Abu Dhabi: As Emiratis hold fast to their traditions and customs, they must also learn about other cultures so that they can compete and cooperate with them, said His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Depute Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
“We have wonderful customs and traditions, and we do not want these to be disturbed or corrupted by foreign influences. [At the same time], our objective is to compete with other developed economies, like Finland, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea, and I urge you all to study them,” said Shaikh Mohammad on Wednesday.
He was addressing a 3,000-strong audience of Emirati university students, military servicemen and UAE leaders at the closing ceremony of the Mohammad Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations. The majlis, which wrapped up in the capital, was organised to inspire and engage Emirati youth as they plan for their futures.
“How did these economies get to their current level of development? We need to know this and learn from it so that in the future, UAE companies and organisations can strike winning deals with companies from China to Chile,” he added.
Also present at the closing of the Majlis were Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince; Shaikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council; Lt-General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; shaikhs, ministers, academics and top government officials.
Speaking freely to an enraptured audience, Shaikh Mohammad likened the UAE to a beacon of light in a dark land, saying that the nation is a role model to all its neighbours. He then urged the youth to strive to better their country, even in a post-oil future.
“The last barrel of oil will be pumped in your lifetimes, and with your education and skills, you must then be able to carry forward our flag from a position of strength. Our youth are our real wealth, not the three million barrels of oil we pump every day … and you must be empowered knowing that we have high hopes that you will be better than all your forefathers,” he said.
Shaikh Mohammad said Emirati students should derive strength from the quality of their knowledge and capabilities.
“We do not have the numbers required for development, so we must have the excellence in quality to drive our growth,” he said.
The Abu Dhabi Crown Prince also urged Emirati youth to choose careers they were serious about, and not just opt for fields they liked as hobbies.
“If you do not like your major, change it. But choose something you can develop in professionally,” he advised, adding that engineers and science-based fields would always be needed in the UAE.
Shaikh Mohammad then went on to stress the importance of maintaining Emirati values and customs.
“We have nine million expatriates in the UAE, and widespread access to international media and influences. But while we take the best from other cultures, nothing should take away from our values,” he said. He alluded to Japan, an economy that has long taught its students about national history, ethics and national values, and said this was an example and inspiration for introducing the moral education curriculum at UAE schools.
Shaikh Mohammad then read some excerpts from the new book by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, entitled ‘Reflections on Happiness and Positivity’.
“The worst thing you can do is to wait, as waiting is a waste of time and years, and leads to missed opportunities,” he read. Shaikh Mohammad then said the book was a great source of inspiration and knowledge for him, and would greatly benefit the youth.
Shaikh Mohammad also called upon Emirati youth to be positive ambassadors of the nation at all times.
“As we prepare for Expo 2020, the eyes of the whole world are upon us. Our buildings and architectural marvels should not represent us, our Emirati values should. So we have to be humble and disciplined. As our youth, you must be ideal ambassadors and protect our reputation even when abroad,” he said.