Abu Dhabi: Emiratis welcomed the compulsory military service as “an honour and a sacred duty”, with Emirati youth and senior citizens alike displaying their earnest wish to contribute to the advancement of their country through their own individual betterment.

They said they recognise exactly what behooves them, and are appropriately passionate about it.

Dr Mona Al Bahar, a member of the Federal National Council from Dubai, said were it possible, she herself would volunteer for military training, where she — and all other recruits — would be trained in sharpshooting, weapons technology, hand-to-hand combat, self-defence, and other disciplinary skills, both physically and psychologically.

Males between the ages of 18 and 30 would be required to enlist; the proposed length of duty is nine months for those with high school degrees and above, and two years for those with education below high school level. Female admission would be voluntary.

Dr Theodore Karasik. Director, Research and Development, Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said compulsory military service in the UAE is highly significant. “First, the UAE armed forces need to be Emirati, not a collection of foreign military personnel. Second, is the issue of duty and honour to the UAE,” Dr Karasik explained.

He added that over the past decade, and the decades to come, the UAE is and will make further achievements on a wide scale. “These successes must be protected by a robust force of current and future generations of Emiratis in order to safe guard the Federation’s 21st century innovations and business acumen,” Dr Karasik said.

Dr karasik concluded military conscription guarantees a future generation of leaders who will be able to lead the UAE in a unified manner that helps to solidify and cement the very roots of Emirati society based on the values instilled by the founding father of the UAE, Shaikh Zayed.

The UAE Cabinet on Sunday approved compulsory military service for Emirati men aged between 18 and 30. The service will be optional for women.

‘Message of peace’

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, made the announcement on Twitter on Sunday.

Shaikh Mohammad said: “Our message to the world is a message of peace; the stronger we are, the stronger our message.”

The draft law needs to be passed by the Federal National Council before it is finally approved by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Shaikh Mohammad said a reserve force for the UAE will be made up of those who have completed their national service, as well as members of the military who have finished their service in the armed forces.

In November, Qatar’s government made a similar move approving a draft law mandating men in the Gulf state to do military service.

Under the legislation, Qatari men aged between 18 and 35 must serve in the military for three months if they are graduates, and four months if they are not.

Kuwait is debating the reintroduction of compulsory military service, cancelled after the Iraqi army invaded the state in 1990 and occupied it for seven months.

Compulsory military service is not applied in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman, which rely on professional armies in their defence.

Ali Jasem, a veteran member of the FNC, while welcoming the move as a way aimed at mobilising citizens for the defence of their country, said compulsory military training was extremely overdue.

“The military service will help young Emiratis to rely on themselves and be prepared for defending their beloved country,” Jasem said.

Jasem suggested that even senior citizens should be allowed to undertake military training voluntarily. “Each and every citizen should be granted the honour of defending their country at all times,” Jasem said.

Ali Eissa Al Nuaimi, also a member of the FNC, said compulsory military service will benefit the young and the old in line with teachings of Islam.