The deep sense of patriotism that runs through society was in evidence at recruitment centres this week. Hundreds of Emirati men aged between 30 and 40 turned up to volunteer for military service as soon as possible following the National and Reserve Service Authority’s decision to extend the recruitment programme. These men will join their younger brothers and sisters in serving their country and gaining important skills.
Since its inception in February 2015, national service has had a positive influence on its recruits. The parents of cadets have expressed great satisfaction about how it has helped their children become more independent and disciplined. Many cadets have adopted healthier habits, such as rising early and exercising. They have developed a new sense of purpose, along with valuable technical and practical skills that they can take with them into the workforce.
As we have noted before, the benefits of military service go beyond the individual. It is an important component of nation building, and a way to bring people from across the Emirates, from different places and family backgrounds, together for the common good. It offers people who may have had little interaction with their fellow Emiratis a chance to share their experiences, understand each other better and acknowledge their common interests.
The response this week when men in their 30s were given the opportunity to volunteer shows that the willingness to defend this country and uphold its values extends throughout the population. As Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said when he opened the National Service School of the Presidential Guards at Sih Hafeer Camp this month, the strength of nations “is not measured by their size or population, but by the determination of their people”. That determination is now clear for all to see.