Although it's relatively new to the UAE, the origins of military conscription go back thousands of years to ancient Mesopotamia, where the Kingdoms of Babylon employed a system of conscription called "ilkum". Clearly an ancient concept would not survive for this long if it did not have clear, tangible benefits to individuals and the society.
The decision to extend the term of National Service was met with enthusiasm from parents and young people in the UAE. In only three years, the benefits of the programme have already been felt by the conscripts who joined up and by society as a whole.
Many of those young people described National Service as a "life-changing programme" that has completely transformed their lives and perspective. It enforced important values and encouraged the adaptation of essential skills that are necessary in building successful individuals; such as discipline, time-management, respect and accountability.
The benefits of the programme were also reflected in the society as a whole, as it helped to create a safer society. Reports show that National Service has helped to decrease the crime rate among young Emiratis by 75 per cent, as well as significantly reduce the number of incidents of disorder between young people. In addition, National Service promotes social cohesion and strengthens national identity. In today's world, one of the most important things to any country is to ensure that it has a cohesive society that will remain resilient against the challenges and the threats that could affect it.
National Service teaches young people the value of the safe, secure and prosperous life that we live. The security and stability of a country is most important, because there is no prosperity without it. It is important to understand and appreciate the role of the military, one of the most important institutions in the state, because we owe our prosperity and security to the men and women who have dedicated their lives to keep us safe.
National Service is one way to give back to a country that has given us so much. When our young people begin their adult lives by giving back, there is great hope that they will aspire to become the force that will drive their country forward to succeed in the future.
Mariam Rashed Al-Mehairbi is an Abu Dhabi-based writer with a master's degree in security and strategic studies and a master's in media and communications