The UAE’s youth sector
The UAE Government sees young people as its greatest assets; the foundation of the country’s future. In 2016, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, committed to putting young people’s needs and desires at the fore, by creating the position of Minister of State for Youth Affairs – a dedicated post that showed the government’s confidence in young people’s capabilities.
This enabled the youth to shoulder national responsibilities, innovate and contribute to the welfare of the UAE's community. To achieve Vision 2021, the UAE needs the skills, energy, enthusiasm and commitment of the country's young people, and to do that, young people’s voices must be heard, their ideas taken on, and their recommendations implemented at all government levels.
The government took seriously the potential advantages of harnessing the ‘youth bulge’ in the UAE and in the region, appointing one of the youngest ministers in the world, H. E. Shamma Al Mazrui. Al Mazrui was selected from a pool of talented young individuals, nominated by universities from across the country. To place a young person at the helm of such an important government department was a vote of confidence in this generation’s ability to lead effectively.
Emirates Youth Opportunities
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.
Interactive Youth Lab
Interactive Youth Lab is an innovative initiative aimed at activating the role of youth and investing their creative potential in discovering solutions and ideas for the development of government initiatives and the work of the mGovernment sector. The lab aims to enhance the role of young people and their place in decision-making and policy development, all in an interactive way.
Students of Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, members of the Abu Dhabi Youth Council and a distinguished group of Emirati youth participated in this lab which was launched in February 2019 by Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA).
The National Youth Strategy
The UAE’s National Youth Strategy looks at the five major transitions in a youth’s life in a 20-year span.
From ages 15-35, youth transition through these critical stages:
- Adopting a healthy and safe lifestyle
- Starting a family
- Exercising their citizenship.
FYA invests in youth’s energy, our most valuable resource, by nurturing their character, developing an enabling environment for their growth and development, and maximizing their participation.
FYA uses the metaphor of a plant to illustrate their strategy:
- Character in young people is like the roots of a tree, it influences everything we do. Every action, attitude and belief we take is first rooted in our character. This means that the attitudes, beliefs and choices of our youth shape our nation and our world. Character matters the most.
- The UAE is on a mission to cultivate character in youth that builds on our core values of inclusion, tolerance, family and commitment to excellence.
- The stem of the plant is the enabling environment. We provide both, a tangible and intangible environment in terms of physical spaces and enabling government policies for youth.
- We believe that when we invest in youth, it is similar to watering the plants and providing them with sunlight and good soil. Youth will participate by sharing their talents and skills back into the country, which will build the foundation for the next 50 years of the UAE’s development.
Policies for youth
The UAE Government designed many policies to make the youth take part in every sector and at all levels of governance and decision-making, and to infuse them into the national strategy as key stakeholders and actors in the country’s development.
Youth Engagement Policy
The UAE’s mandate is to institutionalise the whole youth sector. The UAE has made big bets on youth and believes that engaging them is the fundamental component to success in the next 50 years of development.
FYA is therefore part of spearheading the Engagement policy to include the voice of the youth in everything we do. Engaging youth means three core things:
- Engagement is listening
- Engagement is data capturing
- Engagement is purposeful, inclusive and puts youth and their input as the core of the country’s development strategy.
The UAE engages youth at regional (through the Arab Youth Centre), national and local levels. It engages its youth in all matters, and it can be evidenced in the policies and initiatives below.
Emirati Youth Board Membership
In June 2019, the UAE Cabinet made it mandatory for federal government entities to include young Emiratis (under 30 years old) in the Boards of Directors of their respective entities. It launched an electronic platform for those interested to register and apply to these boards, and on 3rd February 2020, Cabinet approved the appointment of 33 applicants as members of the Boards of Directors for key federal entities.
The young board members serve two to three-year terms and undergo intensive training. They enjoy similar privileges and benefits as other established board members. The new members are expected to provide creative solutions for national issues and to ensure that youth are given opportunities and that their challenges are resolved at every level.
In 2017, the UAE government developed Youth Councils as a unique tool to ensure that the youth represent their points of view and needs at all stages of the policy development process.
Youth Councils were launched with an aim to nurture young leaders by giving them a key role in decision-making and in the development of policies and projects. They provide a platform for youth to lead projects in their field or their emirate. The ecosystem of the Youth Councils is crucial to implementing and executing the UAE’s National Youth Strategy.
There are five Youth Councils which serve as the central form of volunteer governance over many of the Youth initiatives and points of engagement:
● Emirates Youth Council (EYC)
● Local Youth Councils (LYC)
● Global Youth Councils (GYC)
● Inter-Ministerial Councils (IMC)
These function as the representative arms of youth across the UAE’s specific ministries.
● Corporate Councils
These function as the representative arms of youth across the UAE’s private and public sector enterprises.
The Youth Housing Policy
On 2 June 2020, the UAE Cabinet approved the Youth Housing Awareness Policy to raise youth awareness and provide them with a host of information on the various phases of housing construction.
The policy requires all young applicants (from 18 to 35 years) to complete a training course on the foundations of housing construction as a main requirement to apply for housing assistance at the local and federal level in the UAE.
Federal Youth Authority also developed a ‘Housing 101’ course, which provides instructions on the how to build a house – from conception to construction.
View the full list of Youth Policies.
Designed by and for the youth, Youth Circles provide two-way dialogues directly between the youth and our government, private sector and global leaders.
Youth Circles are affordable, accessible and fully community-led. Organised periodically throughout different global locations, the aim of Youth Circles is to develop practical solutions, innovative ideas and effective policies and tangibly connect Youth to leadership.
In Youth Circles, youth share their ideas, needs, challenges and dreams. Leaders listen, hold a dialogue and take action. Each event addresses a specific topic and the young participants try to come up with solutions and ideas through discussions and recommendations.
Youth Hubs are state-of-the-art spaces done by the youth, for the youth. They are collaborative work and convening spaces that connect young people throughout the UAE with the essential resources and ecosystem for growth.
The mission of Youth Hub is to provide world-class resources for the youth to explore their purpose in life and pursue their potential and thrive. Resources include both, facilities and courses in various skills designed to bring out their potential.
Youth Hubs are located across all the UAE and are open to young people between 15 and 35 years irrespective of whether they are students, employees or entrepreneurs.
The first Youth Hub opened in Dubai in September 2017 in order to connect youth in the areas of:
- job creation and economic growth
- education and lifelong learning
- innovation and entrepreneurship
- mentoring and partnerships and
- health and wellness.
There are currently 13 Youth Hubs around the UAE. Each Youth Hub is distinctly designed to serve the youth of that emirate, accommodating their needs and aspirations.
The UAE and Arab youth
In 2017, the UAE launched the Arab Youth Center (AYC) during the World Government Summit 2017. AYC is a regional youth centre in the UAE that helps to develop youth capabilities and supports innovation and creativity in the Arab world. It implements initiatives across different sectors, and conducts research amongst young Arabs to help decision-makers shape youth-friendly policies.
AYC runs over 25 initiatives every year, connecting the youth to industry professionals, opening doors for them in the academic world, helping them build their businesses and much more.
For the ninth year in a row, the UAE is the Arab youth's first choice for living, according to the Arab Youth Survey 2020. The UAE recognises the importance of equipping not just its own youth, but also the youth within the region. The success of the region lies in its youth, and the UAE is working closely with young Arabs to make sure their contributions to their countries have a ripple effect across borders and well into the future.
Updated on 25 Jul 2022