The ‘Next Normal’ brings new opportunities, novel ways to learn and grow, and a different set of priorities for the UAE youth, asserted experts at a series of sessions titled A Changing World – the first of three main chapters at the third edition of the Mohamed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations (MBZMFG 2021).
The virtual event took place on March 14, 2021, under the theme Thriving in the Next Normal, where participants delved deep into topics ranging from the skills that will be most in-demand in the future to tactics that young people could implement to face these pressures, adapt to their new surroundings, and strive to innovate and excel.
Sessions under the first chapter – A Changing World – shed light on the rapid and unprecedented developments that took place around the world in 2020, which had a significant impact on business, individuals, families, communities, and entire countries. The UAE was committed, throughout this period, to making calculated forecasts that anticipate future scenarios and outline the opportunities that lie ahead, all the while empowering youth and encouraging them to continue innovating.
New Ways of Learning
Under this theme, a session titled New Ways of Learning and chaired by H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Nuaimi, Director of the Education Affairs Office at the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, explored the rapidly evolving skillsets that will be required in the 21st century, which will compel Emirati youth to embrace lifelong learning and master entrepreneurial skills in order to adapt to change, communicate more effectively, boost critical thinking, and excel at teamwork.
During the session, H.E. Eng. Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, asserted that nothing is impossible for the UAE’s wise leadership, which is constantly striving towards greater accomplishments. “The leadership relies on talented youth to carry the torch and add landmark accomplishments across all sectors, building on the country’s already illustrious track record, which most recently culminated in the Hope Probe reaching Mars in a project led by our youth,” H.E. said.
H.E. Al Hammadi explained that “education in the UAE is an integrated system operating along several national strategies such as the National Innovation Strategy, the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, the UAE Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the UAE Strategy for the Future. It begins from early childhood and continues all the way through university education and past graduation when lifelong learning begins.”
“The education system in the UAE is constantly undergoing sweeping developments and upgrades, particularly in terms of programming, analysis, and data,” H.E. Al Hammadi added, noting that design and technology are taught in the early stages of education, that the curriculum is constantly being updated, and that the Ministry had recently announced advanced standards for the sector.
“For students to be knowledgeable of programming, analysis, and data, they must go beyond just familiarising themselves with the subject and strive to master and embed it in real projects,” H.E. noted. “With that in mind, the UAE education system began exploring ways to enable students to carry out their projects – be that individually or in collaboration with their peers. Moreover, students were given the opportunity to showcase their completed projects to ministries, government entities, and private companies who offered them solutions and ideas.”
“The Ministry of Education has worked to standardise the ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation’ course across all universities in the UAE. We established centres for innovation and entrepreneurship for students in universities, which enjoyed great support from various government entities,” H.E. Al Hammadi revealed.
“The UAE is always looking to the future. All segments of the community must follow suit, especially the youth, in order to fulfil UAE Vision 2071 and establish a robust knowledge economy that is rooted in innovation, as well as the production and application of knowledge,” H.E. Al Hammadi said, asserting that he has every confidence in the youth’s creativity, innovation, and ability to drive this shift towards the knowledge economy in the UAE.
The Minister urged students to choose specialisations they are passionate about, which would allow them to be innovative in the sector they choose. “University is not the final chapter of education; on the contrary, it marks the beginning of lifelong learning,” he stressed. “We must embrace this philosophy in light of the constant and rapid evolution of the employment market, and with it, of the required skills and knowledge. We must make a habit of reading, learning from other people’s experience and knowledge, and always striving to reflect a positive image of the UAE around the world.”
Hard Work and Perseverance Are Key for Success
For her part, H.E. Sana Mohammad Suhail, Head of the Transition Office at the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, addressed the ‘Frontier Industries’ session, stressing that “Innovation and technology play a prominent role in the early childhood sector.”
“There are many interests, values, and principles that a person develops and that are entrenched in them in their early childhood years – particularly in the first eight years of their lives,” she said. “As the entity tasked with developing the early childhood sector, the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority focuses on four key pillars, namely, early childhood education, health and nutrition, child protection, and family care.”
H.E. advised young people to never set limits to their ambitions and aspirations and to work hard, persevere, and follow their passion to accomplish success: “My advice to you is to pursue a profession with a purpose – a career that makes you feel good. You must go after those dreams that would bring the much needed change our world needs. Celebrating the UAE’s Golden Jubilee reminds us of how important it is to invest in people and prepare them for the future in every sector.