UAE leads by example with youth-focused policies: Minister of State for International Cooperation

DUBAI, 13th May, 2018 (WAM) — An expert panel discussed the findings of the 10th annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2018, released on Tuesday, underlining the importance of the insights gained from the study for the region’s governments, policymakers and business leaders.

Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, and Director-General, Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau, welcomed the Survey’s finding that ‘the UAE remains the top country Arab youth want to live in and want their own countries to emulate’.

Al Hashimy noted that one of the most significant findings in this year’s Survey was the level of support for His Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman among Arab Youth (63 per cent of those surveyed) and particularly in Saudi Arabia (91 percent), and his programme of economic and social development.

She went on to highlight the ambition of Arab youth, adding, “The UAE has launched a number of initiatives that activate hope among youth, which reiterates the desire of the government to open fresh opportunities for young people by working directly with them.”

Al Hashimy said it is the UAE’s strategy to integrate and engage with young people, and youth engagement was a priority for Expo 2020 Dubai. “Nearly 30 per cent of the employees Expo 2020 are below the age of 30. We have a department dedicated to youth affairs, Youth Connect, and to promoting Expo 2020 Dubai in schools and universities. Volunteering is another major part of Expo – and a major focus of our volunteers programme are young people.

Turki bin Abdullah Aldakhil, General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel, said the finding that ‘Young Arabs see Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a strong leader who will shape the next decade’ is very important because its shows that: “Arab youth believe in his role in fighting extremism. They see him as a one of them, someone who thinks like them, and as someone who has broken the stereotype of a rigid political leader.”

Aldakhil added, “It is not only His Highness’ development mindset that inspires youth but also because he wants to present the real Islam to the world, as many Arab youth were embarrassed to express their religion because of the way in which Daesh represented Islam.”

On the observation that an increasing number of Arab youth perceive the Arab Spring to have impacted the region negatively, Dalia Khorshid, former Investment Minister of Egypt, said the Arab Spring was a wave of change – and – “an expression of how youth wanted to dictate their future and create the environment they want”.

She said, “Egypt marked 2016 as the Year of Youth, when the government focused on listening to young people and discussing various issues. There are bound to be differences but it is healthy. The key aspect is to understand that youth aspire to make a difference, and with digital technology, things are going to change faster.”

Professor Tom Fletcher CMG, Visiting Professor of International Relations at NYUAD and Visiting Professor and Special Advisor, Emirates Diplomatic Academy, said the real challenge for governments anywhere is that young people globally are finding it harder to trust the generation in office to leave the world in a better shape than it is today – with the exception of some countries, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

He added that “the magnetic quality of the UAE to attract people is a result of the opportunities that the nation creates”. He underpinned the need for “getting the education system right” to ensure that “women are not just behind the steering wheel of cars but also steering the boardrooms.”

Prof. Fletcher added, “What we learn from the digital age is that popularity is easy to gain, hard to hold on to and easier still to lose”, and it is important for leaders to “continue to deliver and take the people with them – thinking of the long-term”.


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