DUBAI // Hundreds of Emirati men aged between 30 and 40 on Sunday lined up at recruitment centres to register for voluntary National Service.
Last week, the National and Reserve Service Authority announced it would receive applications from older citizens as of Sunday.
All Emirati men born between May 30, 1984, and May 30, 1989, were urged to visit their nearest recruitment centre to see if they were eligible to serve.
Many of those who answered the call had younger siblings or friends in the Armed Forces and were keen to join them in their country’s service.
“It’s a great feeling to register,” said Mohamed Al Marzooqi, 31, a government employee.
“I saw my younger brothers go through the process and was envious of them. They returned changed men. It’s a duty and an honour and I am honoured to answer the call of duty.”
Mr Al Marzooqi, who registered at Al Nahyan Camp, will undergo several medical fitness checks before his application to start training is accepted.
The older volunteers will have to complete 15 weeks of training, unlike younger recruits who spend a year in uniform.
Men aged between 18 and 30 must serve 12 months of National Service, while women in that age group can volunteer.
“One of the Emirati pilots who died in Yemen last week was 37, so were several of our country’s martyrs,” said Mr Al Marzooqi.
“Fifteen weeks is not a long time. I think it should be mandatory for our age group also.”
Khalaf Al Mansoori, 34, another new recruit, said: “There is no reason not to join. It’s only 15 weeks and the skills you learn will be beneficial.
“I’ll miss my children but I know I’m setting a good example, and I know that they’ll be proud of me,” he said. “We’re doing this to protect the country for the future generations.”
A recruit’s service with his employer is deemed by law to be uninterrupted by National Service, meaning pensions, bonuses and other benefits will not be affected, and accrued leave can not be cancelled.
The authority has also announced a three-day career fair to be held in May to help recruits find jobs and university placements when their service is completed.
It called on government departments, private companies and the education sector to participate in the exhibition.
Recruitment centres are in Al Nahyan Camp in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain Camp, Al Rahmaniya Camp in Sharjah and Liwa Camp in the Western Region.