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UAE Introduces Mandatory Military Service

Jan. 19, 2014 - 03:00PM   |  
By AWAD MUSTAFA   |   Comments
Emirati troops march during celebrations
Emirati troops march during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the United Arab Emirates in at 2011. The country introduced mandatory military service for men between ages 18 to 30 on Sunday. (Karim Sahib / Getty Images)
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DUBAI — The UAE became the second nation in the Gulf Cooperation Council on Sunday to introduce a mandatory military service for men.

The military service will include men between the ages of 18 to 30 for a minimum nine-month period according to UAE vice president and prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

Furthermore, President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan ordered a bill for the establishment of a new national defense and reserve force.

Sheikh Mohammed stated on his Twitter account that the new law will require all males who have finished secondary school or are between the ages of 18 to 30 to undergo military training, while females may opt out.

“The new law aims to put together a new national defence, in order to protect the homeland and its borders and its resources and gains,” Bin Rashid tweeted.

UAE nationals who have finished secondary school will be required to serve nine months, while those without a diploma will serve for two years, the new law stipulates. The National Defense and Reserve Force (NDRF) will be made up of those who have completed their national service and military personnel who have retired from service in the armed forces.

“Protecting the nation and preserving its independence and sovereignty is a sacred national duty. The new law will apply to everyone,” the vice president added.

The move signifies greater concerns of GCC states in regards to an array of threats, said Matthew Hedges, an analyst at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis. “The creation of mandatory service in the UAE armed forces will create a large national force ready to change the balance of war when the situation arises,” he said.

“The UAE will join a number of states with national conscription and reservist forces and as experience has shown, it is often the introduction of reservists that can alter the balance of war in a favorable way.”

The recent announcement will also help promote virtuous behavior and encourage national pride through shared experiences, Hedges added.

“This will further help empower Emiratis to be more competitive in the job market where, through national service, they can be taught skills and educated to a higher level regardless of social background.”

The announcement will help foster greater national unity and raise the security awareness of the Emirati population, placing greater responsibility on the UAE population to combat any threat faced to the nation, Hedges said.

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