COMING OF AGE

Kuwait 2016 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | FOCUS: YOUTH EMPOWERMENT

Investments focused on supporting young people in Kuwait—who form the lion's share of the population—are gaining increased momentum as the country consolidates its plans for the future.

Categorized as all Kuwaitis in the country between the ages of 14 and 34, the youth of the country represents the largest demographic group in the Gulf nation at over 60% of the total population. As authorities work to transform the country into the region's leading financial and commercial hub and enhance its economic competitiveness, Kuwait is increasingly focusing on developing the potential of its youth to pave the way forward.

These initiatives are being spearheaded at a government level by the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs, one of the youngest ministries in the country, in operation now for just two years. The Kuwaiti government has acknowledged the urgency and importance of providing ample resources and the right environment for the youth to thrive, lead, and have the freedom to both voice their ideas and see them through—particularly in terms of shaping national policy and allowing for entrepreneurial activity to take place in the local economy.

In light of Kuwait's growing emphasis on the youth demographic, the government is making a revamping of policies and infrastructure that affect the youth a top priority. To do this, the establishment of Kuwait's Ministry of State for Youth Affairs as well as the National Youth Council will play a key role in establishing a National Youth Policy for the country. The Undersecretary at the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs, HE Sheikha Al-Zain Al-Sabah explained how the aims of the Youth Council as well as crucial areas of the Youth Policy of Kuwait were being pursued in a focused manner: “To engage youth even further in national policy, MYA is working closely with key decision-makers on the formation of National Youth Council. This council will be charged with drafting key changes to some of the nation's dated legislative mandates in a number of different fields. In addition, through its programs and interventions, MYA is striving to systematically address critical constraints to youth development, such as labor market controls, business regulation limitations, an ill-serving public educational system, and a bureaucratic and dated administrative infrastructure.”

Reflecting Kuwait's desire to make the youth a priority for government, the country launched an award initiative entitled “Kuwait's Award for Youth Excellency and Creativity,” designed to foster the talent and creativity of the youth by encouraging them to submit work in various areas such as health, sport, education, media, culture and arts, entrepreneurship, volunteer work, science and technology, Sharia sciences, urban planning, architecture, and housing. The award was launched in November 2015 and is the first of its kind in the Arab world.

Investment in Kuwait's youth is not only a priority of the government, but also for private sector institutions and NGOs that are adding value to the opportunities being created. Key organizations such as INJAZ, LOYAC, The Proteges, and AIESEC, working both in-country and abroad to provide education, training, and community service programs for the youth to bolster their development.

The Youth Empowerment Symposium is another major youth development initiative in Kuwait. It celebrated its 4th year running in 2015, and is held annually under the patronage of HH the Amir of Kuwait and features several local and international industry experts in business, technology, economics, and media who emphasize the importance of developing oneself through education. They motivate young people to continue to embrace the resources available to them and strive for constant improvement of their skills in today's rapidly-changing economy

The size of the youth demographic coupled with its potential to shape the country's future are two reasons why both government and non-government institutions are paying more attention to this segment. Particularly unique in the national youth strategy is the focus on developing entrepreneurially creative youths, who are able to innovate and embrace the rapid speed at which the globally-connected economy evolves through media and the use of technology. Provided they take advantage of the resources and opportunities at their disposal, the youth of Kuwait will play a crucial role in shaping the long-term national strategy.