NEW YORK – At the plenary meeting of the Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Committee – otherwise known as the Third Committee – of the UN General Assembly on 2 October 2019, the UAE’s youth delegates to the UN underlined the importance of empowering young people to participate in the decision-making process – a key priority for the UAE.

The statement was delivered by Ms. Maryam Belhoul and Mr. Ahmad Al Zarooni, the UAE’s youth delegates for 2019, who are tasked with representing the young people of the UAE at the UN. They celebrated the UAE’s Hazza Al Mansouri – who made history by becoming the first Arab astronaut in space on 25 September 2019. They noted that the UAE’s investment in its youth was critical in making their ambition to travel to space a reality.

In their statement, the delegates outlined the four key priorities of the UAE National Youth Agenda, along with other initiatives, policies and strategies that the UAE has implemented, to empower young people. They highlighted the UAE’s recently-adopted policy which ensures that the voice of youth is heard at the federal level by having at least one young Emirati, under the age of 30, on the board of directors for any government entity. This is in addition to the establishment of Youth Councils at the national and federal levels. They also noted that the Federal Youth Authority has launched the Emirati Youth Professional School which offers free certified vocation training to better equip young people for the marketplace.

The Youth Delegates referred to the Report of the UN Secretary-General on policies and programmes involving youth and underlined the direct correlation between mental health and young people’s well-being. In this regard, they highlighted the nonprofit organization that they, along with other young Emiratis, founded to raise awareness about mental health through volunteerism and advocacy.

Additionally, the Youth Delegates emphasized that the UAE’s efforts not only extended to its local youth, but also to young people in the Arab region, through different initiatives such as the Arab Youth Centre and One Million Arab Coders.

The Youth delegates concluded by quoting the founding father of the UAE, H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan: “We expect of youth what we did not expect from groups, and we look forward to a generation of young people who will achieve the impossible.”