Stereotypes and biases, of course, are not so easy to overcome. So how do young Arabs plan to overcome these obstacles, and what can youth from around the world do to help their fellow Millennials in the UAE?
In November, Youth Time will organize its annual Global Youth Forum, and this year the chosen location is Dubai where, with the help of their partners at the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare in the United Arab Emirates, the Forum will bring 100 participants from across the globe into the heart of the region. The young adults participating in this event will enhance the nation’s agenda on developing a sustainable knowledge-led society. This agenda has resulted in a massive increase in the popularity of the UAE in the Muslim Middle East. The ninth annual Arab Youth Survey, conducted in 16 countries with over 3 5000 participants, has show that there is a massive gap between the young who live in the wealthy Gulf countries and their neighbors. Research has also shown that the majority of the young people in the region see the UAE as a role model for their own countries. Focusing on the young and creating equal opportunities for them should definitely be on the agenda of every country in the region when you take into consideration the fact that young people represent 60 percent of the overall population of this part of the world.
Despite the fact that UAE has such a good reputation in its back yard, the country’s global reputation is still an issue that young people want to address. On International Youth Day, a conference was held at the Intercontinental Hotel at Festival City, Dubai where young people expressed their concerns about this issue. Hamad Al Majid, a business student attending the conference, stated:”What our country is looking for is how to present itself to people abroad, how to represent Arabs in general and the UAE to people elsewhere. Maybe some people have inaccurate ideas about Arabs in general, but here in the UAE, we want to fix that. We already know the meaning of Islam and the meaning of being Arab, so what we are trying to do in the UAE is to present ourselves accurately to outside countries.“
This issue is being recognized not just by young adults, but also by the Government of the UAE, which is now the biggest supporter of global initiatives and events such as the Global Youth Form mentioned above. Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, sees Arab youth as an emblem of hope and the biggest asset the region has. He also believes that history will remember all the global events that were held there recently such as the solar power project in Morocco, Expo 2020 in Dubai, and the 2020 World Cup, which will be the first World Cup to be held in the Arab world. With so much energy and money invested in reaching the goal of breaking stereotypes, one cannot be pessimistic about the outcome of these initiatives.
If someone is still skeptical about the huge progress made in the UAE, maybe attending the Global Youth Forum and discussing the theme „Ethnical Entrepreneurship in the Time of Competitive Knowledge-based Economy“ will be a golden opportunity to see the UAE personally and form an accurate opinion about UAE youth and Arabs in general.