News services throughout the UAE are reporting the government has announced mandatory military service. All Emirati males between ages 18 and 30 will be required to serve in the military while it will be optional for women. Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the details of the plan on Twitter on Sunday, January 19.
All Emirati males who have finished secondary school will be required to serve for nine months while those without a high school diploma will serve for two years. “The new law adds another layer to the national defense force to further protect our nation, secure its borders, and preserve its achievements,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted. “Our message to the world is a message of peace; the stronger we are, the stronger our message.”
The requiring of military service is not unusual and many countries including Russia, Switzerland, South Korea, Mexico and others have such laws. It is under consideration in other GCC countries such as Qatar and Kuwait.
My blog has focused on education in the UAE and therefore my comments will address the possible affect of military service on higher education. I am of the belief that mandatory service will have a significant affect on the upcoming freshmen classes and especially male students who are completing their initial degree. The first question which came to my mind is; will military service be required before going to further education? I would assume not but nothing has been stated so far.
However, lets go with the assumption a student can enroll in a higher education institution before doing military service. A fact to consider is the vast majority of male UAE Nationals are in Foundation programs trying to improve their skills so they can be accepted into a standard bachelors degree program. I wonder if these students who do not gain “direct entry” would then be required to do nine months of military first? Perhaps as a part of the military experience additional educational training would be provided in some method for these citizen soldiers.
There are a number of questions educators will have and I would like to post your thoughts on this recent development. I look forward to your comments.