ABU DHABI // The first batch of young Emiratis will begin their national service in September at three military training centres in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah.
There will also be five centres across the country for specialised training. One will be in Al Gharbia and another will be reserved for women.
Candidates will be selected in stages based on their age.
“The National Service Law has been implemented after carefully studying and looking at best international practices of countries with national service,” Maj Gen Sheikh Ahmed bin Tahnoon, director of the National Service Authority, said on Monday.
“The service is made up of three parts. The first is basic military training. Next they will be allocated to different branches of the military based on their skills. Finally they will receive specialised training in a specific field, which they have excelled in.
“Those who wish to continue with a career in the military after their service is completed will be given an opportunity to do so.”
Emirati men aged between 18 and 30 will serve for at least nine months. Those who have not graduated from secondary school will do so for two years.
Pupils who excel at secondary school will be allowed to continue their studies before the compulsory service.
Emirati women can also volunteer for national service. “We will of course take into consideration their marital status and if they have children to care for,” said Sheikh Ahmed.
Men with criminal records will also be invited to serve and a special programme for those over 30 but under 40 will be considered if demand is high.
Participants will have their jobs reserved until they complete the training and they will continue to receive their salary. Private sector employers will have to pay only half the salary and the Government will cover the rest.
“I would like to thank the strong Emirati family, which has produced generations we are proud and honoured to be a part of,” Sheikh Ahmed said.
He said the service would build strong personalities and self-esteem. “It will make them more generous, innovative and creative. It will also protect them against the poisons of destructive beliefs that intend to segregate them from their country and risk their safety.”
The exact number of Emiratis who will serve, or the gender breakdown, has not been determined.
“On completion of national service, members may be called in to service up to the age of 58,” said Maj Gen Salem Al Kaabi, the director of military justice.
Asked whether the service would apply to the children of Emirati women, Gen Al Kaabi said: “The service is linked to the citizenship papers – not the passport. Anyone with a Family Book who falls within the criteria will have to register for national service.”
Men with medical conditions that prevent them from serving will be exempt, as will a family’s only son.
“If enough people over the age of 30 wish to volunteer, we can arrange a programme for them as well. So long as they are not over 40 years old,” said Gen Al Kaabi.
“The age range for national service is 18 to 30. But we can’t handle all the people within that age range at once, so we will announce them in batches, by age group,” said Brig Gen Mohammed Al Neyadi, strategic planner for the National Service Authority.
“People will have to go to the training centres to register and receive their medical check.
“Secondary school graduates with over 90 per cent grade point average will have their service delayed until after they complete their university education.
“We also plan to hold a competition for the national service logo, which we will announce shortly.”
Further inquiries can be made on the 800555 free number or through the authority’s social media contacts.