UAE school pupils step out for journey of discovery across country
Journey of the Union involves 28 pupils from all seven emirates, including residents for first time
Young Emiratis and residents are marching together on a journey of discovery through the land they call home.
Pupils aged between 15 and 17 are exploring the UAE's rich roots, visiting some of its most prominent landmarks and meeting royalty during a week-long trek through all seven emirates.
The Journey of the Union, which was launched in 2015 and is being held for the third time, this year involves non-Emiratis, including two from Egypt and one from Jordan.
The 28 pupils – two boys and two girls from each emirate – were chosen from 200 hopefuls to take part in the enlightening trip.
Organised by Al Bayt Mitwahid Association, a non-profit organisation run by employees of the Crown Prince Court, aims to spur on the younger generation to be leaders of the future and educate them about the history of the UAE.
“In celebration of the Year of Tolerance we’ve invited not only Emiratis but also expatriates residing in the UAE,” said Saif Al Qubaisi, chairman of the association.
“We consider everyone living in this country to be part of its future. Therefore, we have decided to expand the opportunity of Journey of the Union to be accessible to all youths.
“One of the main objectives of this initiative is to raise awareness of the progress our country has made, as well as the significance of what these landmarks represent, be it culturally or morally.
“We aim to display the history of the land in an attempt to manifest a sense of understanding about where we have come from and where we can be in the future with the achievements of this next generation.”
The journey began on Sunday when pupils explored the lush greenery of Al Ain Oasis.
The high achievers met Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, on Monday after stepping inside Abu Dhabi's Presidential Palace, Qasr Al Watan.
“It was my first time to understand how the water is extracted from the ground and used for farming and other things,” said Daen Al Mesafri, 16, from Ras Al Khaimah.
“The greenery was beautiful, and one learns how they lived before in the UAE,” said Alyazya Jamal, 15, from Umm Al Quwain.
The pupils also met Sheikh Hazza bin Tahnoon, undersecretary of the Ruler’s Representative in Al Ain Region.
“It was my first time to greet a sheikh,” Daen said. “There were also poets and speakers and artists. It was my first time to attend such an event.
“And I am looking forward to meeting Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed.”
The pupils were selected based on their academic performance, creativity, innovation and leadership skills, said Mohammed Al Mansouri, their supervisor from the Ministry of Education.
During their travels across the country, the pupils will also visit the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.
Mr Al Mansouri said the opportunity to meet influential figures in the country, such as Sheikh Mohamed, could be a source of inspiration.
“When you meet a political figure in the country you feel significant, especially when they tell you how you should be ambitious and that the officials of today, who are representing the country worldwide, were pupils one day,” he said.
The Journey of the Union will end on Saturday at Fujairah Fort.
Updated: December 17, 2019 09:26 AM