Young Emiratis have the talent, skills and drive to own the future

We are indeed fortunate to live in a country that places high values on both of these spheres of influence, the older generation with their full lives of experience, and the youth with exuberance and thirst for knowledge


Rasha Abu Baker

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Published: Wed 10 Aug 2022, 9:54 PM

Last updated: Fri 12 Aug 2022, 10:51 AM

On Friday this week, the world celebrates the International Day of Youth, an annual awareness day designated by the United Nations in 1998 to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding youth – the latter part of which could imply a nuance of negativity, but it is more aimed at being a focusing movement to elicit appreciation and encourage the active participation of our younger generations in the community. This is, in fact, not a new way of thinking.

“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth” – a simple message from Diogenes about 2,300 years ago has lost none of its importance and remains a rallying cry for informed societies that are led by visionary leaders. The UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, was just as inspiring when he said, “Future generations will be living in a world that is very different from that to which we are accustomed. It is essential that we prepare ourselves and our children, for that new world.” His wise words were followed by a lifetime dedicated to ensuring just that, that the sons and daughters of the Emirates were prepared for roles they would play in building a nation capable of taking its place in a rapidly changing world, reinforcing the need to provide a thorough education that led to increased opportunities to participate in society, contribute to the economy and be upstanding citizens in their own right.

This perceptive attitude towards the nation’s youth was echoed by the late President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, when he said, “The youth are the true wealth of the nation,” and highlighted the importance of a broad education, saying, “The university experience is a period of enlightenment for students...not just a field of pure academic study, rather, it is a centre of glorious intellectual, civilisational and cultural enlightenment.” This led to the inauguration of Khalifa University, an internationally top-ranked research-intensive university located in Abu Dhabi, now recognised in the QS World University Rankings' top 200 universities in the world for 2023.

President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in his recent address to the nation, reinforced his magnanimity in considering the importance of the role that a well-educated and capable younger generation plays, saying, “Today, the UAE economy is thriving and continues to grow at an impressive rate. We are blessed with many resources, especially our high-skilled human capital, as the UAE possesses a distinguished wealth of young manpower,” a validation of the positivity attached to securing a well-educated younger generation.

The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages.' The title has a clue as to where the emphasis for this year’s celebration is being placed – the relationship between generations across the world and how they act, interact, and how they can have an influence on each other within their communities. In a society that can be a little self-absorbed, we can sometimes overlook the contributions that the extremes in our communities – the young and the elderly - can make. We are indeed fortunate to live in a country that places high values on both of these spheres of influence, the older generation with their full lives of experience, and the youth with exuberance and thirst for knowledge.

For the rest of us, our roles are clear. We are the catalysts of change, the middle-men and women with a responsibility to encourage intergenerational solidarity. We stand on the shoulders of great people who have prepared the way for us to play a part in facilitating harmony within the context of supporting a social code of ethics and maintaining a society willing to provide our youth with the necessary skills and experience that enables them to be ready to take their place in federal, local, and private sector initiatives; to be the next leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists, teachers and thought leaders.

So, this Friday, on International Youth Day, let’s make our intentions clear – to entrust our youth with the nation’s future, to encourage them to accept the mantle of responsibility, and, most of all, to bestow our respect and faith in them – for they are the future.

On this note, I am happy to announce that Khaleej Times is launching a special opinion column titled: ‘Young Emiratis’ which will provide Emirati youth with a platform to express their views and engage with the public.

Happy International Youth Day!

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