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Khalid Al-Mulla Director Youth Department Youth General Authority Doha – Qatar

The State of Youth Policies in the Arab Region


In every country of the world, the youth of today significantly fall into different categories. There are youth who are exceptionally talented; there are those who are handicapped, some youth are befallen with delinquent traits while there are those with outstanding leadership qualities. Whatever categories of youth exist in any Society, it becomes mandatory on the part of society to provide their children and young people with the opportunity to develop maximally their potential and abilities within the society. After all, today’s youth are subsequently the leaders of tomorrow.

The system of providing children and youth the opportunity to develop their potentials and abilities requires definite strategic actions peculiar to each society.

In general, however, strategies are meant to provide the task of building bridges to bring young people into the society in which they belong. For this as well as for many other related reasons, the International Council on National Youth Policy (ICNYP) was established and legally registered in Austria in 2002 as an international non-profit organization of intergovernmental, non- governmental and expert nature dedicated to national youth policy.

UN Resolution 56/117 of 2001

youth policies, to provide advisory services to strengthen capacities for such policies, and to allocate increased resources in country programmes to support national youth policies.

Since then, however, there have been only limited follow-up initiatives. Most of the United Nations and bilateral agency development programmes, provide much greater support to sectoral interventions (e.g. education employment and health etc.) than to cross-sectoral national youth policies. In the 21 Countries of the Middle East and North Africa region, for example, only Bahrain, Yemen, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Qatar have recently initiated the preparation of national youth policies and strategies.

There remains a strong need for greater attention to issues such as youth participation in democratic reform and governance and encouraging cross- sectoral work on priority development needs. The needs and aspirations of youth must be dealt with on a cross-sectoral basis by, for and with youth as active participants.

Likewise, there is a responsibility to ensure that the younger generation not only learn how to

contribute to this process, but are given the specific and sustained opportunities to participate actively in all aspects of democratic reform and governance.

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly Resolution 56/117 of December 19, 2001, called upon all States and relevant actors concerned to make every possible effort towards the implementations of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the year 2000 and beyond by promoting cross-sectoral

National Youth Policies – Middle East and North Africa

The preparation of national youth policies and strategies of the 21 Countries of the Middle East and North Africa could best be perceived through the findings of a research study



conducted from November 2004 – May 2005 by the Secretariat of the International Council on
conducted from November 2004 – May 2005
by the Secretariat of the International Council
on National Youth Policy (ICNYP) on a summary
of the Comparative Analysis of National Youth
Policy funded by the German Development
Cooperation (GTZ).
The analysis of the study revealed the various
effort and actions being considered or taken on
the global as well as regional bases. At the
regional level, much action was found taken
since international youth year (1985) to promote
cross-sectoral and integrated national youth
policies and programmes, but progress has been
uneven. Considerable progress was found to
have bveen made in Commonwealth and Western
European countries in particular.
Despite much progress made in those
Commonwealth and Western countries, there
has been little progress in the Arab region in
particular due to several problems.
To guarantee the rights of children in the
society where they live;
To ensure participation of children in
democratic policies;
To promote open talk through seminars,
conferences, workshops, meetings, trainings,
etc. and to learn how to accept others’ news;
To organize activities which assist in
development of skills;
To teach the children what their rights are
and how to fight for such rights;
To teach the children’s participation in cultural
activities as well as activities portraying
children’s rights;
To develop children’s mind, talents and
To collect children’s thoughts and opinions
and use the media to express such thoughts
and opinions;
To maintain international relations and
exchange opinions with children of the Arab
In the first place, the Arab Council of Ministers of
Youth and Sports has given more sustained
attention to youth and sports than to youth policy
Secondly, the problem of developing an active
civil society in the Arab world has presented
major problems for the Arab world to develop
national youth policies with a major focus on
national youth participation. Without an active
civil society, many countries have problems
developing and implementing an effective cross-
sectoral national youth policy with youth
participation in all phases. Definitely, there are
political constraints in the Arab region.
For the implementation of the parliamentary
decisions on children’s rights, 20 Articles were
formulated to guide the executive. Participants in
the parliament should be between 12 and 18
years old with four boys and girls as members of
the parliament from each of the Arab League
Arab League Meeting 2005
At the end of the Khartoum meeting, the
decisions to be implemented were sent to all
the 22 Arab League Countries to guide the
pursuance of proper youth policy in each of
the Arab League Countries. It could be said,
therefore, that the 2005 Khartoum meeting
on the children’s parliament has been the
proper birth of the establishment of youth
policies in the Arab World.
However, at the meeting of the Arab League
held in Khartoum in May 2005, a decision
was made by the 22 Countries of the Arab
League to establish a children’s parliament
through the Arab League.
Bahrain Youth Parliament: Definition of youth,
14-18 years.
The objectives of the children’s parliament are
among others:
Objective of Parliament
The objective is to develop educational as well as
social life of the youth and teach them tenets of
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democracy and how to use the parliament in achieving this.

The pace is already set in the Emirates. However, it is hoped that the youth policy and strategy will receive adequate attentions with a view to realizing the objective formulated for the policy.



Bahrain, there are 40 elected members and

40 other non-elected members plus 5 reserves outside the 80 members. Election takes place in December of each year. Each member of


parliament is Bahraini and must be conversant with ideas, etc. of Bahrain. He should possess good qualities of a would-be leader.

Yemen (Youth Shura Council): Definition of youth, 20-25 years. (Youth form more than 50 per cent of Yemen population.)


The responsibility of the youth and active participation by the youth are a very important part of the parliament’s responsibility. All youths can participate in the decision making process regardless of sex, age, religion or handicapping situation.

The Government of Yemen is in process of preparing a National Strategy for children and youth with technical assistance from the World Bank and NICEF. The preparation of the National Strategy (including the action plan) is a continuation of the process that was launched during the preparation of the Child Protection Strategy by UNICEF and disadvantaged children study by the world bank. Both documents focused mainly on the situation of and interventions for children with special needs (child labour, disabled, street children, orphans, juvenile delinquents and girls). While the study findings provided useful insights into the situation of these children, it also indicated the need for a more integrated approach to children and youth protection and development, and for developing a strategic line of action to guide the policies and programmes for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

Recently, Bahrain took into action the views and visions of young women and young men for inclusion in the formulation and design of the national youth policy of the country and made it


priority to encourage active participation of

youth in the decision making processes and in the life of the society as part of the national youth policy.

However, Bahrain has evaluated her national youth policy action plan on an irregular basis and performance indicators have seldom been used.

United Arab Emirates (Sharja)

Yemen will be the first pilot country to prepare a National Strategy drawing on the strategic (life cycle) framework and a multi-sectoral approach to analyze and address the issues of children and youth.

Sharja Youth Council for Boys & Girls:

Definition of youth, 12-19 years.


The main objective of the Sharja Youth Council is

Objective The overall objectives are:


build the character of the youth, discuss their

needs and how they effectively participate in the democratic system of the nation. Boys and girls are also to be trained in open discussions within the council meetings to discuss their needs, projects and participation at all levels.

To provide “common” understanding of the risks facing children and youth; Identify the “GAPS” and “LINKAGES” across sectors beyond the existing sector work affecting outcomes for children and youth; Propose recommendations that meet the following objectives:

(a) Integration of “gap” policy programme in the respective sector with “linkages” to interventions in other sectors.

The Sharja Youth Council focuses special attention on the adolescents who have a lot of adjustment to make in order to conform to the needs and aspirations of the society.



(b) Provide basic parameters to develop the action plan that will forge cross-sectoral collaboration with
(b) Provide basic parameters to develop the
action plan that will forge cross-sectoral
collaboration with clarity of roles and
responsibilities, benchmarking of funding
of each sector.
The strategic objective is aimed at promoting the
active involvement of young people in
implementing programmes and programmes of
civil society organizations at the national levels.
The mode of implementation is on a provincial
basis. Each province has 40 girls and 50 boys
from the capital; all other provinces have 21 boys
and girls. The total number of youth is 111; they
come from NGOs, Political Parties, Youth Organ-
isations, Handicapped Associations, Professional
Associations, etc. meeting three times a month.
The Government and the NGOs provide money
for the youth activities.
While, the action plan is to be reviewed every two
years, the national youth strategy will be reviewed
in five years from the year of formulation.
Definition of youth: 15–25 years.
In Yemen, a strategy paper is under preparation;
upon the completion of the strategy paper, a
National Conference will be held to agree on the
timetable for preparing action plans.
In realization of the fact that greater attention
should be given to active youth participation in all
aspects of the processes, a youth parliament has
been inaugurated in Qatar with the following
Legal definition of youth: 12-30 years. Youth form
about 40 per cent of the country’s population.
The main theme of the National Youth Strategy of
Jordan is ‘participation’ which also defines various
objectives that deal with participation:
Development of skills of all youth;
Respect for democracy and democratic
Respect for other personalities and opinions;
Exchange of ideas and experiences with youth
organizations of Arab and international
Active participation in social and environmental
Institutionalize democracy through strength-
ening youth political participation.
Strengthen youth participation in economic
life, especially within the labour force.
Strengthen youth participation in community
and cultural life.
All members of the youth parliament must be
Qataris who must respect the rules and
regulations of the council.
The national youth strategy is aimed at young
Jordanian women and men between 12 and 30
The parliament has one head, two assistant
heads and one secretary general. There are also
heads for health and governmental committees
supporting democracy and information. The
parliament meets once a month and receives its
funds from the state government.
In 2002, the UNICEF Jordan country office issued
a 230 pages national youth study survey of 8,80
households and called Jordanian youth: ‘their
lives and views’. This study was used as major
database for the national youth strategy.
The mode of operation of youth activities is
through the youth clubs and centres distributed
across the state.
One of the key priority issues is education and
training young people.
The state of Qatar is now actively involved in
preparing a viable national youth policy and is not
too far from achieving it, the policy should be
finalised with the expectation of a smooth and
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unhindered implementation. All hands already are on deck to see this achieved.

opening ceremony at the magnificent Khalifa stadium, to view the pageantry and splendour that only a games opening ceremony can deliver. Participants also had the opportunity to attend a number of sports events where they could witness some of the world’s best athletes competing. In addition, there was a visit to the athlete’s village.


Arab Youth Summer Camp/ Asian Games in Doha

The Doha 2006 Youth Camp was a programme

of the Asian Games designed to educate youth through sport, promote cultural exchange and foster international cooperation all under the Asian Games banner. The Camp involved 180 participants from the 45 participating countries.

There, youth camp participants had the opportunity of visiting their respective team’s headquarters and meeting some of their nation’s greatest athletes.

The Doha 2006 youth camp provided a unique Qatari experience in a safe nurturing environment that models the Olympic ideals of initiative, teamwork, sportsmanship and fair play. The programme challenged, educated, motivated and inspired participants in a fun, exciting and globally aware environment. The aim of the programme was to equip participants with a new- found awareness of the global community, an understanding of the role of the Asian Games in modern society, an international circle of friends, and a sense of empowerment that could make a difference in the world.

The youth camp participants were also given the opportunity of meeting different Qatari people and visiting places of historical, geographical, religious and social significance. The participants also tasted the unique culture and hospitality of Qatar and her people.

The youth camp of 2006 impressively fulfilled the call for youth participation in democratic reform and governance and encouraging cross-sectoral work on priority and development needs. The organization of the youth camp was indeed a unique step in the right direction. It has been the first of its kind in the Arab world.

The camp facilities were situated at ASPIRE Sports Academy which is a state of the art facility built to train young Qatari athletes into elite level sports stars of the future.

The youth camp was operational for 12 days from November 28th, 2006 through December 9th, 2006.


In conclusion, a National Youth Policy can provide both a new vision to improve the situation of youth in a country as well as an action programme to implement that vision by government in partnership with youth organizations.

The youth camp was staffed by a full time professional management team made up of both Qatari and expatriate staff who are all experienced in running youth programmes and events. They were supported by a well-trained volunteer staff during the youth camp programme. The staff all have a wide range of experience in sports, cultural understanding, event planning and manage- ment.

From the prevailing activities related to the state of Youth Policies in the Arab region, it could be concluded that sufficient and greater attention should be given to active participation in all aspects and a sustained and sufficient budget commitment and an action plan to implement the national youth policy in effective and efficient ways. The National Youth Policy should therefore promote active youth participation of young people in the priority issues confronted by government and society. This is a sure way of preparing the youth of today for tomorrow’s leadership.


The programme for the youth camp, 2006 started with the participants attending the Games’



FR Situation de la politique de jeunesse dans la région arabe Khalid Al-Mulla Directeur Department
Situation de la politique de jeunesse dans la région arabe
Khalid Al-Mulla
Department de la jeunesse
Autorité générale de la jeunesse
Doha – Qatar
L’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies, par sa
Résolution 56/117 du 19 décembre 2001,
exhortait les Etats membres et les acteurs
concernés à faire tous les efforts possibles pour
mettre en œuvre le Programme mondial d’action
pour la jeunesse à l’horizon 2000 et au-delà, en
promouvant des politiques de jeunesse
intersectorielles dans l’objectif de fournir des
services de conseil, renforcer les capacités de
mise en œuvre de telles politiques et allouer des
ressources accrues au soutien des politiques
nationales en faveur de la jeunesse.
intersectorielles. Dans les 21 pays du Moyen-
Orient et d’Afrique du Nord, par exemple, seuls
Bahrein, le Yémen, Djibouti, l’Egypte, l’Iran, la
Jordanie, le Liban, la Palestine et le Qatar ont
récemment entrepris de développer des
stratégies et des politiques nationales de
Or, depuis, les initiatives de mise en œuvre ont
été rares. La plupart des programmes de
développement des Nations Unies et des
agences bilatérales soutiennent plus activement
les interventions sectorielles (concernant, par
exemple, l’éducation et la santé) que les
politiques nationales de jeunesse
La préparation de stratégies et de politiques
nationales de jeunesse par les 21 pays du
Moyen-Orient et d’Afrique du Nord a pu être
mesurée grâce aux conclusions d’une étude
conduite de novembre 2004 à mai 2005 par le
Secrétariat du Conseil international sur les
politiques nationales de la Jeunesse (ICNYP) au
sujet d’une synthèse d’une analyse comparative
de la politique nationale de jeunesse financée
par l’Agence allemande de Coopération
technique (GTZ).
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Nationale Jugendpolitiken in der arabischen Region

Khalid Al-Mulla Direktor Abteilung Jugend

Oberste Jugendbehörde Doha – Qatar

Die Resolution 56/117 der Generalversammlung der Vereinten Nationen (UN) vom 19. Dezember 2001 forderte alle betroffenen Staaten und relevanten Akteure auf, alles ihnen Mögliche für die Umsetzung des Weltaktionsprogramms für die Jugend bis zum Jahre 2000 und darüber hinaus zu tun, indem interdisziplinäre Jugendpolitik gefördert, Beratungsdienste zum Ausbau der Kapazitäten für eine solche Politik angeboten und in nationalen Programmen zusätzliche Ressourcen zur Unterstützung der nationalen Jugendpolitik bereitgestellt werden.

Seit dieser Zeit hat es jedoch nur begrenzte Folge-Initiativen gegeben. Die meisten Entwicklungsprogramme der Vereinten Nationen und bilateraler Agenturen bieten wesentlich mehr Unterstützung für Programme in speziellen Segmenten (z.B. Bildung, Arbeit und Gesundheit etc.) als für interdisziplinäre nationale

Jugendpolitik. In den 21 Ländern der Region Mittlerer Osten und Nordafrika haben in der jüngsten Vergangenheit beispielsweise nur Bahrain, der Jemen, Dschibuti, Ägypten, Iran, Jordanien, Libanon, Palästina und Qatar die Ausarbeitung von nationalen Jugendpolitiken und -strategien eingeleitet.

Die Ausarbeitung von nationalen Jugendpolitiken und Strategien in den 21 Ländern des Mittleren Ostens und Nordafrikas konnte man am besten über die Ergebnisse einer zwischen November 2004 und Mai 2005 vom Sekretariat des Internationalen Rates für Nationale Jugendpolitik (ICNYP) durchgeführten Forschungsarbeit zur Zusammenfassung und vergleichenden Analyse der nationalen Jugendpolitik deutlich machen, die von der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) finanziert wurde.