Empowering the Next Generation of UAE Leaders

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The UAE is working with US partners to empower the next generation of global leaders through programs in government, education, entrepreneurship and more. These exchanges are part of the UAE’s broader efforts to expand the role of youth in society. In 2016, HE Shamma Al Mazrui, then just 22 years old, was appointed UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs. That same year, the UAE established the Emirates Youth Council to help Minister Al Mazrui amplify the voice of young people in critical national discussions.

Investing in youth has made the UAE an attractive place for young people around the region. Young people surveyed in the 2020 Arab Youth Survey named the UAE the top place to live and the country they would most like their own to emulate for the ninth year running. Respondents cited the UAE’s safety, security and broad range of employment opportunities.


During a discussion at the 2020 Y7 Summit, Minister Al Mazrui emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion to formulate more effective government policies. Her remarks helped kick off the three-day virtual summit, an annual youth leadership accompaniment to the G7. Nearly 1,000 participants from around the world, including 150 viewers from the UAE, watched the live session on the first day of the event. HE Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, also addressed the Y7 Summit. In a video message to delegates, he underscored the importance of youth working collaboratively across borders to develop technology solutions to today’s global challenges.

In 2017, the UAE established a state-of-the-art Youth Hub in Dubai with the help of American partners such as Microsoft, General Electric, Ford and Mastercard. The Hub provides young Emiratis a space to connect, develop skills and pursue creative and entrepreneurial projects. It is located just a few dozen yards away from AREA 2071, an ecosystem for startups and accelerators from around the region.

The Dubai-based Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education is another critical outlet for youth in the UAE and across the Arab world. Through a partnership with Arizona State University (ASU), students in the Al Ghurair Foundation’s Open Learning Scholars Program can pursue master’s degrees from ASU Online. In 2018, ASU and the Al Ghurair Foundation teamed up to build a career and university-readiness tech platform for Emiratis called the Al Ghurair Young Thinkers Program. More than 2,000 young Emiratis registered for the platform in the first 72 hours.

The UAE Federal Youth Authority launched a Youth Circles initiative in 2016, giving young people an in-person forum to share their opinions on specific policies and global challenges. During the UN Paris Climate Change Agreement Ratification Ceremony in New York in 2016, the UAE hosted a Youth Circle for students from the UAE and around the world, allowing them to share views with high-level UAE officials.

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