Participants during the national military service partners meeting in Abu Dhabi. The draft strategy shows national service may speed up the Emiratisation drive. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The National Service will act as a positive community development process by enhancing loyalty to the country and boosting its security, in line with the Vision 2021, which aims to make the UAE among the best countries in the world by the Golden Jubilee of the Union, a senior official said yesterday.

“The National Service is a genuine step towards raising the awareness of Emirati youth to national principles, preserving the country’s achievements and strengthening patriotism, as well as boosting discipline,” said Amna Rashid Al Yamahi, head of strategy section at the strategic planning department of the UAE Armed Forces.

Amna was announcing the draft 2015-2017 Strategy for the National Service at the Armed Forces Officers Club in Abu Dhabi.

A law introducing mandatory military service for all Emiratis aged between 18 and 30 and setting up a new national defence and reserve force was endorsed by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in June.

Emirati men who have finished secondary school or aged between 18 and 30 have to serve nine months, while those who have not served two years. The service is optional for women, who may be trained for nine months, regardless of their education, according to the law.

The draft strategy states that three batches of about 5,000 to 7,000 conscripts will be enrolled every year to build the national reserve forces.

Amna said the service will instil in young people qualities such as discipline, vigilance, resilience and modesty. “It will lead Emiratis to have a stronger sense of responsibility towards their nation and also a greater awareness of the challenges facing the UAE by training them to be ready to fight, to protect the nation and preserve its independence and sovereignty from any external attack,” she said.

The draft strategy shows the national service may speed up the national drive of Emiratisation in the country, through increased youth employment.

The national service will make Emiratis more competitive in the job market where they can be taught skills and educated to a higher level regardless of social background, according to the draft strategy of the service.

“While some of today’s youths may be directionless, the service will give them a sense of purpose and identity. It would teach them valuable skills, both vocational and social,” Amna said.

She said the national service will promote unity and solidarity and improve the national physical health too.

Asserting the concept of conscription has long been established in the UAE constitution, Amna said the national service will certainly enhance the UAE’s defence capabilities and raise the self-confidence of its youth.

“Enhancing the country’s defence capabilities will provide a level of security and stability that will be of great benefit to the nation and the continuation of its successful developmental path in accordance with its Vision 2021,” Amna said.

The draft strategy of the national service states the concept of national security is not confined to strategic and military dimensions of effective responses to potential threats against a particular state. “It also relates to encompass economic, environmental, cultural and other aspects, ensuring the stability, growth and prosperity of society,” it says.

Lieutenant General (retd) Markku Koli, Advisor to General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said the UAE aims to achieve outstanding national service, beyond comparison with other countries.

Koli, former Finland’s Chief of Defence Command, added the benchmark nations for UAE in military conscription works are Finland, Singapore and South Korea.

“The UAE, however, looks forward to achieving more comprehensive national, political, security and socio-economic goals of the national military service,” said Koli, who was Finland Defence Forces’ second in command and party to the nation’s most sensitive preparedness plans and led the cyber warfare effort and joint projects with the US armed forces.