ABU DHABI // Discipline and respect instilled by National Service has led to a 75 per cent fall in crimes committed by young Emiratis in the past three years.
The most dramatic change was in the number of fights or assaults among those aged between 18 and 30 that led to death or disability.
Sixty-one cases were reported in the past three years, down from 274 in the three years before National Service was introduced in 2014.
“Recruits said the National Service had helped to shape their personality and develop their skills,” the Abu Dhabi Justice Department said.
“The experience, they said, helped them gain new skills and gave them a sense of responsibility towards the community.”
The department told of recruits who described their years of service as a “turning point” in their lives.
The number of vandalism cases dropped by 25.2 per cent to 519 in the past three years from 694 in the 36 months before.
Trespassing was down by 11.5 per cent, while swearing and insulting people fell by 27 per cent, from 374 to 273.
There was also a 53 per cent drop in court cases relating to bounced or bad cheques, from 3,369 to 1,587 cases.
Abdulla Al Mansoori joined the second batch of recruits and said that National Service taught him self-reliance, patience and perseverance.
“The programme had positive outcomes that reflected on the community by enhancing noble traits such as loyalty towards the country and its leadership,” Mr Al Mansoori said.
Rashed Al Darmaki, another recruit, said the discipline he gained from military life “reflected on his personality and encouraged him to abide by the laws and regulations”.
Dherar Al Falasi, general director of Watani Al Emarat, a social development programme to promote national identity and good citizenship, said serving in the forces had helped many young people get into shape.
“Many Emiratis had a problem with time management and by training them and introducing them to these programmes, it breaks their bad habits,” Mr Al Falasi said. “They are also more aware of how to manage their time. It not only reduces crime rates but many other things in the community.”
He said young men were more health conscious after leaving the Armed Forces. “Previously parents used to be a little hesitant to send their children, but now they have noticed that it’s in their benefit,” Mr Al Falasi said.
Mohamed Al Qadhi, from Sandooq Al Watan, a private fund that supports Emiratis in education, said: “The UAE’s military service programme is one of the nation’s most important.
“It ensures the safety and sustainability of our beloved nation and is also a life-changing experience for participants. It develops key skills and personality traits that will allow them to succeed and prosper in the future.”
National Service is mandatory for men between 18 and 30 years old, who serve 12 months.
Women in that age group can volunteer, as can Emirati men aged 30 to 40.