More than 450 young people in the age group 16-32, including international participants, have converged on Qatar for Empower Youth Conference 2018, which got underway on Thursday at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Student Centre.

The three-day event is being organised by Education Above All (EAA) Foundation’s programme, Reach Out to Asia (Rota). HE the Minister of State Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari, and Qatar's Olympian high jumper and world champion Mutaz Essa Barsham were among those spoke at the opening session.

‘Empower 2018’ intends to promote a better understanding of youth leadership, service learning and Global Citizenship, under the theme ‘Youth and Effective Citizenship’. The conference aligns with the Qatar National Vision 2030 that focuses on youth development as one of its key pillars.

In its 10th edition, the conference aims to raise awareness and knowledge as well as build the capacities required to enable young people to take leadership roles in addressing local and international developmental issues that concern them.

There are panel discussions, keynote speeches, workshops, seminars, off-site activities, exhibition, social programme and youth cultural expression.

HE Dr al-Kuwari said the conference comes at an important historical phase in the life of both the leadership and the people of Qatar.

"Our young people have been quick to express their loyalty and exercise their citizenship through their positive interaction with the leadership's orientations. Their expression of a rational behaviour reflected their faith in a culture promoting peace and rejecting hatred as well as their openness to the world more than ever before so that Qatar is a model of coexistence and an incubator for the world’s cultures.

“Our deep-rooted culture has long advocated co-existence. While our ambitions are great our responsibility is greater in terms of creating an enabling environment that gives young people their genuine role as the future capital and focus of investment. We are a young country that has been able to steadfastly face unprecedented challenges and successes under the young leadership represented by His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani,” added HE Dr al-Kuwari.

Barsham said, “Empower 2018 represents a propitious opportunity for the youth to work on developing their skills, knowledge and attitudes to achieve the desired change on a personal and national level and help accomplish their country’s sustainable development and prosperity, contributing to the Qatar National Vision 2030."

While expressing his sincere gratitude to the Rota management for its belief in the abilities and competence of the youth, Rota executive director Essa al-Mannai thanked the youth for their thoughts and hard work to plan and execute the Empower Conference for 10 years.

“We see Empower 2018 as an opportunity to realise youth potential for positive change, create a platform for youth voice and provide them the opportunities that would help them realise their full potential."

Researcher Mohamed al-Hashmi said: "Education Above All believes in the empowerment of youth to become capable and productive citizens. To achieve this, Rota seeks to achieve several aims through the Empower Conference as it facilitates a forum for exchange of ideas, projects and reflections that address local needs and global issues, equip participants with the tools and knowledge for enabling them as loyal, and active citizens with a positive outlook towards service, and increase awareness of leadership.”

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