UAE young given voice on world stage
DUBAI // Seven young people are about to rub shoulders with Desmond Tutu, Bob Geldof, Muhammad Yunus, Jamie Oliver and other major figures at a global leadership summit.
They will represent the country as delegates at the second One Young World, a forum for young people with leadership potential.
The summit in Zurich, Switzerland, which runs from tomorrow until Sunday, will bring together the world's "youngest, brightest and best", organisers say, and give them a platform to voice their concerns, opinions and solutions.
More than 1,100 delegates aged 25 and younger from 171 countries will take part.
Archbishop Tutu, Geldof, the Grameen Bank microfinancing pioneer Mr Yunus and the celebrity chef Oliver will be attending as counsellors to pass on their knowledge and experience.
Other counsellors will include: Wael Ghonim, who ran the Facebook page that helped to spark the revolution in Egypt; the Medecins Sans Frontieres co-founder Bernard Kouchner; the L'Oréal chairman and chief executive Jean-Paul Agon; and the singer Joss Stone.
But the big names will all take a back seat to the young people.
The counsellors' role will be to introduce each of the delegate speakers, who will share their views and visions with the audience. At the end of the session, the counsellors will informally chat with the delegates.
Fatima Al Khateeb, an Emirati delegate, is in no doubt about which of the counsellors she wants to meet most.
"I'm very eager to speak to the interfaith dialogue counsellor Desmond Tutu, an activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate," she said.
"Interfaith dialogue has been one of my main interests since I was young and I am truly passionate about it."
Ms Al Khateeb hopes that being a delegate will allow her to gain leadership skills that will benefit her in everyday life and in her career.
"I hope that I will be able to take important lessons with me back home that will help my society grow and give me a better leading role," she said.
"As an Emirati, it is a great pleasure to represent my country at such a global and prestigious event."
Another UAE delegate, Mai Shoeib, is also looking forward to hearing Archbishop Tutu's views on interfaith dialogue.
"Listening to a phenomenal figure speak about such an important subject that affects our world so strongly will be very inspiring," Ms Shoeib said.
"The summit is a great opportunity for me to meet young people from all over the world.
"As a young Arab Muslim woman, I hope to take on insightful conversations with youth from all over the world who might have a misguided perception of young women in the Arab and Muslim world."
Another Emirati delegate, Jassim Al Nowais, added: "I hope to gain knowledge from the people that are attending the summit, hear their points of view on what's happening today and what can be done to have a better future."
And Maha Yaqoot Juma Harqoos said: "It's a great opportunity for youth to come together and share their thoughts and speak their minds to those who are in power. The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow."
The not-for-profit event, held for the first time last year in London, is the brainchild of two leading names from the advertising industry: David Jones, the global chief executive of Havas and its Euro RSCG Worldwide subsidiary; and Kate Robertson, the group chairman of Euro RSCG.
"We wanted to get to young future leaders, put inspiring figures in front of them and give them a physical sense of being one global community," Ms Robertson said.
After the summit the delegates will become ambassadors for One Young World and will be encouraged to launch projects to bring about change.
Ms Robertson, a South African who lives in London, said she was expecting big things from the delegates from the UAE and elsewhere in the Arab world.
"They're coming from the hot news area of the year," she said.
"I think it's absolutely vital for them to feel part of the greater global family and for the Arab nations to be taking up leadership roles."
Published: August 31, 2011 04:00 AM