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Mon 7 Mar 2016 07:51 PM

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UAE says to extend compulsory military service to 12 months

National and Reserve Service Authority announces plan to extend period from 9 months for Emirati males and females

UAE says to extend compulsory military service to 12 months
Emirati armed forces take part in a military show. (AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

Compulsory national military service in the UAE is being extended to a minimum of 12 months from nine months, the National and Reserve Service Authority of the UAE Armed Forces General Command announced on Monday.

The period of the service relates to national and reserve service for Emirati male and female 12th grade holders of a high secondary school certificate, news agency WAM said.

Those who do not have a high school diploma serve for two years.

A law implementing compulsory military service for Emirati men was first issued in June 2014, a move highlighting the Gulf state's concern over turmoil in the region.

The UAE, a federation of seven emirates with a mostly expatriate population, faces no immediate threats from neighbours and has been spared militant attacks that have targeted other countries like Saudi Arabia.

Like other Gulf Arab states, the US ally has strong military ties with Western powers that say they are committed to helping the OPEC member country deter or repel any threat.

But the UAE, a big buyer of Western military hardware, has a territorial dispute with its much bigger neighbor, Iran, over three Gulf islands controlled by the Islamic republic.

It is also wary of a neighbourhood fraught with conflicts, including in Syria and Iraq.