Sharjah: Creating a regional youth advisory council and funding youth community centres are among a list of 15 recommendations by youth delegates attending the Investing in the Future (IIFMENA) conference in Sharjah to support young people as the region develops, said organisers at the close of the conference which ended on Thursday.

The Big Heart Foundation youth delegation of 12 men and women covered a number of issues in their statement ranging from education. economic empowerment of youth, and social norms and challenges that are hindering young women.

The delegation also suggested creation of youth crisis programmes, youth investment and banking opportunities as well as a scholarship platform.

Delegates encouraged the youth statement to be weighed and adopted by governments across the region.

In closing comments, Shaikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations, said it is important to protect youth from the horrible outcomes of war and extremism by offering them opportunities to educate themselves.

“It is crucial to turn empowerment slogans into practical programmes that lead to tangible results, especially in countries facing crises and conflict. Sharjah seeks to further global efforts aimed at harnessing partnerships that are forged to build a bridge that will enable the region’s youth to march into a better, more stable and secure future,” he said in a press release.

“The Investing in the Future conference is an example that nothing is impossible without goodwill and a sincere desire. The [conference] is instrumental to [enabling] the youth to develop their capabilities, and play their role in building their communities,” he said.

Big Heart Foundation Director Mariam Al Hammadi, said in a statement: “After all the discussions that have taken place here with the youth, we can confidently say our decision to provide them a platform, the Investing in the Future conference, was absolutely right and necessary. Leaders and officials cannot develop policies and solutions to the crises in isolation from youth partnerships to guide us about their expectations of the future and how they intend to lead it.

“These convictions drive our efforts in the UAE and Sharjah. His Highness Shaikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah says, ‘providing good education to our youth is the best long-term investment ever, and the innovative ideas of the talented graduates of our universities are the foundation of achieving the development goals’. This means allowing the youth to assume their responsibility of leading the future. This forum was a call out to them to face their challenges and further the achievements themselves; create solutions, not wait for them.”