Recruits say UAE national service compensation a bonus

New federal decree sets out amounts to be paid for national service.

Majed Al Boom, a medical student, said he was excited to serve his country and felt the compensation would mostly benefit recruits without high school degrees. Satish Kumar / The National
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ABU DHABI // Aspiring national service recruits have said they see compensation for serving as an added perk after learning how much they would receive this week.
A Federal Decree from the President, Sheikh Khalifa, was announced on Monday and stated that unemployed and self-employed recruits would be paid Dh3,000 a month during their military service.
Khaled Al Shamsi, 21, said any payment was an extra bonus on top of the honour of serving his country.
He had heard from relatives in the military that there was a possibility of mandatory military service before it was officially announced, and immediately warmed to the idea.
"We as Emiratis are low in numbers so it is important to train our population to learn to defend the country against an attack," said Mr Al Shamsi, a mechanical engineering student at the Higher College of Technology in Al Ain.
Mr Al Shamsi said the remuneration would be a big incentive for unemployed Emiratis who are hesitating to sign up.
Tariq Al Kazim, 22, said he was expecting the payment to be a bit higher, but was satisfied with the amount.
"There were a lot of rumours flying around, but in the end I think it's pretty good," said Mr Al Kazim, a student at the New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi.
Mr Al Kazim, who initially had not been looking forward to it, said he soon realised the many benefits he would attain from military service.
"The money is just a bonus, but I'm looking forward to learning self defence to defend my country, as well as losing weight so I can act in my movies," he said.
The aspiring director and scriptwriter said after serving his nine months he hoped to have saved enough money to shoot two short films, but also to have gained experiences that would benefit him in his profession. "I always wanted to shoot an A-Team style movie so it would be great to learn how to handle weaponry," he said.
Talk on university campus also led Majed Al Boom, a second-year medical student at UAE University, to believe national service salaries would be greater than they are.
"Everyone was saying that it would be challenging but they would pay you well. Regardless, I am excited to serve. It's important because we should know how to defend our country," said the 22-year-old.
Mr Al Boom said the compensation would mostly benefit recruits without high school degrees.
"It's great for them as it will get them into the system, give them more opportunity as well as recognition and respect," he said.
With the announcement that self-employed recruits would receive the same amount as the unemployed, gym owner Saud Al Shamsi, 23, said the amount paid to him was not that important.
"I wasn't even expecting to be paid and I wouldn't mind if I didn't get any money," said Mr Al Shamsi, who opened the Dunes CrossFit gym in 2012. He said that serving the country came first and everything else came second to that.
According to Federal Decree No 117, recruits who continue after their national service has been completed will be paid Dh21,000 a month if they are brigadiers, Dh19,000 if they are lieutenant colonel up to major, Dh17,000 if they are lieutenant up to captain, and Dh15,000 for all other ranks.
Reserve servicemen and employees will receive Dh3,000 a month for serving three months or less, Dh8,000 for service spanning from three to nine months, and Dh15,000 for more than nine months' service.