GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
Youth Perception towards Armed Service in the GCC Countries: Case Study of UAE
Paper Proposal Text :
Youth Perception towards Armed Service in the GCC Countries: Case Study of UAE

Ahmed M. Abozaid, MA
Director of Research - International Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (IICD), Dubai.

Eman Ragab, Ph. D
Senior Researcher -Security and Strategic Studies Unit & Editor in Chief of "Badael",
Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS), Cairo

Youssef Wardany,
Expert in youth studies- PhD researcher, Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences, Cairo University

February 2015

Since the Arab Spring, GCC countries began to reevaluate the formation of its armed forces through reconsidering applying the mandatory military conscription, and opening it up to national citizens in order to foster the national dimension in the formation of these forces. This direction repose questions regarding the type of armed forces that these countries might end up with, the type of relationship between the armed forces and the society, and to what extent it would strengthen the national identity among the youth bulge in these countries.

GCC countries as small states, who tended historically to preserve its sovereignty, and defend its security and stability against all sources of the threat it faces, through relying on the umbrella of external defense, and accordingly, the systematic national armies of these countries does not exceed at best estimate over few thousand voluntary recruitments soldiers (or even naturalized). On the other hand, the combating experience of these armies was very modest. This paradox makes the security dilemma that faced these countries continues.

This paper argues that the implementation of mandatory conscription would have security and social implications that would impact stability in the GCC countries. Such implications are shaped by the decreasing numbers of nationals in comparison to migrant workers, especially in UAE, the weakening national identity among the youth, and the emerging security threats these countries are facing in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

Upon this background, this paper will examine the formation of the GCC countries armed forces since the independence till the Arab Spring, and to what extent its citizens had the right to be part of the manpower in these forces. The paper focuses on the case of UAE, as it is the only GCC country that applies a law requiring all young Emiratis between the ages of eighteen and twenty-ninth to be under conscription call. The paper will map the varying perceptions among the youth who are to be subject to this law. The paper will rely on content analysis of national news papers, content of social media networks, as well as interviews.
In analyzing the social and security implication in the case of UAE, the paper will draw lessons from other countries in the region who applied mandatory conscription while considering the contextual differences between these cases and UAE.

Thus, the paper will be divided into three sections, an introduction and a conclusion. The First section, will analyze the conscription system applied in the armed forces of the six GCC countries since their independence in the 1960s, 1970, till the Arab Spring. It will analyze also the debates following the 1990s Free Kuwait War regarding the conscription system, in comparison to the ongoing debate after the Arab Spring, and how it affected the formation of the armed forces in these countries. The second section, maps the perceptions among Emirati youth regarding the mandatory conscription applied since Jan 2014. The third section, outlines the possible social and security implications of such a development on the stability of UAE.