'UAE youth want government of interaction, not communication'

Minister of State for Youth Affairs Shamma Al Mazrui. (Pic by Ashok Verma)

As the UAE welcomed the new Minister of State for Youth Affairs last month, the 22-year-old Shamma Al Mazrui is proposing a change in the way government department’s function, in a bid to adopt a progressive interactive policy rather than one that just communicates.

Al Mazrui proposed this plan while addressing VIPs and members of youth at the ongoing International Government Communication Forum in Sharjah.

She said: “We, the UAE YNC are interested in to listening to the youth and finding the best solutions. We need our government speeches to be from the youth, to the youth.

“And to do this, we need to use their tools, their language and modern technology.”

Al Mazrui continued: “We must open direct and diverse channels with them and allow them to voice their opinions and listen to them. Otherwise, as His Highness Sheikh Mohammed said, we will be swimming against the currents.”

She further explained that the UAE’s youth were no different from any country’s youth; they are searching for traditional content through different means of communications.

“Do they read news; do they know the laws?” she asked, adding: “A large sector of youth read news statements, but you would be surprised to know the last time they read a newspaper.

“The youth today want everything with speed. So they follow their news through social media and smartphones.”

Al Mazrui said this was creating a gap between the youth and the traditional form of communication that has been adopted by the government.

“As a government, we are facing a challenge and this imposes a question, ‘are the channels of government communication able to reach the youth?” she asked.

Continuing, she said: “The answer is important, but more important is finding the solution that opens a two-way communication. We talk to the youth, yes, but we don't listen enough to them or interact with them.

“If we don’t adopt a two-way communication, we will lose grip with reality. We may have to change the way of government departments, from communication to interaction.

“The youth wants departments of government arms to engage in two-way interaction rather than one-sided communication. This is my suggestion and the way forward for the UAE as I see.”