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Volunteers for national service proud to be among the first

posted on 10/07/2016: 2112 views

Military training for the first batch of volunteers for National Service begins on Sunday, and recruits are saying they are proud to serve.

Emirati men between 30 and 40 years have opted to leave their families behind and put their careers and social life on hold for 15 weeks of instruction by the Armed Forces.

Despite juggling two infants at home, a senior position at work, and a doctoral programme at the UAE University, Hadi Al Badi said he did not hesitate to add National Service to the list when the opportunity arose.

"I was very envious of those ¬under 30 for whom military service was mandatory and was hoping I would get my chance," said the 36-year-old.

When he first mentioned his intent to serve Mr Al Badi said family, friends and colleagues were taken aback.

"‘Are you serious?' they said. They didn't expect someone in my position to be released by his company."

Although it is mandatory for men between 18 and 30 to do 12 months of National Service, Emiratis between 30 and 40 wishing to volunteering must first receive a no-objection letter from their employers.

As a vice-president of a major local energy company, Mr Al Badi said he had first to convince his seniors that his responsibilities would be taken care of during his absence.

"I'm lucky my CEO is Emirati and although he was initially shocked he has been supportive and encouraging," he said.

Another who had hoped to be among the first to volunteer for National Service said the lack of awareness of the volunteering programme was to blame for his employer denying him the opportunity.

"In the beginning I was disappointed because I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my older brothers who volunteered during the first Gulf War," said Fahed Ali, 33.Mr Ali, the application head for a local organisation, said he understood that his employer could not sacrifice someone in a senior position for 15 weeks.

"Because it's the first batch, it was a big question mark for them," he said. "For those under 30 the message to the companies and organisations is clear, but in my age group there isn't as much awareness."

Another barrier was the fact that many in his age group no longer held junior positions at their companies and it was harder for companies to let go of their senior staff.

Despite missing out on this first round, Mr Ali said he was determined to enlist.

"They got a clear message that if not this group, then it will be one in the future," he said.

Mr Al Badi said it was a privilege to be one of the first to volunteer and as someone who has made the most of the of the opportunities presented to him as an Emirati, was looking forward to paying back the country.

He said he was sure he and his company would benefit greatly from the experience.

"I've never served in the Armed Forces and to be able to combine a civilian and military mindset will surely help me become a better leader," he said.

When asked about the challenge of going through a week of boot camp during the hottest part of the year, Mr Al Badi said it was an experience he was looking forward to.

"I have trust in our military and leaders and am sure they will make the right decisions."

Mr Al Badi said despite not being able to train during Ramadan and having to cancel holiday plans with family, he and his relatives knew it was for a good cause.

"I have their full support and am excited about the next few months," he said. – The National -


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