ABU DHABI // “You are better than us and you have to be better than us – there is no option, you have to be better than your fathers and grandfathers.”
With these words, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed urged youths to learn skills that will make them globally competitive.
The UAE will need generations of young engineers and scientists as it shifts from oil towards a knowledge-based economy, said Sheikh Mohammed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
“The UAE is going through a stage where the key component of our economy, which is oil, is coming to an end,” he said at the Mohammed bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations.
“This will happen in your lifetime, not mine, which is why we need to secure our homeland from now. We bet the UAE will be No 1 with your education, and we will not settle for No 2.”
Sheikh Mohammed said the future would bring new and complex challenges but that the country was ready to plough resources into education.
“Those who take the lead take it by doing three things,” he said. “First, science to be able to manoeuvre; second, knowledge to be able to heavily invest in education; and third, a very wise leadership with a clear vision and a roadmap to the right direction.”
Today’s students are a very important generation and a source of pride for the country, Sheikh Mohammed said. “The knowledge you have in this generation and the technology you are learning have to be the best in the world.
“We have to ensure the new generation is equipped with knowledge and science so they can represent our competitive advantage in front of the whole world. Our only choice is quality.”
Sheikh Mohammed spoke of engineering as one of the most vital skills for tomorrow’s UAE.
“We need engineering, we cannot have enough of it,” he said. “A career should be a profession, not a hobby.
“Although we live in an unstable region that has challenges and different viewpoints, I am very optimistic by nature and I believe that the UAE today is more like a light that illuminates a dark land.
“You are the real wealth, not the 3 million barrels of oil. You are the future of this nation’s security and safety net. We are in a good condition now but we want to establish the vision for 50 years ahead.
“I am certain from what I have witnessed from my simple interaction with bright minds and hopeful optimistic faces that we are betting on the right people and the right generation for the future of the UAE.”
He said learning was not always linked to age, rather to hard work.
“There are so many other people on the other side of the world and it is not a bad thing to learn from them. We should know about other cultures, customs and traditions because, 25 years from now in your generation, you will have to deal with other countries to make our own Emirati companies profitable.”
Young Emiratis were called upon to act like ambassadors representing their country.
“We should never be arrogant when it comes to the reputation of our country and anything positive you do is an Emirati deed, so all of us are responsible for shaping, introducing and projecting a positive image of the UAE.”