Abu Dhabi: High ranking officials from across the GCC region highlighted the role of society, particularly the youth, in strengthening the country's national identity and development processes to face unforeseen challenges.

During yesterday's conference at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) on Human Resources and Development in the Arabian Gulf, the Minister of Interior, Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, referred to youth as the treasure of a nation and the future for the development of the UAE.

"The youth must be able to face international as well as local challenges and this cannot be fulfilled without investing in their futures," he said in his key-note address.

"I hope that this conference manifests the best approaches and methodologies to maximise the benefit of our human resources. The stability and success of the UAE cannot be fulfilled without capable human beings who have to keep on striving to the best of their capabilities," Shaikh Saif said.

Welcoming the delegates, Director-General of the ECSSR Dr Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi stressed on the importance of human resources, labelling it as the basic pillar of development. He said this was because it required planning and follow-up and was vital in various sectors such as healthcare and education for the development of a country.

He also spoke about the financial crisis resulting in a decrease in the price of oil and shrinking stock markets.

"The financial crisis was unexpected and it is necessary to have more improved economic activities addressed by our human resources, whose mission is human development, and that cannot be done unless a person is trained to face a challenge."

Prince Turki Al Faisal Bin Abdulaziz, chairman of the board of directors of the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies in Saudi Arabia, commended Shaikh Saif's national identity initiative during his speech, stressing that the values of the UAE community must be protected.

"There should be no compromise when it comes to protecting the Arab principals and concepts. Any harm brought to the national identity is a harm brought to the nation. A person with no identity has no presence in the future," said the Saudi official, adding that national identity adds to the progress and effort of a nation.

"The Arab world has many issues in common, whether you are an Emirati, Saudi, Egyptian, Iraqi, we all share a similar history and need to create a national balance between us in an integrated way. "We should come together to promote tolerance, self confidence and to protect our religion and enhance our Arabic language skills further," said Turki.

He also said that political, cultural and educational challenges were hard to attain if one did not possess a vision, saying more challenges would arise. Arab countries are geographically and culturally threatened, facing what Turki called a demographic imbalance.

"If we continue to face geographical and cultural threats, we will soon find ourselves the minorities in our own countries. The demographic stability requires human initiatives among nationals in their own countries," he stressed.

The three-day conference continues over the next two days.