International youth-led organization, AIESEC, brought together over 250 young people from across the Middle East and Africa to debate a range of social, economic, and environmental issues, at its recent Youth Speak Forum hostedat De Montfort University, Dubai. The conference convened an audience of 150 in-person delegates and over 100 virtual participants from 30 countries and saw ten guest speakers share their insights into emerging trends across business and society.
Built around the theme of work in a post-covid-19 economy, the four-day event included two days dedicated to interactive discussions on what future employment will look like in the context of environmental change and digital transformation. The delegates came together in a task called the SDG Challenge, which aimed to prompt participants to think up solutions surrounding their own environment. The event also focused on how the youth can contribute to specific United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including, quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, and climate action.
Day one of the Forum began with an opening ceremony featuring a traditional Emirati dance performance, organized by Dubai Tourism. The event continued with speakers from the United Nations Development Programme, the Rotatory Club of Dubai, IBM, and SAP, who covered topics ranging from the role of youth in sustainable development, to future skill needs and the impact of technology in shaping the workforce. The first day concluded with AIESEC’s own adaptation of ‘Global Village’, showcasing the traditional dress, cuisine and entertainment of the delegates’ home countries.
The program for the second day featured practical sessions focused on skills development and careers advice, as well as keynote speeches on the subject of financial inclusion, by United Arab Bank, and sustainability reporting, by a representative of the World Bank. Delegates received expert guidance on how to build their career through the global networking platform, LinkedIn, and the day concluded with a session on life skills for youth.
Speaking about the event, AIESEC’s Middle East and Africa Regional Manager – Business Development, Marilyn Obeten, said, “The Youth Speak Forum provides an influential platform for young people to interact and exchange ideas on the challenges and solutions surrounding the issues affecting them now and in the future. This year’s event brought together powerful messages from our speakers and a host of self-development opportunities for our delegates, and we hope everyone involved now feels energized to take forward their experience to make an impact in their own communities.”
Ahmed Nadzry, who represents AIESEC’s Regional Support Team in the UAE added, “We were delighted to welcome so many delegated from overseas to join us in Dubai for this celebration of cultural diversity and youth leadership. I would like to extend my thanks to our local partners – De Montfort University, Dubai Business Events, Emirates, IBM, UNDP, SAP, and United Arab Bank – for helping us to make this event a success.”
The Youth Speak Forum delegation concluded the event with a visit to Dubai Expo 2020.