By Michinobu Yanagisawa / Japan News Staff WriterEmirati students at Japanese and South Korean universities suggested that the United Arab Emirates could more actively help its students abroad to share their experiences back home, in a bid to develop the oil-rich Gulf country into a diversified economy that is engaged internationally and protects its traditional values of tolerance and respect.
The students were participating in a dialogue session Sunday with UAE senior officials, held at a hotel in Tokyo’s Minato Ward and organized by the UAE’s education ministry.
A male participant said “the Foreign Ministry could play a role” in helping students to work in international organizations such as the United Nations. Another student said: “People [in the UAE] can learn from the many interesting experiences” of the session’s participants.
The forum was part of the Emirati government’s “Youth Circles” meetings, which have been held about 80 times inside and outside the country since 2016, in a bid to shape educational policies for a post-oil, knowledge-based economy.
In preparation for a long-term drop in oil demand, the UAE is currently working to reduce oil’s percentage of its GDP from the current about 30 percent to 20 percent by 2021.
At the Tokyo meeting — the Youth Circles’ first-ever to be held in Asia — participants looked at the importance of learning from local culture in their host countries. Citing the example of Japanese people frequently using such polite expressions as “arigato gozaimasu” (Thank you, or that’s very thoughtful of you), a female student stressed the value of respecting others that is shared by both the UAE and Japan.
Another female student in her fourth year in South Korea compared her country’s rapid development over the last 25 years to her own experience mastering the Korean language to train as a nuclear engineer. “Nothing is impossible,” she said.
The forum was attended by about 55 Emirati students in Japan and South Korea, as well as officials including Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, minister of state for higher education and advanced skills, and Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, minister of state for youth.
A total of about 70 UAE students are currently studying at Japanese universities. A majority of the UAE university students abroad are in such nations as the United States, Britain and Australia, but the government has recently adopted a five-year plan to diversify their destinations as part of efforts to create a more sustainable economy.