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Education Above All Foundation Kicks Off Annual Youth Conference

The Education Above All (EAA) Foundation’s Reach Out to Asia (ROTA) program has officially launched its 15th annual EMPOWER Youth Conference. The two days of the conference take place in the Equestrian Club Halls in Al Rayyan. This year’s conference theme, “The Role of Youth in Times of War and Conflict,” has already sparked a significant dialogue among over 200 participating Qatar-based youth and abroad, and the opening ceremony set a compelling tone for a series of engagements designed to harness the energy and potential of young leaders in addressing global conflicts.

The opening ceremony started with a dialogue involving renowned Palestinian journalist Ahmed Hijazi, moderated by Noor Al Thani, EAA Youth Advocate, who facilitated an intimate discussion about the dire situation in Gaza. Another highlight was the panel discussion titled “Relief Efforts in Perspective: Qatar’s Role in Regional Conflicts,” featuring Mr. Ahmed Al Rumaihi, Director of External Affairs at Qatar Charity; Mr. Sahir Mohyudin, Senior Protection Officer at UNHCR; Dr. Moataz Al Fegiery, Head of the Human Rights Program at Doha Institute for Graduate Studies; and Ms. Sarah Keshaish, Enterprise Development Officer at Silatech, with Ms. Salwa Kuwari, EAA Youth Advocate, serving as the Moderator. The conference also included powerful messages from conflict zones such as Palestine and Sudan, delivered through a short film titled ‘The Power of Youth in Times of War and Conflict’.

The EMPOWER 2024 conference is not just a platform for dialogue, but a catalyst for action. It is designed to galvanise youth advocacy efforts in response to global conflicts and equip participants with the necessary skills for responsible social media engagement regarding war and conflict. By fostering a deeper understanding of humanitarian crises and encouraging a proactive stance among youth towards global peace efforts, the conference aims to empower youth as pivotal agents of change.

The speakers for EMPOWER 2024 are both diverse and dynamic, carefully selected to engage and inspire the youth audience with their unique perspectives on conflict and peacebuilding. Among the speakers are Khalid Albaih, Head of Programs at Liwan, Design studios and Labs at Qatar Museums, Mohammed Alnass, the acclaimed young Libyan filmmaker and activist, and Niina Kylliainen, a Senior Climate Change Specialist from the regional UNICEF Office, as well as many others!

As the conference progresses, participants will engage in a series of workshops, panel discussions, and interactive sessions. These activities aim to develop practical advocacy skills and insights. The culmination of these discussions will be crafting the EMPOWER 2024 Youth Declaration, which will articulate youth’s commitments to addressing global conflict challenges.

EAA’s Executive Director for Reach Out to Asia (ROTA), Abdullah Al Abdulla, said: “At EMPOWER 2024, we are dedicated to harnessing youth’s vibrant energy and innovative spirit to address some of the most pressing global challenges. This conference is not just an event; it’s a platform for young voices to shape their future and influence the global discourse on peace and conflict resolution. We believe that empowering our youth is investing in a brighter, more resilient future.”

The EMPOWER 2024 Exhibition, a key component of the conference, is a collaborative effort that offers a vibrant showcase of creative expressions themed around ‘The Role of Youth in Times of War and Conflict.’ This curated collection includes a variety of mediums thoughtfully created by young local artists. These artworks not only reflect the intense emotions and complex narratives associated with global conflicts but also serve as a powerful form of advocacy and awareness. The exhibition is a testament to the role of art in fostering dialogue and understanding, providing attendees with a deeper, more personal insight into the themes discussed at the conference.

The success of the EMPOWER 2024 conference is greatly bolstered by its collaboration with esteemed strategic and implementing partners, each contributing their unique resources and expertise to the event’s goals. Strategic partners include the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) -EAA strategic partner-, the Qatar Museums (EMPOWER 2024 Funder), which enriches the conference by integrating cultural and artistic insights into the dialogue, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, which plays a crucial role in promoting youth development and engagement in Qatar, and several United Nations agencies like UNICEF, UNESCO, UNHCR and ILO, providing international perspectives and support. EMPOWER 2024 is further enhanced by working alongside key implementing partners such as Doha Debates and the Doha Institute of Graduate Studies, who both bring unique perspectives, resources, and expertise to engaging youth in meaningful and impactful ways.

Reach Out to Asia (ROTA) operates under the auspices of the EAA Foundation and is known for its dynamic engagement in global issues, particularly in empowering youth through educational and advocacy platforms. This initiative continues to foster the involvement of young leaders in global peace and humanitarian efforts.

Started in 2009, Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani, Vice-Chairperson of Education Above All Foundation, EMPOWER is the first youth-led conference in Qatar to focus on equipping young people to take active roles in building their communities and having a voice on global issues. It is a chance for youth between ages 16 and 30 to take part in experiential learning and cross-cultural exchange of ideas and discover a sense of belonging to a common humanity, shared values, and responsibilities.

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