x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 November 2017

UAE's youth hope to change world's 'tainted' image of Arabs

Three young people attending an event in Dubai hold the media accountable for parts of the world having a negative view of Arabs and Muslims

Young people attend the International Youth Day Celebration at the Intercontinental Hotel in Festival City. Antonie Robertson / The National
Young people attend the International Youth Day Celebration at the Intercontinental Hotel in Festival City. Antonie Robertson / The National

On International Youth Day, three young people attending an event in Dubai share their thoughts on opportunities for the youth in the UAE and their responsibility to represent an accurate image the UAE to the world.

Hamad Al Majid. Antonie Robertson / The National
Hamad Al Majid. Antonie Robertson / The National

Hamad Al Majid, a 23-year-old business student at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Dubai:

"What our country is looking for is how to present itself to the people abroad, how to present Arabs in general and the UAE to the people outside. Maybe some people have wrong ideas about Arabs in general, but here in the UAE, we want to fix that. We already know the meaning of Islam and the meaning of being Arab so what we are trying to do in the UAE is to present ourselves to outside countries.

Through projects such as Expo 2020 and Irena, we allow people to come to our country and give them opportunities. Our country has become a gathering hub for other nations with so many nationalities that live in peace and there is no difference between people - it’s a place of opportunities which it turns into reality.

We want to show people outside that it's all happening here. We’re trying to show that this bad image they have is not true and that they should come to the UAE and see how our culture is different.

I am currently looking for a job in Emirates Airline because it’s a great place to work with different cultures and nationalities and it’s a good starting point to present yourself to the world and show our right image to the world."

Atheer bin Shakar. Antonie Robertson / The National
Atheer bin Shakar. Antonie Robertson / The National

Atheer bin Shakar, a 28-year-old media presenter and producer in Al Oula radio station, which is owned by the Crown Prince of Dubai:

"Some media love to add drama and spice and they are having a field day with the image that has been portrayed of Arabs after the Arab Spring around the world. But you do have amazing examples of Arabs, be it from any country, of all ages and genders, coming from very different backgrounds and they are proving some media wrong, mainly those that paint what they think the majority is.

I think we should live by those examples of not just the Arab world but the Muslim world too. Being an Emirati and living here, we've had amazing opportunities since birth and I think that also applies, not only to Emirati nationals, but also to those who were born and raised here. We are open, peaceful and we are well aware of what's happening and we’re still very young as a country so all the opportunities are not just new for us as youth but for the country itself."

Mohammad Jaroor attends the International Youth Day Celebration in Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National
Mohammad Jaroor attends the International Youth Day Celebration in Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National

Mohammad Jaroor, a 23-year-old filmmaker at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Dubai:

"If we go 10 years back until today, the UAE has really progressed because of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s amazing vision. Everyone around the world speaks about it and what he wants to achieve. He speaks about himself and his community as number one. Other countries wish to replicate the UAE’s model and its youth, our thinking, talent and forward way of doing things.

Some people in the west might not like Arabs because of this tainted image that’s developed over time since the Arab Spring, although the UAE is not a part of it. But others do like the Gulf, Emiratis and the region. I think through my films I could potentially help contribute to changing that image.

Films have a lot of impact and anyone in the UAE can make send some kind of message to change attitudes around the world. I can speak about my country, my culture, my region and my history through small films and, nowadays, we can send any message through any visual means thanks to social media or any other platform.

Many young Emiratis can adopt this new way of communicating through technology in any field they work in and send the right message of the region because that’s who we are and our true nature can be shown in that sense."