Abu Dhabi: Half of Abu Dhabi’s population is aged between 15 and 35 years old, and it is this demographic that will determine the emirates’ future, according to a top official.

To give these residents — the youth — a voice, the Department of Community Development Abu Dhabi launched a Social Youth Council in the capital on Monday.

“This Social Youth Council will empower young people and enable them to build a foundation for creativity, innovation and excellence,” said Dr Fahad Al Neyadi, acting undersecretary at the department.

The department oversees social welfare by guiding regulations and projects in housing, special needs, Islamic culture, volunteerism, sport, and family development. It also regularly carries out quality of life surveys, and Dr Al Neyadi said more than a third of 2018 survey respondents, both expat and Emirati, were youth.

“Through the Youth Council, we will have a chance to hear the opinions of the youth on all the areas that we work with, and in turn, incorporate these into our decision making,” he added.

Mawza Al Ali, a member of the newly launched Council, said the group would also equip members with leadership skills and highlight their potential.

Following the launch, the department organised a workshop with potential members of the council to discuss key living standards in the emirate. Emirati persons of determination were also present to shed light on the key opportunities for youth to contribute to community development.

“In the UAE, we have a lot of chances to develop ourselves and better our lives, which is why I believe it is imperative for youth to contribute in any way they can. I use a wheelchair to get around, but I try not to let this limit me from playing an active role in my community,” Hamad Al Hammadi, a 23-year-old Emirati and powerlifting specialist, told Gulf News.