking class got food from a passionate chef (I think he is French), who is also a cooking class instructor.
Fantastic meals, we tried different cuisines almost every day and sat next to a huge kitchen.
Our instructor is even though not an Emirati, but very knowledgeable, and I feel she knows all the answers. I can’t forget the reception man from Nigeria (forgive me for forgetting their names). He is so friendly and helpful in providing us class material every day.
What could have been better
There are a few honestly, I wish that the training could be every month because when you fail at any stage in any exam, you need to wait for the next course with a new batch just to do your test again. Or I wish there will be a more convenient way to re-test in a short time.
Some people wanna do the tours immediately, but unfortunately, you just sit at home and wait in 2-3 months.
Some of us wanted a career change and entirely new for this, I, for example, kind of lost about don’t know what to do after getting the license.
How should I contact the companies? What are steps I need to do when working with tour operators (to be on the safe side), what I need to be careful when guiding,…
Yes, a little too much to request, but if there is a small section that I can get trained about this would be very helpful.
You got your license, now what?
Yes, if you are a totally new guide just like me, what’s the next plan after getting your Abu Dhabi tour guide license? Keeping in touch with training mates would be a helpful step. (Have a WhatApp group for example).
If you wish to join a community of over 400+ tour guides in UAE, feel free to join our telegram group.
One of the advice I got was to start contacting companies you know by sending them an email and visiting them in person. Google around to find contacts.
Making a business card could be helpful too and include some basic info about you: languages you guide, where to leave a review, phone numbers…
A little more advance is to create a portfolio/blog about yourself, just like I do, so that you can increase your visibility online to companies. You can even show how helpful you are by writing a lot of guiding articles (be a virtual online guide too!)
You remember the 600+ heavy book I mentioned in this article earlier? There is an ebook version, so keep it in your phone. He will be a handy assistant when you search for information.
What else? Maybe it’s your turn to suggest to me because it’s me, the new guide here! wink
Phew! How lengthy!
But I hope I was a little help with this, I pretty much covered almost everything. If I don’t, please leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions so that I can update this “how to get Abu Dhabi tour guide license” post.
Good luck! And welcome to the Tour Biz!