Middle East

UAE to make military service compulsory: agency

United Arab Emirates' Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum speaks during the first day of the Government Summit at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, February 11, 2013. (REUTERS/Khalifa Al Yousef/The Media Office/HO)

ABU DHABI: The UAE cabinet approved a draft law Sunday making it compulsory for Emirati men to serve in the military for up to two years, state news agency WAM reported.

The "national and reserve service", optional for girls, will become mandatory for men aged between 18 and 30 years, WAM said, adding that the bill must still be approved by the consultative Federal National Council.

Emirati men who have finished secondary school will have to serve in the army for nine months, while others will have to enrol in military service for two years.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting, UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum, said the policy aims to "strengthen the sense of belonging to the nation among young people and plant in them discipline and sacrifice."

In November, Qatar's government made a similar move approving a draft law mandating men in the Gulf state to do military service.

Under the legislation, Qatari men aged between 18 and 35 must serve in the military for three months if they are graduates, and four if they are not.

Kuwait is debating the reintroduction of compulsory military service, cancelled after the Iraqi army invaded the emirate in 1990 and occupied it for seven months.

Compulsory military service is not applied in other Gulf monarchies. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman rely on professional armies in their defence.





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