July 4, 2016
It has been another exciting year for us in the Young Arab Leaders (YAL) organization. As most of you know, we believe in empowering the next generation of leaders across the Arab world. We are committed to supporting our members’ professional ambitions through networking and educational activities and offering them opportunities to connect, share ideas and access business prospects. Our network includes highly accomplished CEOs, directors, and entrepreneurs of regional and international organizations, all of whom share a common passion of solving the Arab world’s socioeconomic challenges.
Since our inauguration in 2004 at the World Economic Forum in The Dead Sea under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, we have worked hard to build a powerful community of Arab leaders across the region. Together we are creating a positive impact on the region and helping address issues like unemployment and providing quality education. We are proud to say that thanks to the ongoing and dedicated support of our members, YAL has achieved a lot over the years, and we are on our way to achieving much more.
An example of how our network is creating positive social impact is a recent collaboration between two members Abed Shaheen, CEO of InfoFort in the UAE and Juma Al Araimi, Commercial Finance Manager of Oman LNG LLC in Oman. Together the two have created some exciting synergies and long lasting results in local communities in the region. Through the network, Mr. Al Araimi first learned about InfoFort because of its GreenBox initiative, a unique recycling system that reduces paper consumption. As a leader in the Omani community and consistently looking for ways to make the country more sustainable, Mr. Al Araimi has since helped introduce GreenBox to Oman and further spread awareness about the importance of sustainability and environmental awareness.
Commenting on the power of the YAL community, Muna Al Gurg, Chairwoman of Young Arab Leaders said: “The YAL network, if leveraged effectively and efficiently by members, can help support and drive key initiatives in the fields of entrepreneurship, education and sustainability across the region. Social networking is a powerful way to spark meaningful and disruptive change in peoples’ lives and local communities. Our network ultimately is a useful tool to share company news, personal initiatives and ideas to keep the YAL community updated about what you and your business are doing, and where they are headed.”
The GreenBox collaboration between Mr. Shaheen and Mr. Al Araimi however was only the first step in their partnership. After implementing GreenBox in Oman, Mr. Al Araimi also tested and helped introduce InfoFort’s Skillpowerment program to Omani youth and local business leaders. Skillpowerment is a platform that addresses the alarming youth unemployment and poverty rates in the Middle East and Africa and is also leveraged by a number of our YAL members. It links youth with companies that share their skills to better and more efficiently invest in human capital and does not require any financial commitment from those who participate. Since its launch last year, almost 30 organizations, 170 youth and 355 skills have connected and shared resources on the platform. These results are directly aligned with what YAL aims to achieve for Arab youth across the region.
Again, introducing Skillpowerment to Oman was not the end of Mr. Shaheen and Mr. Al Araimi’s unique story. Because of Mr. Al Araimi’s history and knowledge of the local Omani market, and as a leader in the entrepreneur and start-up community, he was then contacted by The Lounge, a membership-based innovation hub in Oman that supports youth through training and workshops. A group of The Lounge’s members, six Omani students enrolled in the College of Banking and Financial Studies in Oman, were actively seeking training on how to apply digitization and technology to their studies. The Lounge sought out Mr. Al Araimi’s counsel and advice on how to find them the necessary training.
Mr. Al Araimi immediately contacted InfoFort, a market leader in the digital technologies space and having recently been named a ‘Cool Vendor’ by Gartner Inc. because of their innovative technologies. InfoFort would be able to offer guidance and support to the students. It was only a matter of minutes before InfoFort decided to sponsor a full week of training for the six students at the InfoFort facilities in the UAE. Their commitment to upskilling themselves, coupled with InfoFort’s willingness to offer them training, is proof of how the YAL network can be leveraged effectively and efficiently to deliver powerful results for young Arabs.
Commenting on the collaboration with InfoFort, Mr. Al Araimi said: “Together we can continue to help train Arab youth to become the leaders of tomorrow. If the YAL network is leveraged correctly, we can have a profound impact on training and developing young Arabs. The training hosted by InfoFort is a clear example of successfully matching students eager to learn with members in the YAL network that are can best provide appropriate training and development programs to further their skill sets. I look forward to further leveraging the YAL network to create more positive social impact across the region.”
As a result of their collaboration, Mr. Shaheen and Mr. Al Araimi are now actively working together in Oman to further support the development of youth, entrepreneurs and start-ups. Their partnership, which started with the introduction of one initiative to Oman, has now developed into a long-term relationship committed to ensuring young Arabs are equipped with the necessary skills and tools to lead bright and sustainable futures.
Highlighting the positive impact the YAL network can have on those that participate, Sami Khoury, Executive Director of Young Arab Leaders said: “Active involvement in the network and commitment to sparking two-way dialogue between youth and business leaders is exactly the way the YAL community is supposed to work. It is cases like this that make it clear that Arab youth can successfully develop their creativity and confidence if they are given access to the expertise and resources the regional support network provides. We encourage you to continue to share your business’ exciting initiatives and developments with the YAL network, so that the power of the organization is fully leveraged. If members continue to take advantage of YAL, I am confident we will further develop a strong network of leaders, ones that can serve as mentors and educators for future generations of Arabs who will follow in their footsteps.”