With the aim to ensure Dubai becomes world’s leading tourism hub, Stella Ibiene Fubara is currently the Director International Operations, Dubai Tourism Africa. Stella has impacted the world in so many capacities, having worked with top establishments such as Deloitte & Touche, Disney World, as well as joining a vacation resort, Wyndham in 2007 among others.
Stella holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Business Management from Franklin University Columbus, Ohio and later obtained a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in Finance and International Marketing. In this interview with Mediaroomhub boss, Azuka Ogujiuba, she details what it takes to be at the forefront of Dubai Tourism Africa, joggling work with being a mother of four, what feminism means to her and lots more.
YOU’RE DOING A LOT OF STUFFS WITH AFRICAN CELEBRITIES AND SOMEHOW YOU HAVE RE-INVENTED DUBAI ON EVERYONE’S MIND. TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I actually want to talk about the beauty of my job, I have been in travel and tourism for over 20years, I started out as an accountant, then went to Disney World, Wyndham, Wakanow.com and then Dubai Tourism, but that just shows you the passion I have for the industry. The ability to have used the girls’ trip to re-invent Dubai in the minds of Africans and it’s actually the girls that did those themselves. There were six girls that went on the trip, based on the chemistry and the fact that the girls were down to earth. The girls carried their population with them with their posts on social media.
AS THE DIRECTOR OF DUBAI TOURISM, HOW IS IT LIKE TO BE SADDLED WITH RESPONSIBILITY OF ENSURING DUBAI BECOMES WORLD’S BIGGEST TOURIST DESTINATION?
It’s not that difficult because Dubai supports you in your job, they give you all the tools that you need; all they needed was someone to execute and come up with the creativity and the resources to create the awareness for Africa. It’s natural for me to be doing this in my continent Africa because I have an affinity to the culture of my country. I have same for developing resources and relationships and so it’s actually an awesome job for me. I think it’s just like a perfect fit.
THE VISION IS TO MAKE DUBAI A GLOBAL CENTER OF ATTRACTION, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY NEEDS FIXING IN THE SECTOR IN ORDER TO MAKE THE GOAL FEASIBLE?
You know what? They were on their way to making it happen; they have such a long-term vision. At any point in time, the visual strategy is 5years ahead of the current year and so they are doing everything as much as consulting markets where they wish to grow. For instance, in Africa, they are taking time to find out what Africans like to do when they travel, what they like to do in different resorts, what are the things that will make an African happy in Dubai and so they are very well on their way to make Dubai a great destination.
RECENTLY, THERE WAS A TRIP THAT SHOOK THE INDUSTRY ESPECIALLY THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY, WHAT IS THE AIM OF DUBAI GIRLS’ TRIP?
We have been trying to create awareness about traveling to Dubai for Africans and we realize that women love to travel and they are mostly the decision makers. We also discovered that women love to travel together even within their countries, so we thought how much fun would it be for a bunch of women to come to Dubai and showcase it through their eyes to the public and of course in order to do that, these women had to have some certain amount of followers on Instagram.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU ORGANIZE TRIP TO DUBAI?
Well, given the amount of awareness, mails, and response that this trip had generated, I can only say “never say never”. It will be unwise for us not to capitalize on something that has started with such a huge momentum, so, yes, I say let’s look to the future and see what we are going to do.
DO YOU HAVE PLANS OF GOING INTO THE CORPORATE SECTOR OR IS VISIT DUBAI RESTRICTED TO CELEBRITIES ONLY?
The corporate sector is a little different, it does not have so much awareness. It’s about what corporate or business activities taking place in the country and so as long as Dubai wishes to attract more business or corporate travelers, we have to do things a bit different. It is a different audience, they look at different publications, they listen to different programs, they attend different events and so we need to be able to compare the events that we have in Dubai to what corporate travelers here usually travel for and see if we can meet their needs. It is a totally different audience and a different approach in order to attract them to come to Dubai.
WHAT OTHER PACKAGE DOES THE DUBAI TOURISM HAVE FOR THE AFRICAN MARKET?
We do leisure packages just for vacation, we do business packages for the corporate travelers, we have packages for events, sports, religious (both Christians and Muslims) and also for school trips which have become a massive one for us. For every reason that you would wish to travel, there is a reason to be in Dubai. We’ve covered it all in other to make Dubai number one tourist spot in the world.
HAVING WORKED WITH QUITE A NUMBER OF TOP ESTABLISHMENTS ACROSS THE WORLD INCLUDING DISNEY WORLD, WAKANOW.COM AND WYNDHAM VACATION HOTELS AND RESORTS AMONG OTHERS, WHICH DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR MOST CHALLENGING ROLE AND WHY?
At first, I thought that was an easy question, I was going to say by far it is Dubai Tourism, but Disney World was a challenge because it was my first time leaving my educational background as an accountant to go into the entertainment, tourism and travel industry. It was really exciting because I had to learn different languages, I think Disney World was my biggest challenge and it actually set the stage for me to go into Tourism.
OBVIOUSLY, YOU’RE A VERY BUSY WOMAN, SO WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT WORKING?
Well, I love music, I do not travel without a speaker. I am also very addicted to crime shows. I used to be such an avid reader but somewhere along the line, the challenge is once I pick up a book, I have to finish it. I am heavily into historical romance and the other is crime scene novels.
AS A CAREER WOMAN, WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON FEMINISM?
I am not a feminist, at least not in the way the world defines it today. I believe that every gender has their law, I am a woman and I do not wish to be a man. I wish for a man not to treat me like a weaker sex, but the sex that needs to be taken care of more. I don’t desire to do the things that a man has to do, I don’t feel like paying bills but I will help if I have to and I will help because I want to not because I’m trying to measure up to being a man.
My advice to the young ladies is to calm down I mean, it’s ok if he holds the door open for you and how does that hurt you? It’s ok if he pays the bills, if you are taking her out on a date, yes you are going to pay the bills and did she ask you out on a date? We need to get back to what our roles truly were and quit trying to compete with men and I take this out of the career context to mean when the roles are doing different things, you compensate them differently. Now in the workplace, if both roles are doing the exact same thing then you compensate them equally, but outside like in the home, the roles are different and are supposed to be different.
WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE?
That sounds really sinful, my major guilty pleasure is avocado.
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
It’s unfortunate that in this society the stigma and the shame around rape are what forces women to keep quiet. The thought that you might be blamed for having been raped because you wore a short dress or because your bra was showing has kept women from been vocal about it. My mum is a social worker, so we ask her a lot about this issue, it’s been going on forever. Women never thought about talking about it, they never had anyone to defend them. It appears to become more rampant because people talk about it and seek help. If you are a woman out there and you are experiencing domestic violence, there are different ways to get help; you don’t need to keep quiet about it.
FOR YOU, WHO IS A COMPLETE WOMAN?
You are a content woman, I don’t believe anybody is complete. This is why we say two heads are better than one, the idea that you think of might be better or compliment the idea that I think of, so was I complete before your idea came along? Absolutely not, I don’t believe anybody is complete. No single person on this earth on their own is complete, you are content and you are happy with what you have. Today, right now my job is completing me, it makes me feel good, and tomorrow it could be my kids completing me. It is not a statement of weakness to say that you are not complete; it is a statement that puts you in the right frame of mind. If you think you are complete now, where are you going to? What else are you looking for? So don’t you dare chase another contract, don’t you dare cook another meal, don’t you dare try to improve yourself because you are already complete. You are not complete now, you are constantly striving to be a better you and so what you are or should be is content.
YOU ARE A MOTHER, A WIFE, AND A CAREER WOMAN. HOW DO YOU BALANCE THESE DIFFERENT PARTS OF YOUR LIFE?
I have awesome children, I can talk about my children till the cows come home. They are grown, they are very independent, they are very caring, very supportive and they take their roles in my life. My children are very proud of me so they do a lot to make me get to the next stage.