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UAE should think beyond mega projects and invest in youth, minister says

A nation’s future depends on its young people, Noura Al Kaabi told a forum in Riyadh on Thursday.

The Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs spoke at Unesco’s International Forum of NGOs about the importance of investing in youth for the country’s future.

“Investing in young citizens is a wise insurance policy for a better, brighter tomorrow,” she said. “The youth are not only the leaders of the future. They are the ones who will build it.”

She called on governments to start a conversation with young citizens. “We must reach them on their terms, where they feel most comfortable, and tackle the subjects that matter most to them,” she said.

“Besides educating young people and preparing them for their future occupations, governments must also entice them to take initiative and work not only for the financial returns, but for the sheer value of it.”

Youth make up more than 50 per cent of the UAE population, compared with 25 per cent in other advanced countries.

“The UAE’s initiatives encourage young people to play a part in their country’s development and the progress of the region,” Ms Al Kaabi said.

“Governments [should] develop volunteer programmes that help them tap in to the energy and enthusiasm of young citizens, while allowing the volunteers to gain invaluable experience that shapes their character and moulds them into industrious, resourceful and altruistic citizens.”

Saeed Al Nofeli, a 34-year-old Emirati from Abu Dhabi said the UAE leadership was pushing to support its citizens.

“I have noticed the Ministry of Education has started refining the education system to prepare the youth,” he said.

“The introduction of modern skills like programming, entrepreneurship and innovation will create a paradigm shift.”

Hessa Al Balooshi, a 22-year-old Emirati from Abu Dhabi, said she felt safe in the hands of her country’s leadership.

“Some of the new ministers are young and I feel they can really relate to us,” she said.

“Our future depends on us so we need to make sure we are well prepared for it.”

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The National