Now in its 10th edition, the DSS Apprenticeship Program is an internship program created by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) to give a team of promising business and marketing students from universities across the region a chance to experience working for one of the biggest tourism marketing success stories.

As interns, the winning students learn to work with the best, execute campaign strategies, and get the opportunity to contribute their ideas and insights towards the greater success of future editions of Dubai Summer Surprises. The Apprenticeship Program offers winning students a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire corporate skills by training alongside the talented team of marketing professionals responsible for putting together Dubai Summer Surprises, one of the region’s biggest tourism events and marketing success stories of the Arab world. This experience aims to provide the students a summer they will remember forever.

The Program

The first two editions of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) in 1996 and 1997 were a tremendous success and paved the way for plans to launch an initiative of a similar magnitude, over a longer period of time, during the summer season. The aim of the new venture was to emulate the success achieved by DSF and thus the idea of DSS was conceived under the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai.

DSS was first launched in 1998 and has since, become one of the major shopping and entertainment events witnessed in the region. Consisting of numerous exciting activities that include entertainment, shopping, and raffle draws, DSS has today become the ideal family entertainment getaway during the summer months.

DSS witnessed a major shift in its strategy in 2007 where the focus of the event expanded from its then slogan, ‘Big Fun for Little Ones’, to include various age groups. The concept of 10 weeks and 10 surprises also evolved to include more surprises stretching across the entire period of the event.

In 2008, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum issued a decree to formally establish the office of DSF as a financially and administratively independent public company, solely responsible for organizing two annual international events, DSF and DSS. This decision affirms the great importance of the annual extravaganza, and the emphasis on DSF and DSS as national events that reflect the development and prosperity of Destination Dubai.

The 2010 DSS slogan, ‘Dubai, Your Summer Destination of Surprises’, reflected the intention of this celebrated summer event to provide local, regional and international families and tourists with an array of entertainment possibilities.

The Organiser

The DSS Apprenticeship Program was created in 2006 by the Dubai Shopping Festival Office (DSFO), now the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), organizers of the Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS), DFRE (www.dubaievents.ae) is an agency of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). In addition to DSS, DFRE organizes the Dubai Shopping Festival and Eid in Dubai while also managing the colourful character ‘Modhesh’ as an international brand. 


Realising the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, DFRE is tasked with promoting Dubai as a year-round destination of events and retail promotions. The Establishment’s vision is to be the driving force in promoting Dubai as a unique, global shopping and tourism destination. It has been assigned with a mandate that allows it to work closely with the retail and events sectors to create a stronger platform in this direction. 

Strategic Partnership

The DSS Apprenticeship Program is pleased to be partnered with the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, one of the world’s leading hospitality business management schools, managed by the Jumeirah Group, the global luxury hospitality company, and a member of Dubai Holding. The Academy will be housing students for their entire 2 week stay in Dubai.

The DSS Apprenticeship Program’s vision is to become the world’s leading destination-marketing internship program and to be a paradigm for short-term marketing internship programs across the world.
To fulfill this objective, on the anvil for 2014 is the addition of the three remaining countries – Yemen, Libya and Tunisia, thus completing the sweep in the program’s coverage of the whole Arab region.
With 2015 marking the DSS Apprenticeship Program’s 10th anniversary, there are plans to take the program global to include a total of 22 markets and 150 universities. This will be done through including four new markets outside the region, which are China, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.

Launched under the directive of His highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the DSS Apprenticeship Program aims to facilitate the transfer and sharing of knowledge and expertise between neighbouring countries. The program also aims to promote talent in the region and enhance the education of participating students within the fields of marketing and business administration. The program brings together the best and brightest students from across the region to participate in DSS, the first of its kind summer event in the region, whose main components and concepts are very unique and 100% locally conceived. 

The program aims to share the experience of the DFRE with other countries in the region and abroad to stimulate the global Festival Industry from a marketing perspective and contribute towards pushing its boundaries further. In addition, the program provides the new generation a chance to share new ways of thinking and fresh perspectives, which also help to enrich the DSS and develop the event accordingly. It has done so for the past 8 years and will continue to bring together the best and brightest students from across the Middle East and North Africa to participate in DSS, the first major summer tourism event conceived in the Middle East region. 

The program seeks to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and expertise among the highest caliber of university students. It aims to promote local talent and provide experiential learning to the participating students within the field of marketing and business administration.

Another objective of the program is to give students from across the world the opportunity to learn from the best and engage a new target audience for Destination Dubai, providing the entire world an opportunity to look at Dubai as a key contributor to the enhancement of students’ knowledge and skills and positioning DFRE and Dubai as leaders in destination tourism marketing, willing to share their knowledge and expertise with the rest of the world 

The program brings together the best and brightest students from across the region

In 2014, the program received a Gold accolade for “Best Educational Program” at the prestigious IFEA Pinnacle Awards. The award  underscored the highly valuable contribution the program makes to boosting the core skills and career prospects of the winning apprentices, and cemented its position as one of the most highly sought-after global destination-marketing internship opportunities.

The DSS Apprenticeship Program was one of the major factors cited by the jury that awarded the DFRE – then known as the Dubai Shopping Festival Office - the Travel & Tourism Award at the 2008 IPRA Golden World Awards, which took place in June 2008 in London.

What's New?

2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the program, which in turn, witnesses a global expansion of the apprenticeship with the inclusion of countries outside the Middle East and North Africa region.

This year’s edition will celebrate a decade of sharing ideas and nurturing talent by welcoming Russia, China, and India as the three new participating countries, which brings the total number of invited universities to a spectacular 100 across 20 countries, taking the program further than ever before.


The DSS Apprenticeship Program began as a pilot in 2006, involving four universities in two countries. Since then it has grown every year to include more countries in the region and beyond. In 2007, the program was extended to seven countries in the region. The year 2010 saw the program’s extension to include Syria and the first home country participant was included in 2009 from the United Arab Emirates. With Morocco’s inclusion in 2012, the DSS Apprenticeship Program covered a broad sweep of the Middle East and North Africa region from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean coasts. The 2013 edition of the program invited more than 80 higher education institutions across 14 countries in the MENA region to nominate their top six students to participate. The 2014 edition of the program extended the number of invitations to a spectacular 100 institutions, across 17 countries welcoming Yemen, Libya, and Tunisia for the very first time. Today, the DSS Apprenticeship Program is considered the most prestigious and sought-after destination marketing internship program in the region, and in 2015 is set to celebrate its milestone 10th anniversary edition by going global – welcoming its largest-ever group of 20 apprentices which includes winners from India, Russia and China.


The DSS Apprenticeship Program gives winners the opportunity to build valuable corporate skills and gain exposure to best practices in business administration, marketing and events management by training alongside the talented experts who are responsible for putting together DSS. The students get hands-on experience working on preparations leading up to the launch of DSS as well the chance to visit and audit key events during the festival period. The Program also presents winners with a unique and valuable opportunity to establish a great network of potential future employers and corporate mentors.


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