This spring, Arab young people joined their contemporaries from around the world at a national service-learning conference held in New Mexico. At a panel called “Youth Leadership in the Arab World Post 9/11,” the participants countered negative stereotypes of Muslim youth today and shared their values, accomplishments, and aspirations for their region and the world. The conference drew nearly 3,000 participants.
The panel was just one initiative of the larger Arab Young Leaders Program, sponsored by EDC and Jusoor Arabiya, a leadership and consultancy center in Kuwait. The first of its kind in the Middle East, the program aims to promote more organized, visible, and moderate voices in the region by enhancing the development and leadership skills of young people. With 60 percent of the population of Arab countries under the age of 24, this mission is imperative, according to EDC’s Hisham Jabi, who manages the Ruwwad Youth Volunteers for Community Assistance Program in the West Bank and Gaza.
“There is a lot of energy here, but the young people are not well connected to one another,” says Jabi. “We want to build bridges among youth in Arab countries.”
Originally published on April 30, 2007