Emiratis welcome national service plans
ABU DHABI // Emiratis gave an enthusiastic welcome to the new National Service law announced on Sunday.
Dr Albadr Al Shateri, a senior adviser and researcher for the Armed Forces, said the idea had always been encouraged by the military and should have been implemented long ago.
“We always promoted national service in the country, even if not in military schools or civil services,” he said. “This will give the youth experience, and it will help them give back to their country that has given so much to them.”
Dr Al Shateri said national service has great benefits and will allow young men to appreciate their country.
“The results are great,” he said. “The service will strengthen the identity as the groups being trained will be from all emirates. It will create socialisation of all backgrounds.”
Training, he said, will build practical expertise and promote responsibility.
“It will create individual personalities that will potentially grow to become a whole nation,” he said. “The issue of serving your land is of great value and the youth will feel it.”
Other benefits of the service, Dr Al Shateri said, will include better security measures, and armed forces teams that will defend the country from risks such as “greedy countries, the spreading of weapons, extremism, and interior security threats”.
Dr Theodore Karasik, a director at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, said the plan comes at a critical time in the region.
“The reason is because the UAE seeks to create a military force that is 100 per cent Emirati in the long term, instead of relying on other nationals from other countries that may be facing current or future problems,” he said.
The move would also help to solidify national unity within the UAE’s “unique tribal federated structure”, he added.
Qbeas Al Shehhi, 33, a government worker who received military training when he was 19, said that he had been trained in sports, weapons and how to react during emergencies.
“The training I got helped me become a better man,” he said. “I used to be careless but now I feel I have become a leader and that is what they teach you. You are taught how to be a leader, how to instruct and give criticism to others.
“They say the field produces men, and I agree. It makes you come out with a better personality.”
Mr Al Shehhi said the service would give nationals an initiative to remain faithful to the country after swearing the oath, and make them appreciate those who take care of their safety.
“They will feel how hard others work to keep them safe, and that will strengthen their love of the country,” he said.
Ayesha Al Alawi, a 23-year-old marketing graduate, said the law would strengthen the military.
“We have a lot of girls who would like to join the military, making the country proud,” she said.
“I would most definitely join. Our country will not have the need of getting military services from other countries, as well as having their own strong military.”
* With additional reporting by Caline Malek
Updated: January 19, 2014 04:00 AM