Harnessing the power of youth

Providing young people with a meaningful role in society is an investment in the future

Eighty elected pupils from Sharjah schools attend the first session of the Youth council in Sharjah in its sixth chapter. Courtesy Sharjsh Consultative Council
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Throughout the Middle East there have been many attempts to embolden young people and get them positively engaged in society. Through the Emirates Youth Council (EYC), this country is taking concrete steps towards the goal of youth empowerment on a local and national level.

The Ministry of Interior created the EYC this year to help identify challenges facing young people under the directive of Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. The EYC is headed by 22-year-old Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs. As The National reported over the weekend, two new youth councils have recently been announced – one in Sharjah and one in Fujairah. These councils include young professionals from different backgrounds and specialisations and the new branches follow similar councils in Ajman and Dubai.

The empowerment of youth, in a country with a young and vibrant population, is a prudent measure. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, made this clear when he approved the 100-day plan to establish youth councils across the country that “governments cannot carry out sustainable development without meaningful partnerships with the youth”. The action plan introduced a unique long-term national strategy to ensure that young people are supported and actively engaged, starting from the establishments of youth councils to the launch of the Youth Endowment last month to support those who aspire to start their own businesses and advance their entrepreneurial skills.

The EYC has already started organising Youth Circles, which aim to promote better communication between the Government and young people by allowing any one to register to participate in periodical meetings taking place throughout the Emirates to discuss issues that concerns them, including national identity, sustainability, health and education. By doing so, the Government is translating belief into concrete action. Youth engagement has been discussed widely in the region before but without real progress. The UAE, yet again, provides an example for other countries to follow.