The make-up of the new UAE cabinet shows an impressive commitment to ensuring that women and younger people become a part and parcel of the structure of the government.
In a country where 65 per cent of the Emirati population is under 25 years old, and half of the Emirati women are grossly under-represented in public life, it is very important that the average age of the new ministers is only 38, and that five out of the eight new appointments are women.
This shows a refreshing willingness to look for new talent to serve the country and its people and build a cabinet that is willing to work and make a difference as it looks ahead to prepare to face new challenges that have not yet even emerged.
Amongst the many changes in the structure of the new cabinet, it is worth noting that the new team of ministers with united responsibility for both school and higher education have an especially demanding task, as they will reshape the country’s curriculum and teaching so that the new generation of young Emiratis will grow up well-equipped with the critical thinking and sense of innovation that will be essential for the UAE to survive and prosper in the next century.
The new united ministry of education will also not have to micro-manage the schools in its charge as a new independent authority will be created to manage the schools, allowing fresher and more responsive management that can be delivered by ministry officials.
The cabinet has been tasked to look at a range of soft topics that very few governments have made central to their thinking. The new minsters for future, youth, happiness and tolerance have portfolios that obviously have to be combined with the work of all the other ministries to ensure that their values are maintained throughout the work of the entire range of government services. It was also significant that the new minister of tolerance was asked to play a regional role and not just a local one.
This is one instance of how the UAE expects to take a leadership position in the region through the example of what it does domestically, offering itself as a model that others can follow. It is not seeking to dominate through military power or through commercial hegemony, but instead is offering the region a new way forward based on the timeless value of tolerance and rule of law, and focusing on the well-being of its people.