UAE banking on youth to offset dependency on oil

UAE banking on youth to offset dependency on oil

Lt-General Shaikh Saif says declining oil prices not a concern; new terrorism targeting minds, households.

By Nivriti Butalia/senior Reporter

Published: Wed 11 Feb 2015, 12:52 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:25 PM

Shaikh Saif during the plenary session on progressive patriotism at The Government Summit on Monday. — KT photo by Shihab

The UAE’s 90 per cent dependency on oil revenues in the 1960s has come down to 30 per cent. And with ‘progressive patriotism’, the bar has been raised. By 2021, the UAE aims to be only five per cent dependent on oil.

“We look at the future with optimism. When the last shipment of oil will leave our country, we can say we have invested in the minds of our youth,” Lt-General Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, said during a most interesting talk during The Government Summit.

Shaikh Saif invoked philosophers, thinkers, his ancestors, former leaders of the US and criminal anthropologists during his talk.

Shaikh Saif said progressive patriotism is not a new concept and that 400 years ago, before there were boundaries and government structures, Plato had spoken of the need for patriotism, “the need to create an entity that had energy, motivation, incentive, education and learning linked to the state”.

At the beginning of his talk, he was surrounded by Emirati youth, some in military attire, and some there to represent the youth of the nation. “These people to my right are our military and civil future,” he said to loud applause. “Patriotism is more than belonging. It is more than proving your identity through your passport. It is a pledge to your government, to your family and to yourself, and it is not without challenges.”

The two challenges he spoke of at length were terrorism and declining oil prices. “Since 2012-2013, crimes of terror have gone up by 60 per cent.”

This figure will further increase if a plan of action is not formulated, he warned. “There is old terrorism and new terrorism,” he said. Old terrorism is based on bombs, weapons and explosives. But new terrorism is targeting minds, households and children.

There is a danger, he said, of “producing an intellectually confused generation” because there are elements in society disseminating terrorist ideology. He spoke of the need for society to stand together and stop this.

Progressive patriotism must spread awareness against the spreading of terrorist ideology. The late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, he said, was alert to this danger, and addressed university students 25 years ago on this issue.

“Countering terrorism is a collective responsibility, not just that of the security institutions.”

Shaikh Saif touched upon the matter of the Italian scientist Lombroso, who believed that criminals have identifiable characteristics. He spoke of how society deals with drug users, traffickers and dealers. He spoke of the danger of the financiers of terror and drug rackets. He spoke of the role media has to play in bringing to book the financiers and those who influence and ruin the minds of young ones.

About declining oil prices, he said “it is a concern but not a crisis”. He spoke of the property slump the UAE emerged from. There is hope, he said, as there is a decrease in the GDP’s dependence on oil.

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