Emirati students at the Mubadala Youth Forum were encouraged to travel and live abroad 'to challenge themselves and become international citizens'.
Become world citizens by gaining international experience, UAE youths told
The annual event, now in its third year, set out to motivate students to gain international experience under the theme “Our Future, Your Ambition”.
“Emiratis have to challenge themselves and become international citizens,” said Dr Aisha Bilkhair, director of research and knowledge services at the National Centre for Documentation and Research.
“When abroad you acquire knowledge which you can apply anywhere in the world, which gives you a world of opportunities.”
Saud Al Nowais, commercial attache at the UAE Embassy in Washington DC, said that having a broader perspective had to be applied overseas as well.
“I had an Emirati friend in the States who would spend all his free time with the same guys he hung out with in Abu Dhabi.
“I told him it’s good to stay connected but make the most of this opportunity by learning from different nationalities and teach them about the UAE.”
Spreading awareness about the UAE was one of the key benefits of living and working abroad for Reem Al Zaabi who spent two years in Dresden, Germany as a process engineer at a semiconductor manufacturing company.
“When I first got there people were asking me if I was from Saudi Arabia and had never heard of the UAE,” she told the forum at the St Regis Hotel on Saadiyat Island.
“Towards the end of my stay when I carried around the UAE flag on National Day not only did people know the country but what the flag’s colours stood for.”
Ms Al Zaabi said that the decision to leave the UAE was not easy but was the best choice she had made and is thinking of leaving again.
“It was very hard to leave the family and adjust to the cold weather in a country where the language barrier made it hard to even tell the doctor the symptoms I had when I was sick.
“But after receiving top quality training in my field, and feeling I am a pioneer for my country I’m thinking of doing one more year in Dresden, which I feel now is my second home.”
Abdullah Al Mutwah was another Emirati to work on an international scale.
As a journalist working for Al Arabiya TV, he was one of the first UAE nationals to work on regional political affairs while covering international events such as the war in Iraq and conflicts in Darfur and Chad.
“Many people asked why I would leave UAE media and discouraged me in joining an international organisation, but I always kept my eye on international events and knew I had something to contribute,” he said.
One of the hundreds of students in attendance, Omar Saeed Al Yaqobi, 24, said that unlike his friends, he rushed from his classes at the Petroleum Institute to take part in the Youth Forum.
“I want to advance my career and today inspired me even more to pursue a career abroad.”
After initial concerns that his choices would be limited by not receiving a degree from abroad, Mr Yaqobi was assured by the success of some of the speakers who graduated from UAE establishments.
“Looking at the example of Reem Al Zaabi and Abdullah Al Mutwah who both have incredible careers after studying in the Emirates I feel encouraged to chase my dream of experiencing work abroad.”
Dr Bilkhair said that having such mentors who are within your reach was key in advancing ones career.
“Many people look to Donald Trump as an idol but people have perfect role models right next to them which they can go to on a regular basis.”
She said that having passion and love for your career as well as your country will better ensure a persons chances for success.
“We want students to challenge themselves and get outside their comfort zones. To make a statement, to be the first you have to be motivated and determined to push your boundaries,” she said.