For women, the voluntary training will last for nine months, regardless of their qualifications. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: More than 9,000 citizens, comprising the first batch of Emirati recruits, started the national service induction training on August 31.

“This day will go down in the annals of history as it’s the first time that mandatory military service has been introduced in the UAE,” said Major General Shaikh Ahmad Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, chairman of the National and Reserve Service Authority.

A law passed earlier this year requires all men to enlist at some point between the ages of 18 and 30. The service is optional for women.

The length of service is set to be two years for those without high school degrees, and nine months for those who have graduated from high school.

For women, the voluntary training will last for nine months, regardless of their qualifications.

Shaikh Ahmad said national service is meant to engage all members of Emirati society in serving their homeland.

“The training will shape the behaviour of young men and women through discipline and acculturation into the military system,” Shaikh Ahmad added.

Shaikh Ahmad stressed the national service also aims to turn the Emirati community into a strategic asset of the armed forces and empower more young leaders.

“The service includes a wide range of significant training courses aimed at helping these young recruits develop their creative skills and capabilities to take part in meaningful and effective community engagements,” Shaikh Ahmad said.

The national service, Shaikh Ahmad said, will have a positive impact on the lives of young Emiratis. “The Armed Forces have a moral duty towards this young generation and we devote our time and efforts to play an important role to empower them and provide them with the necessary skills that would enable them to give back to their country and create a positive social impact,” he said.

Shaikh Ahmad said during the first three weeks, recruits will receive a series of induction training and lectures that will explain what they can expect to experience during national service training.

The induction for women will last for two weeks. Following the induction period, recruits will be given a weekly rest and once they are distributed to the specialised units, their hours of duty will be that of the Armed Forces.

According to the federal draft law, the protection of UAE, its independence and sovereignty represent a sacred national duty for each Emirati.

It said that the national service will “polish youth personalities and boost national spirit to meet future challenges”.

The UAE announced plans to introduce compulsory military service in January.