Kawtar Zerouali , Project Manager


Arab Youth participating in Youth Leadership Programme II that took place in Kuwait city

Youth represents one third of the Arab region’s population. In an effort to build on the youth’s strengths within the Arab region, UNDP launched Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) to encourage young people to hone and develop their leadership skills and apply their ideas into their communities, locally and globally.

YLP is a 6-month program that consists of national, regional, and global opportunities that operate in tandem to offer participants well-rounded capacities and world-views. Below, you will find specific stories of experiences and successes that took place within the past two years under YLP.

Youth Leadership Programme 1

Haitham Sirihi, a participant of YLP 1 from Tunisia, gained insight from his experience at the programme. After his participation in YLP, he began actively working with specialized institutions to help build the capacities of disabled men and women by encouraging their right to be included in the political process in Tunisia, building on his belief that “the only way to change the reality for people with disabilities is to ensure that they are included in the decision making process.” Thanks to Sirihi’s experience with YLP 1, he was able to return to his home country and implement what he learned back into his community by being active in a movement he is passionate about.

Youth Leadership Programme 2

The regional workshop for YLP 2 took place in Kuwait in 2016 building on the national workshops and trainings. The workshop included a multitude of activities that were designed to hone youth leadership skills, entrepreneurial development, and social awareness. The theme for the workshop was “Innovation for Sustainable Development” which involved activities such as “hands-on technical learning sessions, debates, educational games covering a range of topics such as the SDGs, innovation, adaptive leadership and gender equality”. The workshop gave a platform for the youth participants to network amongst each other and refine their ideas for social change in their respective fields of interests. At the workshop, the youth presented their unique initiatives to a panel of experts and specialists who selected 12 as the top change makers.

Waad Hayef Alhlaili, a YLP 2 participant from Kuwait and gender equality advocate, is in the process of opening Kuwait’s first shelter for women who have faced physical or sexual abuse. Alhlaili’s initiative received recognition, as she was one of the top winners during the workshop. Waad used the knowledge and inspiration she gained from the capacity-building workshops to assist her in solving a problem she saw prevalent in her community. Read the related story here.

While reflecting on her experience with YLP, Alhlaili stated: “The programme helped me develop my skills while preparing and designing my project, moreover it helped me build a link between supportive institutions to build partnerships with them to expand my project.”

ECOSOC Conference
On the global level, of the 12 young men and women that were chosen as finalists in the YLP 2program, 7 were able to participate in the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum held in New York. The forum included discussions on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development and provided the attendees the opportunity to participate in discussions with international decision-makers around establishing policies in response to pressing economic, social, and environmental global issues.Read the related story here.

Hult University Partnership
Another success that has resulted from YLP was through a partnership with Hult University located in Massachusetts, USA. This cooperation linked Hult University students taking a class on social entrepreneurship with YLP participants, and allowed the students to research and provide real-world solutions to complex developmental concerns in the Middle East specifically relating the YLP initiatives. Read the related story here.

YLP success stories will only grow in the upcoming years, as the programme plans to continue highlighting the brilliant minds of the youth in the region. The many experiences that the Youth Leadership Programme has provided its participants are key to fostering development-minded youth focused on social change in their communities.

Through national, regional, and global activities, YLP aims to learn from the challenges and successes in YLP 1 and 2, and continue sustainable success in its next stage with YLP 3.

To date, the applications for Youth Leadership Programme 3 have been launched in Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon and United Arab Emirates to start the selection process for the participants of the national workshop. Others are coming. Please follow the hashtag #YLP3 for more updates.

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