Sharjah to Ignite Youth Leadership in the 3rd edition of “Investing in the Future”

Themed: “Youth:Crisis Challenges and Development Opportunities”
Jawaher Al Qasimi: “We are committed to advocating youth issues and supporting their contribution in the development process”

Under the patronage of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin MuhammadAl Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah and Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qassimi, Wife of His Highness, Chairperson of the Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, Sharjah is set to host the third edition of the “Investing in the Future” (IIFMENA) conferenceon October 24thand 25th.

The event is organized by The Big Heart Foundation, the Sharjah-based global humanitarian charity dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide, under the theme “Youth: crisis challenges and development opportunities”.

This year’s edition aims to highlight youth-related issues to sustainable development across the world, especially focusing on areas affected by wars, conflicts, and disasters. The event will underscore the role of youth in the development process and how they can shape their future and build their countries. Other included topics are: the importance of development in protecting the young generation from engaging in extremist activities or criminal acts because of circumstances they were forced to live in. The event will facilitate the speakers to discuss challenges and opportunities in creating an effective international investment road map for the future of the youth around the world.

HH Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qassimi said: “Young people should be entitled to a good education, and safe and nurturing environments, but unfortunately, several children in the Middle East and North Africa find themselves caught up in tough situations, which prevent them from shaping their futures in the way they want or live quality lives. The upcoming edition of the Investing in the Future conference will be taking these challenges head on in a bid to alleviate the region’s youth from the sufferings of poverty, displacement, marginalisation and lack of opportunities. IIFMENA is a platform dedicated to bringing the youth face to face with federal as well as social development organisations for an honest, open debate, so as to design strategies that will engage them in their development process. Active representation of and participation by the youth is an effective way to make the process truly collaborative, featuring real partnerships where young people are equal decision makers in building a future for them and their countries.”

Her Highness added: “We want to ensure that voices of young people are heard loud and clear. We want to support them to be able to share their ideas and opinions, and think collectively about what they can do to create a better future for themselves and their communities by contributing to its prosperity. The UAE and Sharjah are committed to protecting the rights of the human being by offering them an environment to thrive in, especially the younger generation. IIFMENA is a key facilitator of this objective and brings together top leaders and advocates in the field to present practical and sustainable ways to develop the skills and capabilities of the region’s youth and discover the right opportunities for them to become influential members of society.”

This year’s conference is taking place at Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre. The first day includes a series of sessions on policies and strategies to improve the circumstances of youth in MENA region. The session willhost government officials, internationalnon-government organizations, top academics, journalists, and experts. The sessions are dedicated to discussing and addressing “Youth Unemployment” issue. Currently, unemployment rates are rising as high as 30% among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years. Participants will also learn more about how this challenge can create a negative impact on the youth’s life, especially considering the demographic and political changes resulting from conflicts, asylum, and migration.

Other discussion topics include: education opportunities for the youthand development of the 21st century skillsetas a part of the modern education system. Speakers will tackle ways to support young entrepreneurs, harness their talents, and explore potentials to achieve economic stability and social security. These are thetwo-keygoalof sustainable developmentagenda. The second day of the conference includes a youth forum that brings together students from MENA countries and representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations. They will discuss the challenges and ways to empower youth socially and economically.

In 2014, the IIFMENA theme was “Protecting Refugee Children in the Middle East and North Africa”. The event gatheredover 300 international figures including leaders and top officials who were concerned with the issues of refugee children. One of the main outcomes of the conference was to establish a set of principles related to the protection of refugee children and adolescents.

The main focus of the 2016 IIFMENA was “Building the Resilience of Women and Girls in the Arab Region”. The two-day event was dedicated to addressing education, as well as women’s economic and social empowerment. The closing session announced the adoption of the ‘Sharjah Declaration’ that aims to strengthen the resilience of women and girls. Also, to promote their role in the economic developmentand protect them from crisis that result from disasters and asylum issues in the Arab region.