Majority of UAE residents approve of military service, YouGov survey finds

Compulsory training a winner, as is right of women to enrol.
Military service conscripts on parade. The law has proven popular. Wam
Military service conscripts on parade. The law has proven popular. Wam

ABU DHABI // Making military service compulsory will have an invaluable, lifelong impact on young men, an overwhelming majority of Emiratis believe.

The survey also finds women should have the right to sign up to the Armed Forces.

Respondents were quizzed about the National and Reserve Service Law, which requires all men who have finished secondary school or are aged between 18 and 30 to undergo military training.

It is optional for women aged 18 to 30, provided they have their parents’ consent.

Most respondents agree that the rules, announced in January, will be beneficial for the nation, while seven in 10 of the UAE nationals say Emirati women should have the right to join the military service.

“We feel proud of our country and would do anything for it,” says Al Anood, 30, an Emirati housewife.

“If girls in my family wanted to go for military service, it would be fine.”

Anood Ahmed, 24, agrees.

“None of my friends have gone for military training, but if they want to they can go,” says the Abu Dhabi resident. “It depends on the person. If they want to go, they should be able to.”

Zayed Al Falasi, 31, says women should be encouraged to sign up. 

“They should do it out of loyalty to the country,” says the government worker, who also lives in Abu Dhabi. 

“I am not saying that all women need to enrol for service, as some have families and commitments, but if any girl can help and wants to help, she should be encouraged to go ahead.”

Saeed Al Quwaisi, 21, says: “If girls want to enrol for military service there is no problem with it. They should, however, go with their families or their husbands if they are married.”

Sara Ali, 20, an Emirati student, has been training with the military for two years.

She chose the career before the rules were announced and would encourage other women to follow. 

“I learnt a lot and would encourage others to go,” Ms Ali says. 

“In the beginning it is tough but then it becomes easy. You learn many skills during military service. I think it’s very good for you. 

“You learn how to keep yourself safe from the enemy and you learn how to protect yourself.”

The survey quizzed respondents about their opinion on national service for young recruits from across the UAE.

It asked what effect the laws would have on recruits. 

Of the 1,020 survey respondents, 11 per cent were Emirati.

Of those, 85 per cent agree military service should be compulsory for Emirati men, and 84 per cent say this will have a positive impact on young Emiratis. 

Only 2 per cent disagree. 

More than three in four (79 per cent) believe it will be an invaluable skill for the future, and 83 per cent say military training is a good way to show patriotism.

“Emiratis strongly believe in the need of military service and the benefits it can offer them,” says Lara Al Barazi.

“What was more interesting is to find that they are big advocates of Emirati women’s right to join this service. That’s a very important and positive step towards empowering local women.” Expatriates also agree.

Of the total number of people polled, 81 per cent agree military service will have a positive impact on the lives of young Emiratis.

Again, only 2 per cent disagree. The rest neither agree or disagree. 

Westerners, in particular, felt women have a right to be in the military should they choose. Only 3 per cent felt they shouldn’t. 

Ahlam Bashir, 42, a nurse from Somalia, has been living in Abu Dhabi since she was six and feels military service is a good life lesson for the next generation of Emiratis.

“Even though I am not a national I feel so deeply for UAE,” Ms Bashir says. “How would the people who belong to this country feel?

“It is good to include them in the military service and teach them about it.”

The rules stipulate that Emiratis who have finished secondary school serve nine months, while those who have not serve two years.

The first batch of recruits began their training in September.

Of the survey respondents, 59 per cent are male, and almost three-quarters (73 per cent) are over the age of 30.

Forty-six per cent live in Dubai, 30 per cent in Abu Dhabi and 15 per cent lived in Sharjah, while 9 per cent are from the other emirates. 

jbell@thenational.ae

arizvi2@thenational.ae

Published: December 1, 2014 04:00 AM

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