Emirati minister shaves head and embarks on national service

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Omar Al Olama, 29, is to begin military training, which male citizens aged 18 to 30 must complete

Jan 12, 2020

January 12, 2020

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An Emirati Cabinet minister has embarked on national service, shaving his head and reporting to a military training camp.

Omar Al Olama, the Minister of Artificial Intelligence, on Sunday joined the tens of thousands of Emirati men aged 18 to 30 who must complete 16 months of training.

“With great honour and appreciation, I have signed up to be drafted in the 13th cohort of the National Service draft,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Serving this nation, and giving back to the country that has always aspired to provide the best for every Emirati is the greatest pride of my life.”

Al Olama will turn 30 on February 16 and signed up in the latest intake, of which there are two each year.

In addition to compulsory service for men aged 18 to 30, women in the same age group can volunteer to undertake a shorter training period, as can men aged 30 to 40.

National service was brought in to boost Emiratis’ fitness and foster a sense of discipline and national identity.

It has been credited with a 75 per cent fall in crimes committed by young Emiratis between 2014 and 2017.

The most significant reduction was in fights or assaults among those aged between 18 and 30 that led to death or disability.

In total, 61 cases were reported from 2014 to 2017, down from 274 in the three years before national service was introduced.

National service was undertaken for nine months when first introduced, rising to 12 months then 16 months from July 2018.

Updated: January 12, 2020 11:53 AM

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