ABU DHABI, 6th September, 2022 (WAM) — The first Youth Ambassadors Programme Japan (YAPJP) has been launched with the aim of deepening cultural ties and harnessing young talent.
The launch of the programme comes in celebration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Japan.
YAP Japan targets Emirati students from five universities across the UAE who aspire to study and obtain a master’s degree in Japan. This year’s inaugural programme selected 21 ambitious students out of a competitive pool of 250 applicants.
Building on the success of previous and existing Youth Ambassadors Programmes, between the UAE and other countries, including China, South Korea and Germany, the first iteration between the UAE and Japan is being organised in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Centre (JICE).
The programme will provide participants with a profound knowledge of Japanese culture, history, language, and aesthetics. The graduates of YAP Japan are expected to become leaders in fields of government, industries, and academia and play critical roles in fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries.
Initially launched in 2012, the programme aims to develop and equip young Emiratis to take on prominent roles in strategic sectors, increasing their understanding of the economy, government, history, culture, and language through strengthened engagement with selected strategic partners of the UAE. To date, more than 200 alumni have graduated from the programme.
YAP Japan kicked off with an orientation at the Emirates Palace on 25th August, as a means to celebrate the new cohort and with the presence of key figures, including Akio Isomata, Ambassador of Japan to the UAE, and Alanood Al Kaabi, Programme Manager of the Youth Ambassadors Programme. Masashi Watanabe, Director of Petroleum Policy at the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, joined the event virtually.
The orientation allowed participants to learn more about the programme and its support, as well as experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony workshop with the Urasenke Abu Dhabi Study Group.
YAPJAPAN aim each of the participants will enroll in a master’s degree in the autumn of 2023, and in advance of their studies will have a chance to experience a wide range of courses, including Japanese cultural workshop, individual study counseling with professional and Japanese Language course specially made for YAP student.
Each student will also be able to participate in the upcoming Japan Visit Programme this December, allowing them to experience Japanese culture and technology up close and have an opportunity to visit some of their top universities in Japan.
The 21 students selected for this year’s programme have a deep interest in Japan; for many, pop culture was the spark that fired their passion.
Fatima Aldahmani, a graduate of Ras Al Khaimah’s Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), is one of them. “I first became interested in Japan through anime. I studied the Japanese language by myself for almost seven years and have my own Instagram account where I teach Japanese to Arabic speakers,” she says.
Her fellow participant, Sara Al Ameri, a fourth-year student at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed University, also has a passion for Japanese culture, both pop and traditional. “I became interested in Japan first through Pokémon, games, and anime from my brother, and developed my own broader interests in different cultural areas such as kabuki, enka, comedy, and more,” she said. A student of psychology, Al Ameri plans to further her studies with a focus on learning about Japanese research into mental health and how it compares to the UAE.
For participant Ahmad Al Hashimi, a fourth-year student at Dubai’s Higher Colleges of Technology, his introduction to Japan lies in tech. “I’ve been interested in space and technology since I was a child. I’m excited about the opportunity to further my studies in Japan, and would like to learn about robotics and space engineering,” he says. A student of mechatronics , including electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science, Al Hashimi will also be representing the UAE at the upcoming WorldSkills competition in the mobile robotics category.
Alanood Al Kaabi, the Programme Manager of the Youth Ambassadors Programme, believes that participants will benefit greatly from the opportunity. “The programme offers participants wonderful opportunities to learn more about Japanese culture across many different sectors, and will equip them with valuable skills for their future careers,” she says. “I’m excited to see that 16 of the 21 participants are women, highlighting the fact that there are many talented female Emiratis with great careers ahead of them.”
Shigeto Aoki, General Manager of the JICE Abu Dhabi Office, says that the programme is important in strengthening cultural ties. “The launch of the inaugural Young Ambassadors Programme between Japan and the United Arab Emirates is a key initiative in deepening our cultural bonds, especially in 2022, the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries,” he says.