Eng. Zainab Garashi, Chair of WFEO Committee on Young Engineers / Future Leaders (YE/FL), attended the 8th UNESCO NGO FORUM “Youth and their Social Impact” which took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 3-4 may 2017. It was organized in partnership with MISK Foundation.

Day 1

The opening ceremony official speeches were given by 1st H.E. Dr. Ali Nasser Alghafis, Minister of Labor and Social Development, Saudi Arabia, followed by Eric Falt, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Public Information who was also representing the Director-General of UNESCO and lastly by Mr. Philippe Beaussant, Chairperson, UNESCO-NGO Liaison Committee.


Following the opening ceremony the sessions started by the keynote speaker Mr. Jacques Attali, Founder & President, Positive Planet, and then a session by Panel Keynote speaker, H.E. Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs, United Arab Emirates, Setting the scene: “Youth Engagement and its Potential for Social Change” which was a very interesting session as to see a young woman in the Gulf region with this high position it was indeed very inspiring and encouraging.

After the sessions took place the panels on the same topic of “Youth Engagement and its Potential for Social Change” with 5 panel speakers:

  • H.R.H. Banderi A.R. Al Faisal, Director General and Board Member, King Khaled Foundation, Saudi Arabia

  • Ms. Hila Azadzoy, Co-founder and Head of Academics, Kiron Open Higher Education, Germany/Afghanistan

  • Ms. Bahia Hariri, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Member of Parliament, Lebanon

  • Ms. Tanzila Khan, Author & Disabled Rights Activist, Pakistan

  • Mr. Benjamin Lough, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, University of Illinois, USA

The above speakers shared their experiences on the topic and how they deal with relevant issues. In particular Ms. Hila Azadzoy was amazing young woman with a great story.

Eng. Zainab made the most of the opportunities and initiated discussions with most of them and explored ideas and interest among our organization, in particular with H.R.H. Banderi A.R. Al Faisal, Director General and Board Member, King Khaled Foundation, Saudi Arabia as in the panel speech she had stated clearly that they haven’t tackled the area of youth voluntary so Eng. Zainab took the chance and introduced herself and assured to send her our committee strategic planning in order to open collaborations.

After the break Ms. Hayat Sindi, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Co-founder, Diagnostics for All, Saudi Arabia talked in a session under the title “My Advice to My 20-year Old Self”.

Followed by a panel on “Optimizing the Impact of the Digital Native” with the following speakers:

  • Mr. Faisal Al Saif, Saudi Arabia- Moderator

  • Mr. Kamel Al-Asmar, Founder, Nakweh, United Arab Emirates

  • Mr. Jonathan Birdwell, Head of Policy, Institute for Strategic Dialogue, United Kingdom

  • Mr. Dejan Bojanic, Vice-President, European Youth Forum, Sweden

  • Ms. Samiha Khelifa, Associate Professor, Sousse University, Tunisia

The panel sessions were on basic talks, the moderator of the panel was very relevant and vibrant. Eng. Zainab had met with Mr. Dejan Bojanic in person and he assured to open links with young engineers associations in order for European Youth links with us.


After a break, the following speakers have succeeded each other:

  • Mr. Chid Liberty, CEO, Liberty and Justice, speaking related to Creating Social Justice through Economic Opportunity

  • Ms. Khalida Brohi, Founder, Sughar, Pakistan

  • Mr. Manyang Reath Kher, Founder, Humanity Helping Sudan Project, Sudan – Moderator

  • Mr. John Defterios, Presenter, CNN, USA

After the session, Eng. Zainab shared a fruitful discussion with Ms. khalida Brohi, who did an influential and motivated speech.

The breakout sessions that followed covered 3 different themes:

  • Youth Entrepreneurship and Volunteering: Promoting Engagement at Local and international Levels

  • Protection of Cultural Heritage: Can Young People Make a Difference?

  • Using Digital Tools for the Promotion of Social Interaction and Engagement In which it was to attend one of the themes, Eng. Zainab attened the first theme which was Youth Entrepreneurship and Volunteering: Promoting Engagement at Local and International Levels.

Day 2

The highlight of the second day was the keynote speaker Mr. Jimmy Wales, Founder, Wikipedia, USA where he gave a very inspirational speech about his journey.

Eng. Zainab made a comment in the following panel which was dedicated to the subject of “What Skills for Young People today” where they were discussing education and its impact on the youth future and mindset, in which we mentioned about our Young Engineers Future Leaders Strategic planning forum on Stakeholders which we held in different regions as well some of our findings.

The overall event was a very fruitful forum giving an opportunity to open discussions and connections for collaborations.


Report by Eng. Zainab Garashi


For more information:

  UNESCO NGO FORUM 2017 website

  WFEO Committee on Young Engineers / Future Leaders (YE/FL) website

  NGO UNESCO Liaison Committee website

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