It will be my honour to serve this great country

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, is pivotal to the UAE’s diplomatic successes, says Fatema Yousuf. Andres Kudacki / AP Photo
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, is pivotal to the UAE’s diplomatic successes, says Fatema Yousuf. Andres Kudacki / AP Photo

Over the years, I have heard many of my friends speak about their need to find their calling and to figure out what it is they were “meant” to do with their life. I have seen them getting anxious about an uncertain future that lies ahead of them. Not me. I was lucky.

In 2012, I started my first day as an intern at the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in London. I was only 22 when I realised that becoming a diplomat and serving my country on the global stage is what I wanted to do as a vocation. 

Before my internship, I had many misconceptions of what the role of a diplomat actually entails. I had wrongfully assumed that diplomacy was all about socialising, about access to lavish gatherings and about an abundance of other privileges. I was wrong.

Representing the UAE on the global stage is a responsibility; one that requires diligence, hard work, an inexhaustible repertoire of skills and – more importantly – a sound understanding of the UAE’s values of peace, prosperity, tolerance and stability. 

It is obvious to me that our leadership realised very early on that global opportunities and challenges require collective action. Through an outward-facing, collaborative and impact-orientated approach, the UAE has become a global leader that symbolises human progress. Talent, innovation and partnerships now originate in the UAE to build new opportunities and tackle the world’s challenges – together. That is why maintaining, and further developing, our strategically important position in the international arena requires a continued commitment from us. Us, the new diplomats.

I also believe that Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporations, is pivotal to the UAE’s international diplomatic successes. His leadership skills, passion and humility have become a source of daily inspiration for me. It was also under his guidance that the Emirates Diplomatic Academy (EDA) was established in an effort to address current and future challenges and enhance the UAE’s ongoing successes in building bridges around the world.

The EDA, the national platform for international relations and diplomatic training and research, from which I will be one of the first students to graduate, has equipped me with a more practical and modern understanding of diplomacy, one that I believe will empower me for years to come.

During my nine months at the academy I had invaluable experiences, including meeting some world-class speakers, ranging from politicians and policymakers to business leaders. Part of the extensive teaching curriculum was a module on negotiation and mediation that I particularly enjoyed. At the same time, my day-to-day interactions with students from different educational backgrounds from across the UAE have nurtured my ability to communicate effectively and hone my networking skills. And best of all, I believe, is that I have made friends for life at the EDA.

 A lifetime is also how long I hope to spend serving my country.

That is why, when I stand to graduate on October 9 in front of Sheikh Abdullah, my family and my EDA colleagues and professors, I will stand with a full understanding that that day does not mark the end of my journey, but the beginning of a lifelong purpose.

Fatema Yousuf, who will graduate as a top student from Emirates Diplomatic Academy on October 9, works for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. She has a degree in International Relations from the American University of Sharjah

Published: September 28, 2016 04:00 AM

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