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UAE introduces military service for all adult men

Move comes after a similar plan anounced by Qatar in November
Emirati troops march during celebrations marking 40th anniversary of the state (AFP)

The United Arab Emirates has introduced compulsory military service, the state news agency WAM announced on Saturday.

The law will apply to all men aged between 18 and 30 (optional for women depending on the consent of their ‘guardian’) and is being brought in under the UAE constitution which states that “the defence of the federation is a sacred duty for every citizen.”

“The issuing of the law comes with the goals of affirming the instilling of the values of loyalty, affiliation and sacrifice in the souls of the sons of homeland," WAM said.

WAM said President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan had issued the federal law.

The country had first said that it would introduce the law in January.

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

Abu Dhabi plans to introduce military service in January.

The UAE currently has about 51,000 men serving in its armed forces, including an army of 44,000, a navy of 2,500 and an air force of 4,500.

Observers have suggested that the move is in response to fears of regional stability.

According to Reuters, UAE also has a territorial dispute with Iran over three Gulf islands controlled by the Islamic republic.

Nearby Qatar also approved a draft law on military service in November.

Qatari men between 18 and 35 will have to serve for four months, three months if they are university graduates.

Qatar has found itself increasingly isolated in the region over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, although the Turkish news agency Anadolou Agency announced on Saturday that the ambassadors from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, who had been previously withdrawn from the country, could return in a matter of days.

The other Gulf states all maintain professional armies.

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