Middle East Project

To actively engage students, young professionals and future leaders of the Middle East in the search for new dynamics in the region.

This project responds to the challenges of the political and security environment in the Middle East region that have marginalized and excluded youth in particular. It seeks to engage young people by providing an inclusive platform for diverse perspectives on regional issues through the framework of challenging beliefs.

Building on two previous conferences (in 2016 and 2017), we will hold annual conferences that contribute towards developing innovative and self-sustained initiatives run by youth for youth. More than just a forum for dialogue across divides, our project is also a platform for action: it will establish a hub for the virtual connections that will sustain a network of young people who can be ambassadors of change in their own countries.

This project provides a unique opportunity for a broad range of students and young professional from across the MENA region to engage in debate, discussion, and collaborative analysis, in an atmosphere of impartiality and mutual respect. The conference series is founded on principles of inclusivity and fairness, provided and guaranteed by an Organizing Committee and senior Advisory Board.

Objectives

Our project is designed to engage students, young professionals and future leaders of the Middle East in challenging entrenched beliefs and seeking new dynamics for their future. We provide an inclusive platform for diverse perspectives on regional issues and initiate dialogue among people who do not ordinarily have such opportunities to engage. We connect youth leaders from the region in a series of conferences and workshops, keeping them engaged in inter-regional dialogue and collaboration with one another through virtual means.

The project has the following three objectives:

  • Challenge beliefs and belief systems: The project will promote productive dialogue among the participants on contemporary problems in the region to critically assess beliefs and belief systems.
  • Identify solutions to regional problems: The project will collaboratively identify and create innovative responses to tackle divisions and conflict in the region.  
  • Promote youth leadership in the Middle East: The project will build and enhance regional and local networks of active young individuals (agents of change) who can positively influence their communities and contribute to their development.

Through implementing these three objectives, the project series will enhance mutual understanding and cooperation, reduce mistrust and hostility, and overall contribute to future regional peace and stability.

Implementation

To have the desired impact, the project is based on three mutually reinforcing activities.

  1. Holding an annual conference: “Challenge beliefs and belief systems”

The central activity of this project is the annual conference. The conference hosts about 40-50 young leaders from the region and provides a neutral environment to openly engage with each other, identify common problems, and discuss viable solutions. The conference provides a platform which allows participants to discuss contemporary problems in the region and engage in discussions. The discussions are designed to encourage participants to challenge others and their own beliefs and belief systems.

  1. Developing and supporting the implementation of practical project ideas: “Identify solutions to regional problems”

Each conference will contain tailored working group sessions on the main themes of each conference. During those working group sessions, participants will develop practical and feasible projects to be jointly implemented as a follow-up to the conference. The projects are expected to respond to real needs and challenges in the MENA region and enable participants to be ambassadors of change in their own countries. The collective and continued work on the project ideas and the projects itself further connects and engages the participants after the conference.

  1. Develop an online interactive platform: “Promote youth leadership in the Middle East”

To foster sustainability, this project will actively engage past and new participants in dialogue and discussions throughout the year via an online platform. The platform functions as a database of proposed projects and their innovative potential. It also acts as a collaborative space for participants to continue to work on developing and implementing their project ideas. As such, the platform will strengthen regional engagement and encourage participants to stay connected and become part of a network of young leaders from across the region.

Who we are

The project is implemented by a small group of volunteers forming a dedicated Organizing Committee, composed of six individuals representing various backgrounds: ISYP members, development professionals, and participants from the previous conferences. Together they also represent different regional perspectives. This Committee not only organizes the conference but also facilitates discussions and dialogue during and after the conferences. The work is supported by a Senior Advisory Board composed of leading professionals and academics. This Board advises on conference themes, content and finances. The Organizing Committee regularly reports to and communicates with the Senior Advisory Board members to ensure the successful and responsible implementation of the project.

For enquiries, please contact mena@isyp.org.