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Emirati youth can carry on leadership’s vision for UAE, Gargash says

DUBAI // The UAE’s youth have the will, knowledge and culture to carry the vision of the country’s leadership into the future, said Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

Addressing Emirati youth at an open dialogue session to encourage political participation, held at Etihad Museum, Dr Gargash answered questions on the challenges facing the country and the running of the Federal National Council.

“Young Emiratis are well aware of their country’s issues and ideally positioned to implement the directives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces,” Dr Gargash said.

A member of the audience asked the minister how the UAE could regain authority over Abu Musa and the Greater and Less Tunb islands, currently occupied by Iran. Dr Gargash emphasised that the UAE has a right to the islands and will use international law and diplomatic relations to secure their return.

“We should always manage our affairs with wisdom and through correct measures. The UAE is a country that runs its affairs wisely, and the status we have achieved is a result of this approach,” he said.

Mohammed Al Ahmed, a security engineer at the Federal Authority For Nuclear Regulation, asked Dr Gargash if there were risks involved in having too much youth involvement in politics: “Due to recent circumstances in the region, youth developed an interest and knowledge of politics.

“However, young people are known for their impulsiveness, so would this be a positive thing?”

Dr Gargash replied that “it is a good thing for a young person to be informed” but warned against “irresponsible political engagement”, which he blamed for the current turmoil in some Arab countries.

The minister was also asked if there would be an evaluation process for new FNC members to make sure they are productive, and if the minimum educational requirements could be raised to encourage more debate.

Dr Gargash said Emirati voters were the ones to monitor the performance of members because it was in their hands to decide who continued for another term and who did not, while the requirements were deliberately set low so as to be inclusive.

The minister also called upon young Emiratis to vote in FNC elections and stand to become members themselves.

“Their participation is essential to start a dialogue about the cultural and social realities of the UAE,” he said.

“It allows for a better representation of the people and strengthens the sense of patriotism, national duty and dedication to the public interest.

“We want young Emiratis to participate because it is ultimately up to them to build the future of the UAE.”

The session was also attended by Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Tariq Hilal Lootah, undersecretary at the Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs, along with members of the Emirates Youth Council.

“The concern we have seen from the youth is very positive and proves that the message is out there, that a big section of society is concerned with the political process,” said Mr Lootah, adding that he was impressed by how many people were observing the progress and productivity of the FNC.

Dr Gargash reiterated the benefits of political participation.

“Political participation is rooted in our cultural heritage dating back to when the Rulers abided by the concept of ‘Shura’, seeking counsel regarding issues that concern citizens and exploring solutions and policies to meet their political, social and economic needs.”

He also praised the empowerment programme announced by President Sheikh Khalifa on the 34th UAE National Day in 2005, which set a clear road map to ensure a bright future for the country.

Successful elections help to reflect the core values of the ­empowerment programme, said Dr Gargash, and have helped ­establish a culture of volunteering and participation.

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