Policy and education leaders say Arab youth need the opportunity to engage in the policymaking process to develop resilient mindsets and harness the full potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Calls to empower young citizens came during the first session in the Arab Youth Leaders Meeting, organised by the Arab Youth Center under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, President of the Arab Youth Centre.
It was supported by the Arab League and the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, with the participation of youth ministers, youth workers, and multilateral organisations.
The session, taking place as part of the World Government Summit 2022 in Expo 2020 Dubai, preparing for the next decade of governmental development, convening 4,000 global leaders, government officials, thought leaders, experts, and innovators from more than 190 countries.
Under the title ‘Empowering Youth Work Professionals and Capacity Building’, policy experts highlighted key gaps and recommendations to support the professional development of young Arabs. The discussion was held between Dr. Ali Qassim Al Lawati, President of the Royal Academy of Administration in Oman, Dr. Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, CEO of Education for Employment in Saudi Arabia, and Dr. Mishaal Al Subaie, Deputy Director-General of the Public Authority for Youth in Kuwait.
Discussing the challenges facing young people, His Excellency Dr. Ali Qassim Al Lawati, President of the Royal Academy of Administration in Oman, said: “The fourth industrial revolution is not technical or political, it is social, and it is being driven by young people. They are more tech-savvy than governments, but we cannot address the challenge of developing young people with skills training alone. The new generation are digitally connected but socially disconnected and in today’s digital economy, character traits are more important than skills.”
For his part, Dr Abdullah Al Ghamdi, CEO of the Education for Employment in Saudi Arabia, emphasised the need to engage young people in developing the policies that will impact them.
He said, “It is true, we need to listen to young people, but best practice is to go a step further and ensure young people are included in writing the policies and laws that will impact their lives and their opportunities.”
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He also highlighted the importance of practical opportunities, saying: “Academia is important, but we need to provide enablers for youth to participate in the workforce, to practice, to make mistakes, to volunteer, to be innovative.”
Mishaal Al Subaie, Deputy Director-General of the Public Authority for Youth in Kuwait, stressed the importance of recognising the varying needs of young people.
When discussing Kuwait’s flagship youth engagement program Kuwait Listens he said: “Kuwait Listens ensures the young people of Kuwait are incorporated into the policymaking of the country. We focus on youth, but the nature of our focus varies by institution and industry. The different developments and aspirations of young people mean there is a need to develop institutions specifically designed to enable them.