Two social aspects such as rising unemployment and a large percentage of youth among the general population sooner or later create the issue of lack of youth empowerment in the social and economic spheres. The UAE authorities also faced this phenomenon, which led to a large-scale policy of the comprehensive empowerment of young people in the areas of state participation and management.
This literature review includes an overview of articles related to the status of young people as leaders and the influence of the environment on this process. It also presents youth empowerment programs undertaken by the authorities, private entrepreneurs, and other countries. At the end of this literature review, a general summary will be presented, and the reason for the need for research on the empowerment of the young generation will be highlighted.
Youth are The Future Leaders of UAE
Of course, young people are heirs to the achievements of past generations, as well as responsible for their preservation and growth. The indicators of youth in the UAE population and growing socioeconomic problems that can be resolved only by those whom they affect are the answers to the question of why youth are the future leaders. A study by Daleure and Shareef (2015) confirms it, “to date, double-digit Emirati youth unemployment has plagued the UAE even though it is a regional economic leader…” (p. 3). For successful overall social and economic empowerment, the young part of the community needs leadership.
Al-Qaiwani defined the term of administration in the context of UAE government organizations. According to Al-Qaiwani (2017), “thus, leadership can be considered the art of managing people in a way that transforms their actions into constructive and measurable results” (p. 20). Therefore, youth empowerment policy in the Middle East countries should be implemented by the state to create a competitive environment.
The Role of Environment in Youth Empowerment
The environment plays a significant role in the implementation of any policy regarding youth, especially its empowerment. According to Ali (2019), “…many civil society organizations are funded by regional or international actors who may intend to disturb the country’s security and stability” (p. 13). Therefore, it is the state that is obliged to carry out such reforms to ensure both personal interests and the interests of the whole society. Chan et al. (2019) state that ensuring the enhancement of processes by the state contributes to the legitimacy of educational methods, the safety of youth, and the complete freedom of self-realization of young people. Al-Badayneh et al. (2015) also agree with the significance of the factor of the state’s influence on youth and the need to adopt a competent youth integration policy. However, what principle and theoretical basis underpin the UAE policy on youth empowerment?
UAE Authorities’ Youth Empowerment Theory
To respond to the research topic of how UAE authorities promote management and public administration participation among youth, it is necessary to study the theoretical component. For example, researchers note that often both public and private organizations in the UAE use the capacity building theory as a fundamental approach to youth empowerment. According to Alaali and Rees (2019), “…Capacity Building strategies, such as Bahrainisation, Emiratisation, Saudisation, and Omanisation, are intended to reduce reliance on expatriate labor by developing the local workforce and providing employment opportunities…” (p. 82).
Researchers also studied the reason for choosing this selected methodology for youth empowerment. According to Alaali and Rees (2019), “the responses obtained from the interviewees reflect that both education and training were seen by the respondents, without exception, to play a crucial developmental role in Capacity Building…” (p. 85). As the examples studied by researchers show, which will be discussed below, this approach shows significant results both within the state and at the international level.
UAE Authorities’ Youth Empowerment
Youth Empowerment Programs under the Vision 2021
As various sources show, the UAE government is most interested and fully approaches the issue of youth empowerment in managerial and leadership qualities. In addition, all those initiatives, programs, and events that are studied and analyzed in various sources are included in the global program Vision 2021, which is aimed at restructuring the economy and society of the UAE. As the articles over the past decade show, the UAE has implemented a number of comprehensive programs to promote youth in the governance of the country.
|Initiative, Program, or Meeting||Description|
|The Conduct and Ethics of the Emirati Citizen||Issued at the beginning of the decade, it contains new ethical and behavior rules aimed at developing strong patriotic feelings among young people (“Youth,” 2020).|
|Khalifa Empowerment Program||The goal was to increase the importance of youth in the community and their implementation in social (“Who are we,” 2019).|
|Emirates Foundation||The aim is to“provide a comprehensive range of programs aimed at empowering, inspiring and supporting our youth and facilitating positive social change” (“Programs,” 2020, para. 1).|
|The appointment of Shamma bint Sohail Faris Al Mazrui as the Minister of State for Youth Affairs||The initiative went so that the Prime Minister of the UAE demanded that the universities of the UAE choose the best students who would later become the future ministers (“Youth,” 2020). Al Mazrui, from the very beginning, actively participates in the political processes of the state and is also an activist of women’s rights (“My story is a message,” 2016).|
|Mandatory Membership in the Board of Directors||The UAE Cabinet made the decision to include at least one permanent participant in each governmental management department (“Youth,” 2020). Young leaders are provided with three-year training, participation in leadership processes, and as a result of which they should offer their solutions to current state problems.|
|New 2016 UAE Cabinet||The new administration includes several new young and innovative members, the main feature of which is that the prevailing number of them is women (“Khalifa Approves,” 2016). Also, the new office included a number of new posts, each of which is responsible for current problems and trends. It is important to note that “the new government has seen the addition of ministers for Tolerance, the Future, Youth, Happiness and Climate Change” (“Khalifa Approves,” 2016, para. 3).|
|Youth Hub Integration||Youth Hub meetings were held to develop leadership skills, youth representation within the UAE and internationally. It is important to note that “the Hub will be the platform to connect Youth to each other, bounce thoughts back and forth, and launch-spring their ideas” (“Welcome to the best Youth Hub,” 2017, para. 2). Along with educational sessions, the Youth Hub also presents a number of free entertainment programs whose purpose was to develop acquaintances in the youth community.|
|Al Mazrui’s 100-Day Program||The Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Al Mazrui established this unique 100-day program. Researchers note that this initiative has contributed to building relationships between youth organizations and associations and government institutions (Wam, 2016). They also emphasized that the most notable aspect of the described action was the Nine Circles, which made it possible to foster direct dialogue between the youth community and the UAE administration.|
|Youth Index National Survey||It serves to collect information on the well-being of youth, which includes indicators such as financial status, employment, degree of participation in public and state activities (“Youth,” 2020). The article shows the Youth Index successfully identified those emirates where the role of youth is the least significant and promoted the stimulation of the comprehensive development of youth policy.|
|Launch of the Youth Empowerment Strategy (YES)||Two UAE government departments launched a unique Youth Empowerment Strategy, namely YES. The creators of this strategy set as their goal the development of cooperation of both the youth community and representatives of the country’s leadership (“Youth,” 2020). The article states that results were the creation of new channels of opportunities for the development of youth skills, including leadership, as well as a comprehensive analysis of the state of youth in the UAE.|
|Arab Youth Initiative||During the Arab Youth Initiative, the UAE organized an appropriate center that, like the other programs described above, provided opportunities for young people to participate in the national transformation of the country. The event was aimed at training and the formation of many qualities of young people, including leadership ones, both local and national level (“Youth,” 2020).|
|Youth Shura Consultative Council||It was one of the first signs of the emerging global policy on the national empowerment of youth. It also was one of the first significant events regarding the introduction of youth communities into the political and social life of the UAE and developing their administrative skills and leadership knowledge (“Youth,” 2020). Youth Shura Consultative Council was approved and launched personally by the highest authorities of the UAE government.|
|The UAE Youth Delegate Program to the United Nations||The UAE authorities promote youth participation in the international arena, especially at its most significant dialogue platform, namely the General Assembly of the United Nations. The UAE Government provides an opportunity for young people to be delegates on behalf of youth to represent and disclose their interests in the aspect of the global component of the policy (Al Zaabi, 2019). The author highlights the delegate who made the speech in which she mentioned the first satellite created by a group of scientists from the UAE, which is also entirely composed of youth.|
|National Innovation Policy and STEM education||The UAE authorities pay special attention to the empowerment of the female part of the young public, especially in the aspect of the space industry in the framework of STEM education. The article by Alblooshi and May (2018) shows that the integrated National Innovation Policy has increased the percentage of the female community in the study of the technical sciences. This study also shows the significant contribution of young women to the aerospace industry.|
|Hazza Al Mansoori, the First UAE Astronaut||The UAE’s participation in the international space program and Hazzaa Ali AlMansoori’s flight into space.|
New and Young Minister of State for Youth Affairs
It can be seen that the fundamental goal of such innovations was to achieve changes in the political, social, and economic moods of the UAE community to ensure the welfare of its citizens. Studies indicate an extremely active stance of young people participating in the programs (“Youth,” 2020). Most studies show that the turning point and real youth policy of Vision 2021 began precisely from the moment Shamma bint Sohail Faris Al Mazrui entered the position (“My story is a message,” 2016). Along with her ministerial position, she is also the leader of the Youth Council (“Youth,” 2020).
The overview shows that the implementation of this initiative has contributed to the local, regional, and international growth of the status of both the UAE government in particular and the country as a whole.
However, research studies of these programs also show negative results. For example, about UAE programs for youth in STEM education, most young people still prefer other professions, especially those related to the public sector (Forawi, 2017). Other researchers argue that the social reform of youth policies that were presented above only affects a small percentage of youth (Lee & Mirza, 2017). Initiatives’ articles focus more on achieving positive results and ignore existing shortcomings.
Official sources highlight Hazzaa Ali AlMansoori’s flight into space as the symbolic peak and moment of glory of the policy of the UAE authorities on the empowerment of youth in management and state participation. Researchers note that he is also a successful representative of youth in the military sector, being the youngest pilot of the F-16, one of the most advanced combat aircraft (“Hazzaa Ali AlMansoori,” 2019).
The article also describes Hazzaa Ali AlMansoori’s significant practical flight experience. After numerous tests and preparations, he went into space last fall and he proved the absolute personal success and phenomenal effectiveness of the UAE youth policy (“Hazzaa Ali AlMansoori,” 2019). As the literature review related to government measures on youth empowerment shows, the UAE authorities achieve significant economic and social results every year. However, questions of a qualitative nature regarding data on employment and participation in local administrative management remain poorly studied.
Non-Government and Private Youth Empowerment
Youth Empowerment in UAE Private Schools
In addition to UAE political events, programs, and initiatives, private individuals, especially private schools, also take measures in matters of youth empowerment in public participation. The author explores one of such steps, namely the service-learning program for the personal development of local students in Dubai (Thabet, 2018). In her research on such a topic, Thabet (2018) used techniques such as triangulation and semi-structured interviews. The researcher achieved such results as the described private program helps to improve the social skills of youth, both leadership and teamwork, and the development of patriotic views.
Youth Empowerment in UAE Resource Industry
Representatives of the business sphere are also interested in changes in work ethics in the direction of youth empowerment. As the study conducted by Al-Ameri et al. (2019) shows, the introduction of empowerment by providing administrative powers to employees enhances workplace efficiency as well as their overall self-sufficiency. However, to fully ensure the background of the upcoming study, a review of the international practice of local government policy on youth empowerment is also necessary.
Youth Empowerment in Other Countries
For the authority and competence of the study, it is also important to give examples of youth empowerment programs in other countries. One such example is a similar initiative by the Cape Town authorities, the study of which was conducted by Pekeur. The study covers five years and uses as a method of purposively sampling technique (Pekeur, 2017). Her work contains an assessment and analysis of youth empowerment, including both the participation of members of youth and mentoring social groups (Pekeur, 2017).
Pekeur (2017) states that the youth leadership development program has a positive effect, contributes to youth awareness of employment methods in both the entrepreneurial and administrative fields. The author claims in the conclusion that representatives of the younger generation need further government guidance and support (Pekeur, 2017). Another highlighted positive effect is that such programs and initiatives help to improve the psychological aspect of young people. The study of other similar international efforts is significant in terms of a comparative approach in the framework of the research.
Domestic politics and the environment play a critical role in shaping youth as future leaders, as reviewed articles show. The literature review also reveals that UAE’s primary theoretical approach to youth empowerment is capacity building. More than ten thematic articles on youth empowerment were reviewed, which dealt with various aspects of society, both general, such as social and economic, as well as separate, like space. The success of the youth policy of private schools and business companies was also noted in the context of introducing young people into management. Cape Town authorities are also showing significant positive changes, albeit on a smaller scale, but their reforms require further improvements.
However, all the studies reviewed do not answer the questions about how and what particular activities affect the growth of the employment rate and youth participation in the UAE’s domestic policy. Further research on youth empowerment is needed to examine the active participation of young people in the politics of local and local administrative authorities, such as city and regional government. Research is also needed on the correlation of government measures for youth empowerment and employment ratings.
Alaali, L., & Rees, C. J. (2019) Capacity building, human resource development (HRD) and bahrainisation: Perceptions of senior public sector employees in Bahrain. International Journal of HRD Practice, Policy and Research 2019, 4(1), 81-90. Web.
Al-Ameri, J., Isaac, O., Bhaumik, A., & Al-Shibami, A. H. (2019). Impact of power delegation and peer learning on self-sufficient within oil and gas industrial sector in UAE. Engineering & Management, 81, 1947-1952.
Al-Badayneh, D. M., Al-Assasfeh, R. A., & Al-Bhri, N. A. (2016). Social causes of Arab youth radicalizing. Journalism, 6(12), 743-756.
Alblooshi, H. A., & May, L. (2018). Engaging women to study STEM through empowerment: A case from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In 2018 IEEE Aerospace Conference (pp. 1-5). IEEE.
Ali, M. (2019). Youth empowerment towards political change. Egyptian Institute for Studies, 7, 1-22. Web.
Al-Qaiwani, O. S. A. (2017). Employee engagement and leadership in a UAE governmental organization. BSpace. The British University in Dubai (BUiD) Digital Repository. Web.
Al Zaabi, M. (2019). Youth shaping the future: An Emirati perspective on youth empowerment. Wilson Center. Web.
Chan, W. Y., Sloan, J., & Chandra, A. (2019). Promoting youth well-being through health and education: Insights and opportunities. WISE. Web.
Daleure, G., & Al Shareef, Z. (2015). Exploring under-representation of young Emirati adults in the UAE private sector by examining Emirati job satisfaction (Working Paper No. 9). Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research. Web.
Forawi, S. A. (Eds.). (2017). STEM career aspirations of Emirati youth. International Conference on Education, Humanities and Management (ICEHM-17). Higher Education and Innovation Group. Web.
Hazzaa Ali AlMansoori. (2019). Web.
Khalifa Approves the new 12th Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates. (2016). Emirates News Agency. Web.
Lee, S., & Mirza, C. (2017). Fostering a rise in youth social entrepreneurship in the Arabian Peninsula: From policy to implementation. In S. Bastien & H. B. Holmarsdottir (Eds.), Youth as architects of social change (pp. 97-120). Palgrave Macmillan.
My story is a message to the youth that nothing is impossible in the UAE, says youngest minister in UAE Cabinet. (2016). Emirates News Agency. Web.
Pekeur, J. (2017). An assessment of the City of Cape Town’s Youth Development Policy, with reference to youth leadership development: A case study of Scottsdene, Kraaifontein for the period 2008-2013. University of the Western Cape. Web.
Programs. (2020). Emirates Foundation. Web.
Thabet, R. (2018). Youth empowerment towards social responsibility through service-learning program: An exploratory analysis of a private high school in Dubai, United Arab of Emirates. Revista INFAD de Psicología. International Journal of Developmental and Educational Psychology, 4(1), 329-342.
Wam. (2016). Mohammed approves UAE youth engagement strategy. Emirates 24/7. Web.
Welcome to the best youth hub in the world. (2017). Federal Youth Authority. Web.
Who are we. (2019). Khalifa Empowerment Program. Web.
Youth. (2020). The United Arab Emirates’ Government portal. Web.