Youngest minister in the World: How Shamma Al Mazrui's life changed after Sheikh Mohammed's open call

UAE is a country that sets no limit or cap to the dreams of its young generation, says the Minister of Community Development

by

Nasreen Abdulla

/

Sahim Salim

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Published: Sun 24 Sep 2023, 4:01 PM

Last updated: Sun 24 Sep 2023, 10:14 PM

The UAE's first Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Shamma Al Mazrui, was 22 when she assumed the Cabinet post in 2016 - making her the youngest minister in the world.

On Sunday (Sept 24), in search of the country's Minister of Youth, the UAE Vice-President invited applications from young men and women Emiratis.


Al Mazrui, who was appointed Minister of Community Development earlier this year, became the world's youngest minister. This prestigious appointment followed a similar open call to serve the country by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

He had tweeted asking UAE universities to nominate a young man or woman to take a post in the country's cabinet. "What I didn't know was that my university had nominated me," she said during a forum.


Her nomination marked a profound turning point in her life. Working as a public policy analyst, she emerged as the chosen candidate from a pool of hundreds of applicants and successfully navigated through a rigorous interview process. Transitioning from a private life to a prominent public role presented her with immense challenges and responsibilities.

The UAE is a country that sets no limit or cap to the dreams of its young generation, she said. "My story is a message to all young men and women in our country that nothing is impossible in life. Nothing is impossible in the United Arab Emirates."

Key lessons

During a conference held last year, she admitted that the role was a steep learning curve. "In my first year as a minister, I took notes in 25 notebooks! I took my job in a student-teacher relationship. I learned every day, and until today, I have a passion for learning. As a leader, you should never stop learning," Al Mazrui said at the World Government Summit in 2022.

Al Mazrui said that a key lesson she learned as a public servant is that leadership is a value, not a professional commitment.

"Leadership is not about the position or title; it is a choice and decision to genuinely serve the people. Anyone can be a leader in their schools, houses, communities or societies as long as they are driven by the pure intention to serve people," she said.

She also shared that listening was among the first qualities she developed as a leader. "In my first cabinet meeting, I learned the value of listening because how can you fulfil people's needs, improve their lives or truly serve them without listening?"

Additional responsibilities

In February, Al Mazrui was appointed as the UAE's COP28 Youth Climate Champion. In March, she led an event titled The 'Road to COP28' that engaged with a number of stakeholders, including young students between the ages of 7 and 15.

In addition to this, she occupies several positions, including Chairperson for UAE Special Olympics, Vice-Chair of the Arab Youth Center and Secretary General of the Education and Human Resources Council of the UAE Cabinet. She is also part of NAFIS's Board of Directors and Executive Council.

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