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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Young Emiratis urged to persevere when it comes to their futures 

Reem Al Hashimy spoke to hundreds of students at the celebration of International Youth Day in Dubai 

Reem Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, speaks at the International Youth Day Celebration in Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National
Reem Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, speaks at the International Youth Day Celebration in Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National

Young Emiratis have been urged not to give up and show perseverance when it comes to their education and their future.

Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation, delivered the message to hundreds of students on Wednesday at the celebration of International Youth Day in Dubai, where she also shared her experience of being rejected from a top university.

“I had the honour of studying at Harvard University, but I was not accepted from the first time. My mother convinced me to apply again and I was accepted the second time around,” Ms Al Hashimy, who also manages Dubai’s Expo 2020, said.

“If there is any message that I want you to hold onto today, it’s the importance of perseverance and coping with pressure.”

Her message to young Emiratis was to “always focus on the value you can add to your country because this country is a very precious and special one.”

“Success is not easy. You should persevere, work hard and not stop despite all the challenges,” she said.

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

Ms Hashimy’s message is particularly poignant at a time when the region has fallen under much unrest.

Frode Mauring, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in the UAE, said young people in conflict regions should not be overlooked.

“Being young today means being entrepreneurial, millennial, technologically adapt, but also vulnerable, often underestimated and overlooked,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the vast majority of people in countries marked by armed conflict or unrest are young people so considering the needs and aspirations of youth in need is imperative.”

The world today has never had so many young people with nearly two billion people aged between 10 to 24.

“That is the largest population of youth in history and these young women and men are our future,” said Mr Mauring.

“Sadly, many are unable to realise their full potential and become true agents of change where it is most needed and that’s why we have this day.”

He said the focus in upcoming years should be a global effort to build communities and make them rise.

“There are 105 million people stretched out over areas of war and economic disparity. Arab youth today are more empowered than they’ve ever been, with wider access to quality education and to knowledge through digital means. But if you look outside the UAE, youth in other countries continue to face political and social exclusion and it continues to frustrate them, leading to lack of hope and future.”

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture & Knowledge Development. Antonie Robertson / The National
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture & Knowledge Development. Antonie Robertson / The National

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, said this year’s theme of Youth Building Peace was fitting.

“It focuses on the role of youth in building peace, harmony, security, solving conflicts, social justice in addition to sustainable development in the region and the world,” he said. “We believe in offering them all the opportunities so that they always remain at the service of their families, community, country and fully take part in the world around them.”

He said the UAE’s aim was to become an international model of the true national role of youth in the community, the country and the world. “The UAE makes sure to discover young talents and to take care of them in all ways so that they grow and prosper to achieve maximum benefit for all Emirati people [...] They are an essential part of the community,” Sheikh Nahyan said.

The UAE has relentlessly worked towards getting its youth involved in decision-making, with eight new ministers joining its cabinet last year, of which the average age is 38.

It also created the Youth National Council to represent the aspirations and affairs of young Emiratis before the Government.

The world's youngest cabinet minister, Shamma Al Mazrui was appointed UAE Minister for Youth Affairs in 2016, aged 22. Antonie Robertson / The National
The world's youngest cabinet minister, Shamma Al Mazrui was appointed UAE Minister for Youth Affairs in 2016, aged 22. Antonie Robertson / The National

Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Shamma Al Mazrui, who is 23, said the UAE had the best model for working with its youth. “Every year the world celebrates youth,” she said. “But we as Emirati youth celebrate the achievements of the UAE and its youth. Every year and every day we realise that the UAE and its leadership dedicate all their means for us, so that we become the best in the world.”

She said the UAE’s success with its youth was witnessed globally. “Behind this success is a leadership that works day and night,” she said. “We are lucky to have among us an Emirati national with world achievements, a person that works silently and ambitiously with youth.”

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