SHARJAH YOUTH SUPPORTED BY RUBU’ QARN FOUNDATION

UAE, Sharjah 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jassem Al Blooshi, Board of Trustees Member of Rubu' Qarn Foundation for Creating Leaders and Innovators, on the objectives of the organization, developing the Emirate's youth, and aims for the coming year.

What was the main reason behind Rubu' Qarn's creation and what are its main objectives?

The Rubu' Qarn Foundation for Creating Future Leaders and Innovators in the Emirate of Sharjah (Rubu' Qarn Foundation) was established in 2016 by HH Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of HH the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. The initiative was conceived to be a platform that will nurture a generation of young leaders in the Emirate of Sharjah and aspires to achieve this by providing young people with a comprehensive array of age-appropriate activities designed to inculcate within them the values necessary to elevate the status of Sharjah at both the national and international levels. The Rubu' Qarn Foundation is an umbrella organization for four Sharjah-based government entities: Sharjah Children Centers, Sharjah Youth Centers, Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah and Sharjah Tatweer Forum. It unifies their respective activities to ensure that messages around innovation and leadership are standardised and tailored for the correct ages. Under Her Highness's guidance, the foundation will invest in youth capacity building and foster the talents of young people, with its overall aim being to contribute to the creation of a positive and developed society that leads to prosperity for all its members.

How would you describe the key results of the four entities: Sharjah Children Centers, Sharjah Youth Centers, Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah, and the Sharjah Tatweer Forum?

The Rubu' Qarn Foundation is a first-of-its-kind local and regional initiative that has a mission to build and develop youth over a period of 25 years. Its creation is significant because it focuses on multiple areas and develops a wide range of skills and capabilities that contribute to building knowledge-based generations. Its ultimate aim is to develop a cadre of young leaders for whom creating, shaping and developing the future will be second nature. One important aspect of the foundation is its commitment to ensuring that its participants receive development-appropriate input. Children aged between six and 12 years in the program enroll at Sharjah Children Centers, which are committed to delivering artistic and educational activities that encompass charitable, communal, and personal development aspects. Its remit is to prepare a generation of children who are united in responsibility, have an abundance of creative skills, who practice national and cultural pastimes and who are equipped with the necessary attributes to become good citizens. Teenagers from 12 to 18 years can join Sharjah Youth Centers, which not only caters for their more mature educational needs but also builds upon the ideas of good citizenship and the inherent values of religious tolerance, multiculturalism, and acceptance of others that are laid down by Sharjah Children Center. At this age, youngsters can also join organisations such as Sharjah Girl Guides and Sharjah Boy Scouts, which teach important life skills, run summer camps, and carry out community initiatives that strengthen societal bonds. Girls can develop the necessary attributes that they will need in their careers at Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah, which accepts 13 to 18 year olds and works to equip them with the skills they need to succeed in their careers. Lastly, from the ages 18 to 25 years, young adult program participants can join the Sharjah Tatweer Forum, a pioneering organization with a strong focus on local, regional, and global issues of importance to Sharjah and the UAE.

What role does Rubu' Qarn play promoting the socioeconomic development of Sharjah?

The Rubu' Qarn foundation believes that civic values and leadership are learned at an early age. It is committed to instilling social and communal values among children during their formative years and then developing these into their adulthood to equip them with the skills they need to best serve their communities in every way, including economically. By doing so, the foundation enables children to develop a mindset and set of ambitions, which they can use in careers that directly and indirectly positively impact their Emirate's economy. The foundation was founded on the principles of creating a cadre of young leaders who can drive the Emirate of Sharjah forward. One important specific initiative for young adults with respect to socioeconomic development is the Sharjah Leadership Program, which was established by the Sharjah Tatweer Forum. Aimed at discovering and developing candidates to become effective leaders of change, the program uses key training sessions covering appropriate management principles and experience-backed learning techniques, and has been formulated to develop leaders who are well informed and focused on the development of Sharjah. Organized under the patronage of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah and Honorary President of Sharjah Tatweer Forum, the program is supported by the Ministry of Economy, Bee'ah Sharjah Environment Company, Emirates Islamic Bank, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sharjah Business Women's Council, Petrofac, SNOC, Sharjah Islamic Bank, Etihad Airways, Sharjah Department of e-Government, and Sharjah University City. Graduates from the program have gone on to work in these private and public sector institutions, thereby creating a circular support system as they help to drive the Emirate's economy forward.

What recent or future projects of Rubu' Qarn have excited you the most?

As a nascent organization, the Rubu' Qarn Foundation has only recently commenced its program of youth leadership development. Its inaugural event took the form of a special session it conducted in partnership with the Emirates Youth Council, where it provided a platform for the country's youth to discuss their concerns and challenges. More than 30 young men and women aged 18 to 30 years participated in the discussions, along with a group of senior government officials and decision makers. Focused on the five key pillars of leadership and national responsibility, social cohesion, building a knowledge economy, creating a world-class healthcare system, and protecting the environment, the event saw the foundation explore in detail the aspirations embodied in the UAE's Vision 2021. The event formed part of what will be an ongoing initiative to engage the younger generation to actively participate in shaping the country's future.

What are your expectations and biggest ambitions for 2017?

The Rubu' Qarn Foundation formalizes and brings under a single umbrella what were before organized but disparate efforts from children and youth organizations in Sharjah to advance innovation and develop a cadre of leaders who will progress UAE society. It represents a new way forward in Sharjah and the UAE leadership's strategy to place the nation among the world's top countries and to ensure the wellbeing, security and stability for all its people. Areas that the foundation is focusing on for the future include entrepreneurship, leadership, creativity and innovation, STEM, 21st century skills, and linking Sharjah's goals with UN Sustainable Development Goals. Throughout the remainder of 2017, the foundation will be working to expand its horizons of cooperation, enhance its existing partnerships, seek new partners and develop more effective methods of communication with national, Arab, and international stakeholders. Rubu' Qarn is going through the process of formalizing a new strategy that will streamline the direction of all four entities into a unified vision, with the direction to be formally announced at the end of the year.