MENA Youth

Sixty percent of the Arab population is less than 30 years old, making it one of the youngest populations in the world. Finding opportunities to include these young people is one of the most pressing issues within the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) and beyond. Young people struggle with economic exclusion and are facing poor outcomes with youth unemployment rates of over 30 percent in some countries.

There is an urgent need among Dutch actors working with or in the Arab world to understand developments in the MENA region, in particular regarding the way these challenges affect the young generation. What happens in one region inevitably affects the other. Although problems in the MENA region need to be solved as locally as possible and by societies and governments in the region, European governments, businesses and civil society have an important role to play in supporting their MENA counterparts in building inclusive societies with opportunities for youth.

The GMOP is committed to addressing these urgent youth challenges in the Netherlands. For instance, we have developed a booklet in which we offer recommendations for the Dutch policy on International Trade and Cooperation. These recommendations were formulated by a diverse group of over 40 experts on youth employment and participation in the MENA region.

One of these recommendations was to collaborate with youth and youth organizations in the region, by supporting local networks and non-governmental organizations where youth can make an impact and be socially involved in their community. Positive role models are essential in this situation. However, there aren’t enough of these role models for young people in the region, particularly young women.
This is why GMOP experts launched the Dreamcatchers project: A series of video portraits highlighting young people from the MENA region who have achieved something extraordinary or innovative despite their background or circumstances. The project’s goal is to reach out to MENA youth and introduce them to the role models of the Dreamcatchers.

Furthermore, we published articles to shed light on the youth in the region and we have recorded a podcast as well in which we discussed the opportunities and challenges with young people from the MENA-region.

We also remain committed to encouraging Dutch policies to develop a strategy on the new generation in the Middle East and North Africa. A strategy to help find the MENA youth meaningful and sustainable employment. A strategy to support opportunities for participation of MENA youth in their respective societies, in local and central governments and in civil society institutions. A strategy to help the MENA youth shape their own future.

Feel free to reach out.

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