Theros Wang Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The UAE affirmed its commitment to helping young people achieve their full potential as it celebrated International Youth Day (IYD) on Sunday, a global event that is marked annually on August 12.

Organised by the United Nations, IYD is focused on raising awareness on key issues and challenges young people face around the world, such as conflicts, poverty and lack of educational opportunities among many others. Working under the theme of ‘Safe Spaces for Youth’, this year’s IYD brought attention on the need to create safe spaces for young people, a place where they could join together without having to fear violence, discrimination and exclusion.

Gulf News spoke to youth from cross section of society in the UAE on this occasion.

“Young people have the ability to be global change makers, we are motivated and have a lot of fresh ideas that we can contribute to helping society and making the world a better place,” said Ali Lari, a 19-year-old Emirati who spoke on the importance of giving young people the chance to have a voice.

“Here in the UAE I am proud to say that our leadership have always been supportive of young people. Ever since I was in school I could always feel the government help for the youth, they have provided us with everything we need to excel. If young people are given the platform to succeed, this will enable us to give back to our country and go on to do great things,” he added.

Tingzuan Zhu, a 20-year-old Chinese student in the UAE, said that young people should never be underestimated in what they could achieve and bring to society.

“Young people are very passionate, we are also very opinionated, open minded, and willing to learn. I think the UAE does a great job in giving a voice and platform for young people to go on to do great things. For example, the country has a minister of youth and it also established a Ministry of Artificial Intelligence.

“It may sound cliché, but we are the future, in around 10 years time we are going to be the predominate ones in society, and so the support we get now will create a big impact when it comes to the future,” she added.

Commenting on some of her main concerns as a young person, Zhu said she is worried about global warming and climate change, as well as political conflicts taking place around the world.

Malcolm Merchant, a 22-year-old Filipino student said he believed one of the main issues young people face today is finding jobs.

“I believe one of the pressing challenges young people face is finding the right job once they graduate, a job that matches their ambitions and what they studied while at university.

“I know a lot of people who studied particular subjects, but once they graduated they got a job that wasn’t necessarily linked to what they were studying because they couldn’t find what they wanted,” he added.

“So when it comes to this area I think there should be a good infrastructure in place along with dedicated resources to help young people find good jobs,” he said.

Theros Wong, a 21-year-old student from Hong Kong said her ambitions was to do what she could to help stop conflicts happening around the world.

“Everyone has the right to live in peace and dignity and an opportunity for a good life. If we look around the world we see a lot of conflicts taking place that are negatively affecting young people. The refugee crisis is just one example, countless of young people are being forced from their homes and being denied a good education.

“As young people I think we can come up with powerful and creative solutions to many of the world problems we see today, we aren’t satisfied with the status quo and have our own ideas on the type of change we want to see. We have our own empowered voice and I believe that’s something we as young people should always remember,” she said.