Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan with youth from the Arab region during a session on Arab Youth Strategy. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Seven initiatives as part of the National Arab Youth Strategy were announced by Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, during the last session of the World Government Summit on Tuesday.

Before the participants of the Arab Youth Forum, that took place on the sidelines of the summit, shared their ideas, aspirations, and strategies for the future of the Arab World, Shaikh Mansour took to the stage and started the session by pointing to a fast-changing number on the screen above him.

“You will see a number that is increasing by the second. This number is not the number of victims of war or the number of losses in the oil sector nor is it the figures fluctuating in the stock market or the number of terrorist attacks. This number refers to the increase in the most important wealth we have, which is the Arab youth,” he said.

Describing young Arabs as “an emblem of hope”, Shaikh Mansour pointed out that they are the largest demographic segment in the region, which makes them the “makers of the future”.

“The best approach to the youth strategy is to refer to the youth themselves,” he said.

Seven initiatives

He presented seven initiatives that will be launched as a result of discussions that took place during the Arab Youth Forum, which gathered over 150 Arab youth from around the world.

“These young people are our advisers — to work on a strategy that targets them. This is their responsibility as well,” he said.

The seven initiatives are:

Establishment of a centre for Arab youth, led by young Arabs and based on their vision for the region.

Holding a second Arab Youth Forum, which will provide young Arabs with a platform for dialogue, and allow them to come together and discuss ideas and future initiatives.

Establishing a youth opportunity platform that allows young Arabs to benefit from capacity-building programmes. These programmes will include grants, awards, and competitions.

Publishing an annual Arab Youth Report that sheds light on young citizens’ dreams and aspirations. “It is important to know what the dreams of Arab youth are, so we can work together on achieving them. To achieve their dreams is to achieve the Arab dream,” said Shaikh Mansour.

Building a student exchange programme for Arab youth to study in different universities around the world.

Establishing youth circles across the Arab world with the inclusion of 22 Arab countries. “We have these youth circles that are held under the auspices of [His Highness] Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. However, these circles that have become a forum for Arab youth to interact and find solutions to issues facing youth in the region will be available across the Arab world,” said Shaikh Mansour.

And lastly, creating a platform for Arab Youth to work on the economy and use crowd sourcing as a model for the future.

“The future is in your hands, it’s your responsibility to create hope for future generations,” said Shaikh Mansour.

Voices of Arab youth

Members of the Arab Youth Forum listed common challenges faced by youth across the Arab world and described their hopes and dreams for the future during the session.

Sarah M., a Lebanese graduate from Harvard, said she is working on initiatives that focus on empowerment and integration of people from all walks of life, including those with disabilities. “I am blind, I can’t see your faces, but I can see and hear the energy of the Arab youth in the room,” she said.

Adding to the discussion, Mohammad Saeed Al Ghabra from Syria shared his dream of joining a university and the challenges he faced. “Now, I am a sophomore in computer engineering. I have learnt that we must be able to define priorities. We need to ensure safety, security, and health, both physically and psychologically. Then we must develop world-class educational institutions and spread knowledge across the region,” he added.

Al Ghabra pointed out the importance of committing to leadership. “Arab youth need to create leaders on the academic and work levels. We need to create opportunities for the youth, not wait for them to come to us, and adopt the concept of volunteerism,” he said.

Concluding on the exchange of ideas, Shaikh Mansour pointed out that history will remember the achievements of the solar power project in Morocco, Expo 2020 in Dubai, and the World Cup, which will be held in the Arab world. “Arab youth will create a better world for us,” said Shaikh Mansour.