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Dubai Abulhoul: Integrating Emirati youth in the Federal National Council
October 03, 2016
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Exclusive to The Gulf Today

Earlier this week, the #NationalYouthDialogue was launched to invite young people across the UAE to share their opinions and suggestions on what the Government could do to empower and heighten their role in the shaping of the country’s future. Emirati youth continue to be presented, on a daily basis, with new opportunities that enable them to excel in different institutions and across different fields. It is important, however, to place more emphasis on increasing Emirati youth’s civic engagement in the country, particularly through the Federal National Council, by giving them a voice within the federal authority itself. Promoting the importance of Emirati youth’s civic engagement will, in return, strengthen their role in the building of their country’s future.

As established by the country’s Constitution, the Federal National Council is one of the UAE’s five federal authorities. Its first session was opened on 2 December 1972, with an official mandate to provide for public debate of legislation. The federal authority is made up of 40 members, half of which are elected by an electoral college system, and the other half are appointed by the Ruler’s Court of the UAE’s seven emirates. Integrating youth in the affairs of the Federal National Council is a vital next step, given that the future the Council discusses is the reality that young Emiratis will one day live in. The Federal National Council should look into adopting a programme that can act as a bridge between the younger generation’s interests and the federal authority’s aspirations.

FNC Youth, as a suggested programme, can adopt the exact same bureaucratic, procedural, and voting structure as the Federal National Council. The programme can introduce the younger generation to the internal bureaucracy of the Federal National Council, and give them the platform to debate the issues that the federal authority tackles on a daily basis. It would be interesting to see how different, or even similar, the opinions of the youth are on the topics that are debated by the Federal National Council. FNC Youth can do what international Model United Nations initiatives have done successfully across the world, which is introduce the structure and functionality of an entity or an organisation that the youth will one day be a part of and lead. Once the 40 members of FNC Youth are selected, they will begin their work alongside the members of the Federal National Council. They will be present in weekly debates with the other members, and then convene on their own to discuss the issues from the youth’s point of view. A report from FNC Youth can be presented to the Federal National Council after each major debate that is discussed among the members of the federal authority.

The launch, and development, of such a programme will raise the youth’s awareness on the country’s most pressing issues, and enable them to offer solutions to challenges the Federal National Council faces on a daily basis. Young people will get the chance to engage in constructive dialogues surrounding the Federal National Council’s debates and ministerial discussions, while at the same time acting as advocates for the federal authority’s affairs among the youth. Efforts in increasing Emirati youth’s civic engagement through the Federal National Council will effectively train future candidates, and more importantly, help build a generation that is more aware of its country’s social, national, and economic aspirations, needs, and developments.

The author is an emirati novelist-writer

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