‘Na­tional Ser­vice changed our lives’

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When Na­jla Al Za’abi signed up for na­tional ser­vice with the UAE Armed Forces, she had no idea it would lead to her sav­ing a child’s life.

Al Za’abi spoke to 7DAYS at an event at Zayed Univer­sity’s Dubai cam­pus to mark Emi­rati Women’s Day on Sun­day. She said: “When I first joined the Na­tional Ser­vice and en­tered a room with five strangers, I was shocked.

“It was as if I was liv­ing in a five-star ho­tel and then moved to maybe a one-star ho­tel or even half a star.

“How­ever, I learned a lot, in­clud­ing self­con­trol, mil­i­tary lan­guage, cus­toms and cul­ture.”

Al Za’abi added: “The mil­i­tary en­vi­ron­ment and cul­ture shaped the way I think and be­have even in real life.

“The se­cu­rity per­spec­tive that I learned shaped my life prac­tices and po­lit­i­cal knowl­edge.

“Once I was on the street, I saw a kid cross­ing the road and I saw a ve­hi­cle speed­ing.

“I im­me­di­ately felt the ve­hi­cle would run over the child and I ran to save him. “Thank­fully, he is alive and safe now.” Aisha Hareb, who also grad­u­ated from na­tional ser­vice, said: “The na­tional ser­vice trains Emi­rati women on how to de­fend them­selves.

“It also teaches them first aid, time By Nawal Al Ramahi man­age­ment, work­ing un­der pres­sure and more.”

Also tak­ing part in the event were fe­male mem­bers of the UAE Armed Forces who climbed the world’s high­est peak, Ever­est, ear­lier this year. Maitha Al Eissa, who was part of that team, said: “We trained for three and a half years for the climb.

“My whole team and I faced chal­lenges. How­ever, a voice in­side kept on telling me that the United Arab Emi­rates flag will be on the top of Ever­est, it was ex­tremely en­cour­ag­ing.

“I be­lieve it en­cour­aged each one of us. We sup­ported each other, as well.

“It took us nine days to fin­ish the chal­lenge. We walked at least five hours a day and once we walked for 13 hours. We car­ried heavy bags due to the lack of oxy­gen at high al­ti­tudes.”

HH Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Min­is­ter of State for Tol­er­ance and Pres­i­dent of Zayed Univer­sity, said: “I am pleased to cel­e­brate the Emi­rati Women’s Day with prom­i­nent Emi­rati women, their con­tri­bu­tions and achieve­ments high­lighted many roles in the UAE.”

END OF SER­VICE: HH Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi with women who have com­pleted their na­tional ser­vice

RE­CRUITS: HH Sheikh Mo­hammed with some of the first women to sign up

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