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Tue 22 Mar 2016 01:52 PM

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Emirati youth want digital dialogue from leaders, says new minister

Youth Minister Shamma Al Mazrui says futile to communicate with young people using outdated media

Emirati youth want digital dialogue from leaders, says new minister
Shamma Al Mazrui, the 22-year-old Minister of State for Youth Affairs.

The UAE government should communicate with young people via digital media rather than alternative channels such as print, the country’s newly appointed youth minister has said.

In a keynote speech at the International Government Communication Forum in Sharjah on Monday, Shamma Al Mazrui, the 22-year-old Minister of State for Youth Affairs, said dialogue between decision makers and the younger generation was vital.

According to local media she said: “If we want to understand the youth, government bodies need to open diverse and direct communication channels with them, use their technologies to understand them, or else we will be ‘swimming against the tide’, as Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid has said.”

She added: “Our leaders use social media platforms to get in touch with the people directly.

“Sharjah Ruler Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi has interacted on ¬radio many times to respond and help residents in need, while Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid has asked for feedback and gauged residents on social platforms [such as Twitter] and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed has interacted with residents directly during his extensive field visits.”

According to The National, Al Mazrui said attempting to communicate with young citizens via printed news or government statements was futile, as the youth do not use these platforms.

“A large percentage of the youth do not read the news or listen to government statements, and don’t interact with them,” she said, adding that this creates a “vacuum” between the government’s media and more than half of the country’s population.

“When I ask my girlfriends when was the last time they picked up and read a local or international newspaper, they were surprised by my question, because they do not – they use social media platforms to catch up on news using their smartphones.

“We talk to the youth, but we don’t listen to them enough, and government bodies [need to] put extra effort and honest communication in [to] matters that are important to them.”

Al Mazrui also visited the UAE University in Al Ain last week as part of her field visits to meet UAE youth, according to state news agency WAM.

During her visit she said: “Investing in Emirati Youth is a cornerstone for development and progress and which eventually requires from us, as youth, to exert our utmost effort to serve our nation.”

Al Mazrui was appointed to her position in February as part of the biggest Cabinet shake-up the UAE has implemented. New roles of Minister of Happiness and Minister of Tolerance were also created as part of the reshuffle.

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