The UAE launched its national youth retreat initiative, which was announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai via his twitter account in September 2016. The proceedings of which was begun on the third of October 2016, under the leadership and special supervision of Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui, the UAE’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs.
His highness granted all the Twitter users, the opportunity to share their ideas and suggestions on how to empower youth and activate their roles in different areas, by contributing to the hashtag #national_dialogue_on_youth, in a virtual brainstorming session.
Twitter saw a tremendous amount of ideas and suggestions made by individuals of the various segments of the UAE society during for six days since the official launch of the hashtag.
After the conclusion of brainstorming session, the retreat took place. Over two consecutive days, young people met on various discussion tables, to freely engage in dialogue about ideas and suggestions they have. Each table and group represented a particular issue or trend. The suggestions from the hashtag were aggregated and drafted by youth teams, divided by area to be dealt the ideas were addressed in the youth retreat that gathered the youth face to face under one roof. The Retreat received the encouragement of leading and influential figures in the UAE, whom visited the event to monitor its progression, and share their ideas and long-standing expertise with the youth.
In the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, accompanied by his sons, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed and Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed; along with their Highnesses Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed and Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, the youth came out with their special national agenda, Emirati youth agenda.
Emirati youth had effectively participated in the development and formulation of agenda’s ideas. This reflects a strong indicator of youth’s active participation and positive, collaborative communication among themselves.
One of the most important components of the agenda is the policy to activate youth in institutions and ministries. This is to be achieved through specialized councils in which youth speak with experts of from various disciplines, which aims to allow youth to benefit from their expertise.
The Agenda also established global youth councils concerned with access to the world's most important practices and transferring them to the UAE; as well as an interactive platform which gathers government of UAE and youth to work on the initiatives.
The empowerment of youth in the field of entrepreneurship was also key. The national plan includes 63 institutions dedicated to entrepreneurship and the establishment of an advisory council for entrepreneurship. This is in addition a platform for collective financing and a network of youth entrepreneurs, and their empowerment culturally, creatively and in media through the establishment of a youth creativity centre, youth media centre and a youth culture center.
The success of the National Dialogue on Youth is the result of the hard work young Emiratis and UAE leadership put into empowering youth and making the Youth Retreat happen.
The National Dialogue on Youth It may be the key for brainstorming sessions expected in the coming years. Just like a previous national brainstorming session in 2014, in which a number of youths met with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid to discuss education and health in the UAE, along with recommendations for the development of appropriate solutions. Another previous example is the meeting of hundreds which discussed the national reading initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; which was in the desire of the UAE government to develop new methods for the community to engage with leadership in the discussion on major national issues.
His highness wanted brainstorming initiatives to be beyond the ordinary, providing an innovative approach that had yet to be implemented in other states. Focusing on supportive national standards for youth and guiding them towards the right path of leadership and responsibility is because the UAE government sees youth as representing the three basic pillars in building a strong leadership, which are life, hope and future.
Is it possible to see in future that the members of brainstorming initiatives comprise of younger school students? Why not?
The Cabinet meeting, held a few days ago in Fatima Bent Mubarak School in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, was conducted in the presence of a number of outstanding and talented students. These students got the opportunity to meet with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, whom directly engaged with them, in their early age. Another example is the meeting of the Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs with a number of students from universities and educational institutions in 2012 in the forum titled "building political awareness for university students". The aforementioned examples are were two successful and distinct experiments with a purpose of engaging youth of an early age in extraordinary leaders' meetings.
Since the Youth Retreat proved to be successful and its outstanding on the ground, it will succeed without the slightest doubt, with the younger age segment of youth in widening their structure of thinking and introducing a learning experience for leadership values and skills.
It is also an opportunity for them the younger youth age bracket to meet with youth leaders to learn from them and hone their skills into developing a future plan for them down the line, while they develop their understanding of their hopes for the future and what they want to achieve
The younger Emirati youth require moral support and urging to be creative in their actions, so that they could be able to manage themselves, and their future would be clear based on the plans and ambitions. Enabling them to be leaders doing their job to the fullest and abiding by the values of the UAE and their national identity.
Degrees in creativity can also be issued and certified, which could be equivalent to experience certificates in any field of work. This would be most useful for those who have experience in some form of independent business and other activities such as in the field of volunteering or vocational training. For them, an accreditation could to be a starting point for them to work in a work environment that motivates them to be innovative and creative, more than spending time in routine jobs which exasperate their creativity.
We are confident in Emirati youth of all ages, and that the leadership is the leads by example in pioneering and progress, emphasizing the values of a nation that places no ceiling to ambition and possibilities.