Giving young people a substantial stake in society is the best way to fight extremism, which feeds on lack of hope and opportunity. This means that the best guarantor of any nation's security is sustainable economic and social development, which allows its people to nurture their ambitions and work confidently to see them come to fruition. This is why the UAE has been right to concentrate its efforts on improving education, and increasing individuals' opportunities to seek their ambitions, be they for themselves in private, or in the work place, or in society.
In an important speech at the Manama Dialogue this week, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, spelt out why a nation's security does not depend on military force, or fences and walls. He was blazingly confident that winning hearts and minds was much more important: "We cannot win an ideological war except through changing mindsets. And in order to change mindsets in the region we must demonstrate to people that there are multiple reasons to be optimistic about the future. We must provide positive opportunities for youth, and empower ... women in society, to ensure that all are stakeholders in their society. The UAE believes in this positive, alternative approach to security, and it is the approach we apply to security challenges across our region".
Shaikh Abdullah was also very clear that open engagement with the international community is beneficial to everyone's security. "Whether through sport or trade, culture or political dialogue, international exchange gives people a shared stake in a positive and peaceful future. Greater opportunity for citizens at home, combined with greater understanding and exchange between nations internationally, is the surest way to security". A large part of Shaikh Abdullah's message was that this focus on social development and strong education is the right answer for all countries in the region, not just the UAE.