Last week the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center ‘ADNEC’ hosted the annual UAE National career fair “Tawdheef”. Young Nationals of all different ages and backgrounds explored the aisles of extravagant corporate booths in search of their first, or next, career move. In parallel to the Tawdheef career fair the Emirati Youth Forum was taking place. Emirati students from universities across the UAE attended, with approximately 80% being women. In between speakers the students were asked a series of questions around career choices and personal interests. Out of all the questions being asked during the survey the one that stood out for me the most was “Would you move abroad for work in the future?”. Standing in the background I expected an overwhelming majority to select “No”. However I was pleasantly surprised to see that 45% said “Yes” they would move abroad, 39% said “No” they wouldn’t, and 16% were unsure. When asked the reasons for the response a couple of students spoke up and raised their motivations for working beyond the borders of the UAE. One believed that the government sector was saturated, notice how that student completely overlooked the private sector which only includes at best single digit Emirati representation. Another student believed that she could get a better learning experience abroad and bring her talents back to develop the country. Although this group of students represents a small number of Emiratis and possibly not the average mentality of our student body, they are however part of the ever changing working culture our country is experiencing. A culture where self motivated youth are seeking personal growth and impactful work rather than simply having a job that gives them something to do during the day, and pays them well at the end of the month. So what could this mean for the UAE and the growing Emirati workforce? Well on the one side it would ease the Emiratization pressure on government organizations, and on the back end it could lead to an influx of internationally talented UAE nationals bringing best practices and creative initiatives into our local public and private sectors. On the other side it could lead to “Brain Drain” where Emiratis going to work abroad would be amongst our best and brightest, and the UAE loses out on that talent. The Arab world has had a history of brain drain where a country’s politics and bureaucracy regularly took priority over impact and innovation. But that isn’t really the case for the UAE. The UAE has long been a hub for Arab innovation and thinking, where the true talents of the region found a home for their businesses, concepts, and ideas. Furthermore with 6,000 jobs on offer at the Tawdheef fair, and an unsaturated private sector, why the urge to go abroad? I believe it simply comes down to the mind-shift of a small, but growing, number of youth. A mind-shift which includes an increased awareness of how important international experience is, as well as an internal drive to put an end to the ideology that an Emirati can only be successful in the UAE. Not forgetting the important point that most of the students surveyed were women can also lead to questions of culture and the role of women in the workforce. The UAE has always played a leading role in incorporating women into organizations and leadership roles. However what we have seen in recent year is a dramatic shift in the education, performance, and progress of human capital in our country skewed towards a driven female workforce. So one must ask the question are the mentalities of our women outpacing our organizations? If anything I think Emiratis traveling abroad for work is healthy for our country from both an economic and social perspective. It can only make the bright Emiratis even brighter. It is on us as a society to ensure that when these Emiratis come home that they have a platform to put their thoughts, ideas, and creativity into action.