On February 10 2016, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates appointed Shamma Al Mazrui as the Minister of Youth Affairs to the cabinet.
Shamma Al Mazrui is a 22-year-old woman who holds a Bachelor’s degree from New York University in economics and a Master’s degree from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
As well as her role as Minister of Youth Affairs, she will be the President of the Youth Council, which will represent affairs of the youth before the government.
Sheikh Mohammed said of her appointment “Youth represents some half of our Arab societies, so it is only logical to give them a voice and role in governing the nation.”
“Youth have hopes and dreams, issues and challenges; they are the reason why societies prosper or fail. They are our hope for the future. Our young country was built by the hands and achievements of youth. Youth is our strength and speed and is our treasure for the future.”
This is significant both in terms of her youth and gender and will be welcomed by young people around the world, who strive to be heard by governments. Children and young people are often at the forefront of visional thinking on sustainability and the need for societal change.
What will be interesting is what impact this appointment might have on wider issues in UAE. Will the new minister be confined to working on matters of ‘youth’ in a restricted portfolio, or will she be invited to contribute to a wide range of governmental matters.
Will this development be followed in other governments in the region, or even followed by large companies appointing board members with youthful vision?
Image Credit: NYU Abu Dhabi