The digital arena has opened up endless opportunities for our youth to take part in advancing our nation's global influence. Education and diplomacy are the winning combination, argues Dr Lamya Fawwaz
Every Emirati can be an ambassador for our country
“I am a proud UAE national” is a statement I believe many around the world hear, followed by stories of our heritage and our history, interwoven with endearing tales about our leadership. In recounting tales and conveying our pride, we feel that we have, in a small way, paid back a country that has given us so much.
Most days, our pride is met with appreciation and understanding, but on some occasions, we are met with a flicker of scepticism and a quizzical look that asks the question: why are you proud?
I believe that the single most powerful lesson instilled in us by Sheikh Zayed is our country’s tradition of inclusion. We have been taught through example that authentic human progress can only be achieved if we work together in good faith, a belief that directly underpins the country’s unprecedented progress and forms the cornerstone of our moral principles.
It is this spirit of inclusion that has led our country to secure long-standing diplomatic relations with more than 100 nations, forge strong partnerships with the world’s largest companies, become a centre of gravity for multi-industry entrepreneurship and host residents from more than 200 countries.
Carrying forward this legacy of inclusion has become a responsibility that now rests on all of our shoulders.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, recently addressed Emirati youth during the Mohammed bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations and spoke about the crucial responsibility they bear as ambassadors of our country.
He highlighted the importance of education and technology in helping young Emiratis become a positive example to the world and cultivating a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the values shared within Arab culture.
Exemplifying our values of respect, tolerance and generosity will help reflect a positive image of the UAE to the wider world.
Rapid technological advancement has opened up the realm of diplomacy to our youth and provided them with a digital arena to advance our nation’s global influence and legacy. It is important that we capitalise on these interactions to spread our message of inclusion and tolerance.
Through acting responsibly and tactfully to ensure daily interaction is fruitful, every Emirati plays a part in creating social and economic capital for our nation and enhancing mutual understanding across cultures. This would help the UAE build on its diplomatic legacy through citizen engagement.
The UAE leadership has long recognised the powerful role of education in empowering UAE nationals across all sectors, including that of diplomacy. Educational institutions, such as the Emirates Diplomatic Academy (EDA), will help ensure that Emiratis learn to leverage their unique diplomatic positions in the most conducive of ways.
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The EDA, which was established in 2014, is an important demonstration of how much the UAE values the cultivation of young diplomats as a way of strengthening the nation's global standing.
Initiatives like this offer an effective way to cultivate a generation of citizens who understand how to share information and communicate ideas effectively and diplomatically across various cultures and nations.
Both education and diplomacy are needed to help the UAE further empower its citizens and enrich its relations with other nations.
Reconciling the two in order to foster the new concept of citizen diplomacy would provide a dynamic and powerful tool for positively shaping our country, one that will allow Emiratis to carry forward Sheikh Zayed’s rich legacy with a strong and unified voice that echoes his message of inclusion, tolerance and generosity for generations to come.
Dr Lamya N Fawwaz is vice president of institutional advancement and public affairs at Masdar Institute of Science and Technology
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