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Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair (centre, back row) with children in a file picture Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund has announced its fifth round of grants to tackle the skills gaps and unemployment. The Fund will invite proposals in the following months for high-impact programmes that prioritise market-driven skill building and development for vulnerable Arab youth in Jordan and Lebanon, as well as youth from conflict-affected countries residing in the UAE.

The refugee unemployment rates reached an alarming 48 per cent in 2022, with refugees earning an average of just $3.50 per day, intensifying poverty in Lebanon and Jordan. It was against this background last year in June, that the Fund decided to extend grants for another three years.

After careful selection, from a pool of 62 applicants, the Fund provided grants to nine local, regional, and global institutions including Borderless, UNICEF Jordan, War Child Holland, UNHCR Lebanon, Luminus, INJAZ, Hussein Technical University, LOTUS, and LASER, to work towards educational and upskilling programs for the refugee youth and host community.

About the Fund

The Fund, administered by the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation, was set up in 2018, by Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair to ensure continued education for displaced and vulnerable Arab youth in the region. The initial aim of the Fund was to provide access to high-quality education to 20,000 youth in the target geographical areas, Jordan, and Lebanon, being home to the highest number of refugees per capita in the world.

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However, the youth unemployment rate in the MENA region has stubbornly remained at 26 per cent, amongst the highest in the world for the past two decades, making it a compelling case for the Fund to extend the grants for an additional three years.

With a key focus on impact-driven projects and multi-sectoral partnerships, the Fund in the last four years, has awarded more than Dh120 million in grants supporting 62,000 refugee youth, of which 50 per cent of the participants are women. The Fund’s rigorous efforts have contributed to the current success of the programs leading to refugee employment rates whereby 76 per cent and 58 per cent of participants are employed in Jordan and Lebanon respectively.

Al Ghurair, the Chairman of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation, and the Refugee Education Fund, said: “We are determined to support and encourage youth to be the front-runners of a developed future. With a constant rise in competent workforce demands, our focus lies on empowering the refugee Arab youth to acquire the right knowledge to curate their aptitudes and advance their skill sets."

He added: "We hope to select partners and grantees that will work directly with the refugees to help drive ‘real’ change and welcome programs that have pioneering approaches to bridging education gaps, catalysing employment, and career progression – enabling refugee youth to become confident and empowered leaders.”

The fifth round of grants will place a strong focus on the importance of data collection and evaluation, to continuously explore solutions and address challenges in an agile manner for the betterment of the refugee youth.