The UAE Government attaches great importance to the role of youth and their empowerment in order to enable them to shoulder responsibilities, innovate and contribute to the welfare of the UAE's community.
Achievement of Vision 2021 requires the skills, energy, enthusiasm and commitment of the country's young people. To emphasise this, the UAE made several steps to ensure that the voice of the youth is heard and their views are shared.
Youth education and values
The UAE Government seeks to strengthen its firm values within its youth community and boost their sense of patriotism and devotion to the country. The UAE is strongly committed to embrace a moderate and tolerant society, in which extremism has no place or future. Read about tolerance in the UAE.
In 2012, the UAE Cabinet issued a document that contained code of conduct and ethics for Emiratis. The document aims at bringing up a new Emirati generation that is aware of its responsibilities and duties towards its nation, family and community. Read the document on Conduct and Ethics of the Emirati Citizen (PDF, 100 KB).
The UAE Government sponsored several initiatives and campaigns to consolidate the UAE inherent values and protect its citizens with:
In February 2016, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai called on UAE universities to nominate three young men and three young women who have either graduated in the last couple of years or are in their final years for the post of Minister of State for Youth Affairs. Sheikh Mohammed made this announcement through his official account on Twitter.
Eventually, 22-year old Shamma bint Sohail Faris Al Mazrui was appointed as the Minister of State for Youth Affairs. Shamma Al Mazrui has a Masters' degree from Oxford and Bachelor of Science from New York University. Shamma will also head the Youth Council.
In June 2019, the UAE Cabinet adopted a decision to include compulsorily young Emiratis in the boards of directors of government entities, institutions and companies. The decision specifies that at least one Emirati under the age of 30 must be included as a member of the boards of directors of government entities. The Cabinet launched an electronic platform for interested youths to register and apply to these boards.
On 3 February 2020, the Cabinet approved 33 young Emiratis as members of the boards of directors for key federal entities. The young board members will serve a term of two to three years and will undergo heavy training. They will enjoy similar privileges and benefits as other established board members.
The new members are expected to provide creative solutions for national issues in order to better serve the nation and its people.
The new Government (restructured in February 2016) includes eight new ministers, five of whom are women. The average age of the new ministers in the restructured Cabinet then was only 38 years, with the youngest Minister Shamma bint Sohail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs being only 22 years old.
Further, the age of the youngest member of Federal National Council of 2015, Saeed Saleh Mezar Saeed Al Rumaithi from Abu Dhabi was 33 years.
The ‘Emirates Youth Opportunities’ is a unified platform that facilitates Emirati youth to access the opportunities available to them in the area of self-development and for serving the country. Several entities are expected to post about opportunities available in their organisations. Opportunities include online training, scholarships, incubators and helping in volunteering efforts to tackle COVID-19. Emirates Youth Opportunities is launched by Federal Youth Authority to help the UAE’s youth invest their time optimally under all circumstances and raise their competencies in future skills.
In 2017, the UAE Government launched Youth Hub, a community space for the UAE‘s youth where they could meet and connect with other budding minds. Youth Hub caters to young people between the ages of 15 and 35 irrespective of whether they are studying or working.
Within the first 50 days of its inauguration, Youth Hub held several events that align with the youth aspirations and develop their capabilities and skills, and hosted more than 70 youth meetings and attracted 3000 members through its website. These efforts helped the Youth Hub to position itself as the world’s best youth centre.
Youth Hub provides workspaces to young entrepreneurs, researchers, programmers and media professionals. It also provides volunteering opportunities, innovation lab, brainstorming sessions and a coffee shop. The Hub’s visitors can book any of the available workspaces and attend the workshops and events for free through the official website of Youth Hub.
Emirates Youth Council
After restructuring the Cabinet, Sheikh Mohammed announced the establishment of Emirates Youth Council that will represent the youth ideas, aspirations and solutions before the government. Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs heads it. The council includes 13 young members of mixed gender who serve as Government advisors on youth issues.
The council is responsible to initiate a youth strategy, which matches the government's future trend. It will prepare studies about the role of youth in community development and promote sustainable communication with them, understand their ideas to find solutions to various challenges. The council will also help provide a better incubating environment for the youth to realise their dreams and aspirations and enable them to play a key role in the development process of the country.
Other forms of youth representation in the UAE
Local Youth Councils
Seven Local Youth Councils were established to serve as role models in engaging and inspiring peers across the seven emirates.
Ministerial Youth Councils
Federal entities adopted youth councils. A Ministerial Youth Council is created from the youth working in the ministry to discuss the challenges and come up with solutions for a better work place and productivity.
Global Youth Councils foster global relationships among Emirati students abroad and empower them to become ambassadors for Emirati values.
Federal Youth Authority
In April 2018, the UAE government approved the formation of Federal Youth Authority. The authority will coordinate with the local youth councils across the country and ensure that the objectives, plans and activities of these councils are consistent with the UAE’s youth empowerment agenda.
The authority will:
handle the establishment and management of youth centres and clubs in the UAE
·organise events and workshops
establish a database of youth councils to document the achievements
The 100-day programme
After taking office, Shamma Al Mazrui prepared a 100-day programme and presented it to Sheikh Mohammed who reviewed and approved it in April 2016. The programme will inspire youth by celebrating their achievements, empowering them to engage in social responsibility and helping them plan for future.
It aims at developing a system to support youth and enable them to innovate and contribute. The programme comprises a number of initiatives and projects including setting up ' Youth Circles'.
In March 2016, Emirates Foundation announced the launch of the nationwide ‘Youth Development and Wellbeing Index Survey’. The new index will help the country design smarter policies and investments to improve opportunities for young people.
Youth Index is a composite indicator that will be constructed using key youth related data collected in each emirate. It will indicate the extent to which young people in the country are engaged with contributing to their emirate, their country, and achieving their fullest potential.
For calculating the youth index, the researchers would involve people between the ages of 15 and 35 across the UAE. Youth Index will be declared by the end of 2016.
Mohammed bin Rashid Global Centre for Endowment Consultancy
Even before the Cabinet was restructured, efforts to empower the youth were being undertaken at the federal and local level. Some of these efforts are:
Providing educational opportunities
The UAE offers excellent education opportunities to the Emirati youth, in addition to scholarships to study in one of the private colleges or universities specified by the Ministry of Education in the country and abroad.
Ministry of Education offers scholarships to study in the UAE in the following fields:
In addition, Scholarship Office (SCO) under the Ministry of Presidential Affairs annually selects outstanding Emirati students to travel abroad in pursuit of their education at prestigious, international universities. It provides scholarship students with competitive monthly salaries, full university tuition and fees, health insurance, annual air ticket and books allowance.
Providing business support
The UAE government supports youth businesses through dedicated funds and awards, which aim to support young entrepreneurs in all phases of their development across all segments of the small and medium enterprise sector. This includes:
strengthen cooperation, collaboration and communication between all youth development stakeholders
monitor youth empowerment progress using key performance indicators and accountability measures
provide an integrated and common vision and framework for young Emiratis based on opportunities, needs and priorities.
Establishing Youth Shura Consultative Council
Youth Shura Consultative Council was established in Sharjah under the supreme directives of H. H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, his wife and the Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. It was established in around 2010.
Youth Shura Consultative Council aims to encourage young people to take an active part in public life, and boost their effective contribution to the service and development of the UAE.
General Authority for Sports is playing a leading role in supporting talented youth and providing a positive attractive environment that enables them to develop physical and mental abilities, utilise free time and instil loyalty and a responsibility to volunteer. It launched a number of programmes and initiatives to support youth which include:
In 2017, the UAE launched the Arab Youth Centre during the World Government Summit 2017. The centre works on initiatives led by the Arab youth and creates opportunities that allow them to contribute to national efforts for sustainable development.
In 2018, the centre launched the ‘Arab Youth Opportunities’ platform that aims to link young people with local, regional and global institutions which offer them opportunities to fulfill their hopes and dreams. Opportunities include scholarships, development programmes, training workshops, incubators and events that enable them to interact with other youths and institutions.
'One Million Arab Coders' initiative
In October 2017, Sheikh Mohammed, launched the initiative of 'One Million Arab Coders'. Launched under the umbrella of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), this initiative seeks to provide free training to one million young Arabs, equip them with the knowledge of coding and programming and prepare them for job opportunities in a knowledge and ICT-based economy.
The training will be beneficial for those who wish to be a web developer, app developer, front-end web expert or data analyst specialist. It will be provided online and will be offered in cooperation with the leading educational institutions and best international companies. Arab youths are welcome to register on the official website, titled Arab Coders.
After registering, candidates will go through several three-month virtual coding programmes. The top 1,000 top students will receive scholarships and be enrolled in the Coder Challenge. The winner will receive 1 million USD and each of the nine runners-up will receive 50,000 USD each as prize. Tutors also stand to receive hefty prize money.