Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 October 2019

Nine young Emiratis to offer frank advice to UAE government

The handpicked group of 12 to 15-year-old's are among the brightest in the country

Amal Al Qubaisi, Speaker of the Federal National Council, meets some of the children appointed by the government to give advice on issues related to young people. Wam
Amal Al Qubaisi, Speaker of the Federal National Council, meets some of the children appointed by the government to give advice on issues related to young people. Wam

Nine young Emiratis appointed by the government are set to give UAE leaders straightforward advice on issues from health to bullying.

The hand-picked group of 12 to 15-year-old’s have been asked to provide candid analysis to officials about growing up in the Emirates.

The initiative is the brainchild of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and wife of Sheikh Zayed, the country’s Founding Father.

The youngsters, considered some of the brightest smartest in the country, were chosen, in part, by the Ministry of Education. “We are the key link for children all over the country to make their voice heard to decision makers,” said Salama Saif, 12, president of the young group.

In an interview with The National, the group said they were already hard at work identifying areas of concern for young Emiratis.

Last week, they visited the Federal National Council and met the speaker, Dr Amal Al Qubaisi.

Dr Al Qubaisi said the scheme was critical to ensure young people had a voice in the UAE’s continued development goals. The group’s term will end in February 2022.

“The UAE is advancing towards the future and enabling its community to participate in its plans and initiatives, which includes raising future generations to be the leaders of tomorrow,” she said.

Maryam Al Hamli, 15, from Dubai, is also part of the young advisory board.

“People should not differentiate between a child and an adult too much,” she said. “We want our voice and of all children to be heard. We would like more respect.”

“Children can see things that adults have missed,” said Wadeema Al Daramki, 14. “We can help with ideas that could develop the nation.”

The youngsters revealed that one of the biggest issues many children faced growing up was bullying.

“We each have different issues but our biggest problem in schools is bullying,” said Ghaith AlGhefli, 14.

“Some children are suffering but are too scared to speak about it. We are trying to reach these children and give them the confidence to speak up.”

“There isn’t a single school where bullying doesn’t occur,” said Maryam.

The scheme comes a month after the UAE Cabinet adopted a decision to increase and promote political participation among young Emiratis.

The Cabinet said at least one Emirati, under the age of 30, had to be added to the board of directors for any government body — though a deadline was not disclosed.

Increasing the political participation of young Emiratis has been a priority for the government for several years.

In 2016, Shamma Al Mazrui was appointed as the UAE’s first Minister of State for Youth Affairs. Ms Al Mazrui, 22, was the youngest minister in the world.

Last year, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, held the Mohamed bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations.

“We are confident in the role of the UAE’s ambitious youth, and we believe in their abilities to create the country’s present and future,” Sheikh Mohamed said at the time.

Updated: July 20, 2019 08:44 PM

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