x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Drive to teach Emiratis to 'spend wisely'

The programme was created by the Emirates Foundation in cooperation with Operation Hope, an economic empowerment charity from the US that describes its mission as "creating financial dignity".

With more than 70 per cent of Emiratis under the age of 30 believed to be in debt, the programme will examine the benefits of saving. Silvia Razgova / The National
With more than 70 per cent of Emiratis under the age of 30 believed to be in debt, the programme will examine the benefits of saving. Silvia Razgova / The National

ABU DHABI // Emirati students will be taught the ABCs of financial literacy through a federal university programme beginning in October.

The programme was created by the Emirates Foundation in cooperation with Operation Hope, an economic empowerment charity from the US that describes its mission as "creating financial dignity".

More than 70 per cent of Emiratis under the age of 30 are believed to be in debt.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurari, a member of the Emirates Foundation board, chief executive of the Mashreq Group and head of the UAE Banks Federation, said in May that financial literacy among young Emiratis is not on par with international standards of the same age.

The foundation launched a project aimed at addressing this problem in May, Isrif Sah, which - as the Arabic names suggests - teaches young Emiratis to "spend wisely".

The 4.5-hour course developed with Operation Hope forms part of the Isrif Sah programme. It will develop the financial savvy of young Emiratis by teaching them about spending behaviour, saving and budget planning, taking into account their current lifestyle.

To maximise its effectiveness, students will be trained by teachers and role models to teach other students about what they have learnt. "Our ambition is to get Isrif Sah to an advanced level whereby students in their final year will be able to teach new students," said Dr Sabha Al Shamsi, Emirates Foundation's director of social inclusion.

"It will be a student-based programme serving the interest of the students themselves." The curriculum will also include lessons about the risks of cumulative debts, a problem for a growing number of young Emiratis.

Research conducted earlier this year at the University of Dubai found only about 30 per cent of young Emiratis saved regularly.

"Ultimately we are creating a positive and systemic change to the global community," said Mary Hagerty Ehrsam, chief executive of Operation Hope.

"It is all part of Operation Hope's mission to educate and empower people worldwide."

mswan@thenational.ae