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Zaineh Abed Alhameed, a 19-year-old Emirati economics student in London, has co-founded the Youth Visionaries Association (YVA), which currently has over 100 Arab members from some of the world’s best universities.

Dubai: Why wait till graduation to network with top industry leaders and alumni from the best universities?

Zaineh Abed Alhameed, a 19-year-old Emirati economics student at King’s College London, decided to answer the question in her own way.

The second-year student, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Economics, recently co-founded the Youth Visionaries Association (YVA), which currently has over 100 members from some of the world’s best universities - Cambridge, Princeton, Columbia, London School of Economics, Imperial, Wharton, Berkeley, King’s, Georgetown, and more.

Zaineh came up with the idea while working alongside a fellow student at Kings’s College – Sima Sunno, a Lebanese national. The members of YVA belong to UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon and are aged between 18 and 23.

How it works

The idea is to bring together students and professionals so aspiring leaders can chart an earlier path to the skills and knowledge they will need in the near future to excel in their fields, while also contributing to their countries’ strategic plans.

To achieve this, YVA organises regular meetings every month. An in-person meet up has been planned on October 7 in London.

“We have over 50 members based in London who will be attending. The meetings serve as a catalyst for personal growth, where individuals can enhance their leadership skills, expand their knowledge base, and cultivate a strong sense of community,” said Zaineh.

The Association recently held a meeting with Dr Saeed Al Dhaheri, a pioneer in the artificial intelligence industry in the UAE and Director of the UAE Centre for Future Studies. An upcoming meeting with Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani, President and Founder of the Arab International Women’s Forum, is lined up with members.

On September 24, Maher Kaddoura, a Jordanian philanthropist and motivational speaker, will be speaking to the association members.

“The aim of the association is to empower youth hailing from an Arab nation and who are enrolled in top tier universities globally... The association serves as a platform for young individuals to become visionary leaders with a focus on embodying humility, resilience and leadership,” said Zaineh.

“We host monthly calls with industry leaders, organise workshops for personal development, arrange meet-ups in designated cities with a high concentration of members like Boston, London, Dubai, Beirut, Riyadh, New York.”

Who can become a member?

Zaineh said: “While we say top 35 university students, our admissions team is lenient while reading applications. We organise interviews to make sure candidates are the right fit. We look for motivated students with an exemplary Curriculum Vitae, a statement of purpose which explains why they want to join the YVA and how they would benefit. We are looking at students with potential to become future leaders policy makers, entrepreneurs, artists, historians, medics, etc.”

How it all started

Zaineh said: “I reached out to my co-founder Sima who is a student of International Development at King’s College London. I told her how we need to create a network for motivated Arab students to understand how the systems works in the region, what it takes to become a future leader and how important it is to surround ourselves with other motivated students.”

She added that the purpose of the association is to create a network from members in their young age so they can build relationships both socially and academically and establish joint ventures in the future.

The Emirati teen, who had done her schooling at the International School of Choueifat (Dubai) and Jumeirah College, also wants to give back to her nation to help nurture future leaders.

Zaineh said that the UAE is a country which has been committed to developing its youth academically and socially. “I can help play a role in a movement that I am so passionate about and this is what inspired me to start YVA. The YVA looks to build the next generation of leaders, those passionate about seeking development and change, for the benefit of all.”

Why economics?

She explained: “While my passion lies in education and youth affairs, I aspire to hold a leading role in domestic and international economic and strategic developments in the UAE. Studying economics and understanding the unique economic landscape of the UAE, I have grown to further appreciate the diversification efforts by the UAE. I hope to also aid the process of reducing oil dependence, for the economic benefit and the fight against climate change.”

This summer, she interned at the UAE Embassy in London and will be interning there again during her university studies. She is also developing an online gallery dedicated to Arab art.

Inspiration at home

Zaineh’s grandfather, Judge Ahmad Saleh Abed Alhameed, was a legal consultant in the UAE and worked on the formation of the UAE constitution at the time of the formation of the Federation. Her father, Jamal Abed Alhameed, is a property developer and runs his own firm. Her mother, Siham Al Ameen, is a retired journalist.

Zaineh has two siblings – her older brother, Mohammad Khaled, is an associate at Mubadala and pursued a degree in Engineering at Imperial College and a Master’s degree from London School of Economics. Her sister, Tala, works as a senior analyst at JP Morgan and studied Computer Science at King’s College. She also has a Master’s degree from Imperial College.