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Investing in the Future Conference to Kick-Off on Oct 24

In the presence and under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed al Qasimi, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), UNHCR Emiment Advocate for Refugee Children and Chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (TBHF), the third edition of the ‘Investing in the Future’ international conference (IIFMENA 2018) is to be launched on Oct 24 (Wednesday) at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre in Sharjah.

Held under the theme ‘Youth – Crisis Challenges and Development Opportunities’, the conference is organised by The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based international humanitarian body, the event focuses on humanitarian and development challenges in the MENA region. This year’s edition will highlight youth-related issues in the MENA region, especially those that emerge from war, conflict and natural disasters, and will bring together senior officials, and experts from the UAE and beyond to discuss remedies centred on the role of youth and how they can be more actively involved in the process.

The conference will witness a high-level opening on Wednesday (Oct 24) with a keynote address from His Highness Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi. Over the two days of the event, the IIFMENA platform will be shared by youth figures like Nobel Laureate, Nadia Murad, top diplomat Ahmed Abu Gheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League; and senior UAE officials like His Excellency Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence; and, Dr. Al Anoud Al Sharekh, Researcher on youth and gender demographics.

IIFMENA’s two-day agenda will shine the spotlight on ways governments, civil society, international organisations, academia, private sector can collaborate to involve the region’s youth more effectively in consultative, policy- and decision-making processes, enabling a more inclusive and participatory approach to tackling challenges and offering practical, scalable solutions.

The conference will host top Emirati leaders to focus on youth empowerment issues. The speakers include: Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council and TBHF’s Humanitarian Envoy, Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Dr. Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills in the UAE, HE Hessa bint Eisa Bu Humaid, Minister of Community Development, HE Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment and Board Member of Rubu’ Qarn Foundation and Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan bin Khalid Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Government Relations Department and Chairman of the Higher Committee for Digital Transformation in Sharjah

Day 1 (Oct 24) discussions
The first day’s discussion agenda will cover crucial themes in crisis management and youth development that IIFMENA will host with its key partners. These discussions include the topics, ‘Youth in Conflict & Peacebuilding’ (organising partner: UNHCR); ‘Youth Entrepreneurship as a Catalyst for Growth and Employment’  (organising partner: UNDP); ‘Social Norms and Practices Hindering Young Women Reaching their Potential’ (organising partner: Nama-UN Women); and finally, ‘Life Skills and Citizenship Education in the Middle East and North Africa…a New Learning Agenda for a New Generation’ (organising partner: UNICEF).

Day 2 (Oct 25) discussions
The second day of IIFMENA 2018 will bring to the fore the aspect of youth participation in developmental challenges through specific discussions on ‘Youth Social Media and Creating Positive Change’; ‘Youth and Climate Change’; ‘Inspirational Session – Rally Team’; and conclude with a ‘Youth-led discussion – Youth Participation in MENA Development (organising partner: SOS Children’s Villages).

The conference also aims to recognise youth as agents of change in peace and recovery processes. There is a need for a youth responsive development approach in addition to the need to adopt a coordinated effort in peacebuilding planning. Partnerships must be forged across all sectors, making youth inclusion and participation integral to all strategies, policies and programmes aimed at empowering, protecting and supporting them, including refugees and IDPs.

Individuals and organisations interested to attend in this edition of the IIFMENA conference can register on http://iifmena.org. The conference is a significant step in bringing the world together on one platform to discuss issues of importance and inspire positive change.

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