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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Wanted: new class of young diplomats to represent UAE on world stage

From Moscow to Washington, successful graduates have a bright future ahead

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Former Prime Minister of Spain, gestures during a lecture at the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi. Satish Kumar / The National
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Former Prime Minister of Spain, gestures during a lecture at the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi. Satish Kumar / The National

When a tense political stand-off is sparked, a holidaymaker suffers a tragedy or a crucial alliance must be forged, you need the best people on hand for trouble in a foreign land.

And now the Emirates Diplomatic Academy is looking for the next generation of UAE ambassadors, consuls and officers to serve at home and abroad.

The brightest 50 or so will be chosen and put through rigorous training, language classes and diplomatic scenarios to equip them for the field.

But the path is not an easy one. Recruits need strong written and spoken English and Arabic and are expected to undertake courses in French, Spanish, Chinese, Farsi or Russian.

They also need to deal with the media, show an insight into global affairs and above all, represent their country.

“The key to being a great diplomat in today’s world is being curious” said Tom Fletcher, former UK ambassador to Lebanon and an adviser to the Emirates Diplomatic Academy.

“We need individuals that are interested in world developments, that are able to look at problems from different angles and perspectives.

“Critical thinking is vital; we need those that are able to join the dots in an effective way."

Anyone seeking to serve in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation must complete the academy's nine-month post-graduate diploma in UAE Diplomacy and International Relations.

Although several classes have graduated since the academy opened in 2014, there is a growing number of positions for young Emiratis in foreign service. Visa free travel and the opening of embassies in South America recently mean more are needed.

“There is always a need to strengthen our diplomatic capabilities to cope with the increased complexity and fast pace of change around the world today," a spokesperson said.

While preparing students to critically appraise and exercise different dimensions of diplomatic practice, the course will also teach students to express themselves in formal and diplomatic Arabic and English with at least a basic understanding of a third language of their choice.

Students are presented with a selection of courses such as preparing for 21st Century Diplomacy, theory and Practice of International Relations and UAE History and Culture. Whilst also undergoing Diplomatic Protocol and Etiquette, Bilateral and Multilateral Negotiations to equip them with the essential skills needed

They must also develop an in-depth knowledge of diplomacy and international relations. That enables graduates to assess and analyse their economic, political, legal, social and geographical aspects particularly in relation to the Middle East region.

Global figures such as former United Nations Security- General Ban Ki-Moon and former Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero have lectured students on the challenges they will face in the future.

They have shared their career insights with students whilst engaging with them in discussions over diplomatic challenges and opportunities, ranging from climate action to women and youth empowerment. Other speakers and mentors include the first Lebanese person to climb Mount Everest, Maxime Chaya.

“Courage would play a vital role in their future," she told students last year.

The academy aims to “support the objectives of UAE foreign policy by delivering high impact training and disseminating research and thought leadership that furthers the understanding of diplomacy and international relations," the spokesperson said.

Once completed, a foreign posting is an option, but some are appointed to the foreign affairs ministry to serve there. Others could expect to be deployed in major embassies such as Moscow or Washington DC, or to the UN mission in New York, which lasted three months."

Graduates include Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, an ambassador at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the son of Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed, the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development.

Other graduates include Amna Al Suwaidi and Mohamad Rafeea.Obaid Al Zaabi, Sultan Al Hamrani, Mohamad Busamnoh, Amna Al Suwaidi, and Mohamad Rafeea have all participated in the United Nations General Assembly in 2016 in New York

"Emirates Diplomatic Academy aims to prepare Emiratis to serve their nation," a spokesperson said.

"Emirati diplomats have a major role to play as they carry the UAE’s success story around the world. There will continue to be a growing need for highly talented, well-rounded diplomats with multidisciplinary skills to support our nation’s increasing and active roles in the region and globally."