DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- The United Arab Emirates has issued a law requiring compulsory military service for adult males, formalizing a proposal outlined earlier in the year to bolster the ranks of the U.S.-allied Gulf federation's armed forces.
The official state news agency WAM announced the move Saturday, saying the law "aims to instill values of loyalty and sacrifice in the hearts of the citizens."
The legislation requires male high school graduates between the ages of 18 and 30 to serve nine months. Those without a high school diploma must serve two years. Military service for Emirati women will be voluntary.
The seven-state federation, formed in 1971 after decades under British protection, has been spared the political unrest that has roiled much of the Middle East in recent years.
It has longstanding cultural and trade links to Iran but nonetheless remains wary of its powerful neighbor, which boasts a larger military and possesses significant stockpiles of missiles in range of the Emirates. Both countries claim sovereignty over three islands in the Persian Gulf that are occupied by Iran.
The UAE military currently has an estimated 51,000 active-duty personnel, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Emirati citizens are vastly outnumbered by foreign guest workers in their own country, and the UAE military and police forces include foreigners in their ranks. The country's leaders have taken steps to get more nationals into public and private-sector jobs, including in the military.
In recent years, UAE troops have joined the NATO-led mission to Afghanistan and provided humanitarian relief to Pakistan.
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