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French Version

Dubai plays host to Arab version of 'The Apprentice'

Winner to land $300,000 job for a year

Plans to launch a pan-Arab version of NBC's smash-hit business television show "The Apprentice," with Dubai offering the bustling big city backdrop in a straight replacement for New York, were unveiled on Thursday. Mohammed Ali Alabbar, Emaar's chairman, will take the title role given such a high profile by U.S. real estate mogul Donald Trump.

"The Apprentice," scheduled to be broadcast weekly on LBCSat over a 15-week period from October this year, will see the winner appointed from 16 contestants to run one of the Emaar companies for a year while being paid a $300,000 salary.

Alabbar, who combines the chairmanship of Emaar with running real estate, hospitality, fashion and financial-services businesses across three continents, will have the final say on who is finally hired ... and fired from the show.

New York's dynamic 24-hour city, with its characteristic mixture of soaring towers and luxury mansions for the mega-rich, provided the perfect backdrop for the original U.S. version of the show and the aspirations of the contestants.

Now Dubai's nonstop modern cityscape is to play a similar role for the thousands of aspiring apprentices who are expected to queue up for the once in a lifetime opportunity the show will offer.

The announcement followed a novel media launch at the Burj Dubai Presentation Center attended by Sheikh Pierre al-Daher, chairman of LBCSat. "The Apprentice" format is owned by Mark Burnett and distributed by Freemantle Media.

Filming will begin in April and a region-wide audience in millions is expected to follow each episode.

Recruitment for business apprentices will take place across all Arab countries and thousands will be interviewed for this life-changing opportunity.

"This is my chance to give something back," Alabbar said. "I represent the Dubai dream and now I'm going to show young people how to turn their dreams into reality. We have been set a marvelous example here in Dubai by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who has shown dreams - even the most visionary - can be turned into reality. Everyone in business in Dubai who has been a success can be said to have been his apprentice."

"This program is not about me or even the people who are competing for the top prize. It is about creating a new dream for the Arab world, one that touches us all and that can be achieved through business. I want apprentices to be everywhere in the Arab world, learning and planning and building businesses. We also have to learn and acquire the winning habit and this program will help towards that," Alabbar said.

"The Apprentice" recreates the format owned by Burnett, but will be tailored to reflect the unique ethos of the Arab world. The biggest change sees Dubai's rich panorama replacing New York's metropolitan chic and drive as the backdrop for the action. However, the tasks the would-be apprentices are allocated could take them to any part of the region.

The program will recruit 16 of the Arab World's finest talent, youngsters who can be role models for millions of their peers.

It will screen and broadcast the would-be apprentices competing against each other in two teams of eight to carry out a set project. Like Trump, Alabbar is the final judge.

Alabbar has worked his way up from humble beginnings to become a standard bearer for Middle East business and he continues to set new benchmarks for would be business leaders. He is also the final arbiter and judges the one who each week passes the sentence that ejects a candidate from the contest and from viewers' screens.

Contestants will be assessed on their intelligence, personality, drive and street-wise smartness. They will face numerous challenges and must complete difficult assignments. They will need to show imagination and management ability to win - the very qualities Emaar looks for in its executives. - With Ameinfo.com

Beirut,01 31 2005
The Daily Star
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