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The Young Must Work for Success, Like Their Parents

Published on: May 2008​
Genre: Youth​ Category: Op eds​

As an Emirati woman, I have a strong sense of pride in being a UAE national – a pride that also seems to resonate among all Emirati youth. The unprecedented growth of the UAE has provided us with a lot to be proud of: from investment in the local population to political stability in a region of unrest. In just four decades, the UAE has marked itself as a nation apart from the surrounding political arena and developed its own unique success story, which in turn has engendered a sense of well-being among its population.

In a country as young as ours, which has set a development template for the entire region – if not the world – the massive investment in the local population is fostering an unfaltering sense of national pride and identity. The problem is that many of our youth today seem to be taking much for granted and not enough advantage of the resources that are provided for them.

Those in the generation before us, men and women alike, worked hard for their success. They have proved themselves a generation of high achievers, whether as Government ministers, members of the Federal National Council, entrepreneurs or business executives steering the nation towards continued development and limitless possibilities.

Many of these leaders started from the very bottom, working flat out to get to where they are today, and providing first rate examples of the unlimited achievements that can be accomplished by effort and dedication. The question my generation – the generation that has been presented with every opportunity, and on a silver platter, too – has to ask itself is: can we expect such strong leadership to emerge without the presence of this bottom-up approach? Can we change the mindset of the youth of the Emirates to match the mindset of those who have preceded us?

It is unquestionable that if we can capitalise on the opportunities that have been presented to us, that if we look to obtaining successful jobs (in whatever field we choose to pursue) as a privilege rather than a right, we shall be able to achieve the same kind of success as our parents and grandparents.

Many policies and services have been specifically directed at ensuring and securing the personal growth and development of young Emiratis. This displays the belief and political willingness for encouraging another generation of high achievers. The proliferation of entrepreneurship grants and awards, a multitude of government and privately funded scholarships and (if one prefers to stay in the country) the presence of renowned academic institutions and learning centres, are just a fraction of what is currently being provided in terms of services and institutional access to the local population.

If it becomes too expensive for a person to study overseas, then free top-level tuition is provided at local higher education institutions such as the Higher Colleges of Technology, Zayed University, the UAE University and many others. Even though there is still some way to go in terms of increasing funding into such areas as scientific research and the liberal arts, slow but sure steps are being taken, for instance by creating arts scholarships and providing support for those with creative talent.

Opportunities are also widely available to young Emirati women, and we are not excluded from developing our careers in any occupation or field because of our gender. Women in the UAE occupy important positions as pilots, judges, engineers and top level executives. We are well represented in the fields of health, education, and social and economic development, not to mention in the upper echelons of Government.

Emirati women also make up the bulk of the graduates (70 per cent are female) from local institutions of higher learning. There has also been a quadrupling of the percentage of working Emirati women from 4.5 per cent in 1995 to 16.1 per cent in 2004. Thus, gender no longer seems to be an obstacle to an Emirati woman’s career development.

With UAE nationals forming only 20 per cent of the gross population of the country, competition should be relatively low and distribution of grants and scholarships fair. So with just a modicum of effort on our part as young Emirati citizens, success should be easily achievable.

To say that the current generation of Emiratis are a privileged bunch is a colossal understatement – ours is the generation of endless possibilities. Who can stand in the way of our development other than ourselves? We must make use of all that the country and our parents have provided to maximise our potential. We should not take for granted the unlimited opportunities that are on offer; it is the least we can do.

Huda Sajwani is a Research Associate at the Dubai School of Government.

This article was originally printed in The National, and can be accessed here

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