UAE leaders have hailed young people as the driving force behind the country's continued rise as the world celebrates International Youth Day.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, was joined by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, in lauding the pivotal role of the next generation.
International Youth Day was established by the United Nations and was first observed 21 years ago.
It aims to raise awareness of the need to engage younger generations in key decision-making and to put issues that affect them in the spotlight.
"On International Youth Day, we say to the youth of the Emirates: the future is in your hands," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid wrote on Twitter to mark the occasion.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed called on the world to harness the potential of youth and trust them to "create a brighter future for all".
"Our proud history was shaped by our people, and it is today’s youth that will shape our world tomorrow," Sheikh Mohamed posted on Twitter on Thursday.
"On International Youth Day let us celebrate their potential, empower them to succeed, and trust them to create a brighter future for all."
Youth given a voice
The UAE has long championed the role of young people in driving the country's progress.
The country ensured their voices were heard loud and clear when appointing Shamma Al Mazrui as Minister of State for Youth Affairs in 2016, a title which became Minister of State for Youth in 2020.
The minister is focused on representing youth issues and aspirations to fellow members of the UAE Cabinet and developing strategies for enhancing the opportunities for young people in the Emirates.
In 2019, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince launched the National Experts Programme to tap into the country's existing knowledge base to support the next generation of leaders.
Some of the brightest young minds in the Emirates have been paired with industry leaders, chief executives and government ministers as part of the mentorship programme.
The first class graduated later that year with another batch of 25 young people set to follow in their footsteps in September.
Youth to play key role at Expo 2020 Dubai
Young people are playing a major part in preparations for the eagerly anticipated Expo 2020 Dubai.
In 2015, Expo organisers set up Youth Connect, a body which has developed a number of initiatives to build up youngsters' participation in the event.
The platform introduced the Expo Journeys for Schools initiative, which enabled tens of thousands of pupils to meet the Youth Connect team and learn about the event’s important theme, which is 'Connecting Minds and Creating the Future', inspiring them to learn and innovate.
It was also behind the Youth Labs Initiative, in which younger people were given the opportunity to draft plans for the six-month spectacle, which gets under way in October.
Young people have been able to take part in Expo 2020 apprenticeship schemes to boost their career plans and allow them to take up work placements at the grand event.
The platform’s initiatives include professional training programmes that enabled many beneficiaries to participate in training courses over nine months.
Young volunteers will serve as Expo 2020 Dubai ambassadors by receiving international delegations and promoting the event as a distinctive world-class hub
Planning for a golden future
As part of investment in its youth, the Emirates is rewarding the brightest young minds.
In July, the UAE announced high school pupils who achieved top marks in their final exams will be granted golden visas by the UAE government.
Children who scored 95 per cent or more will receive a 10-year visa for themselves and their immediate families.
The UAE government said that move was an "appreciation of the efforts of outstanding students and their families, and within the framework of the UAE government's direction to create an attractive and encouraging environment for talented people".