The IGNITE TechTalk conference in Beirut, Lebanon, powered by Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation and SPARK brought together 150 experts and stakeholders in AI, digital technologies, youth employment, entrepreneurship, and higher education development. Discussions centred around the future of jobs, addressing the skills gap between education and the labour market, and emphasising the importance of innovation within tech entrepreneurship.
Beirut, Monday, 19 June 2023. The IGNITE TechTalk conference, powered by Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation and SPARK, held at Lebanon’s American University of Beirut, addressed the impact of the global digital revolution, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic on the future of jobs for Lebanon’s youth.
The conference brought together 150 experts and stakeholders involved in job creation for youth, including policymakers, business leaders, NGOs, higher education specialists, tech startups and donors to discuss the opportunities and challenges related to digital upskilling and jobs for youth in Lebanon and the Middle East.
The conference was opened by Mr. Fadlo Khuri, President of the American University of Beirut, and Mrs. Danah Dajani, Director of Programmes and Partnerships at Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation. Addressing the importance of leveraging the changes brought in by the advancement of technology, Ms. Dajani said: “At a time where advanced technology is reshaping industries and economies, education must adapt to ensure the empowerment and upskilling of MENA youth. With the increase in demand for a tech-savvy workforce, equipping MENA youth with the necessary digital competencies is a key driver of their future success enabling young individuals to become active participants in the digital economy, creating a positive ripple effect on their lives, communities, and nations. As enablers in this space, our Foundation is proud to share our learnings today at this event that will support foster a future-ready workforce that thrives in the digital landscape, accelerates innovation, and paves the way for sustainable development in the region.”
The opening panel brought together Achraf Bouali, Head of Office at OECD, Dina Sherif, Executive Director of Legatum Center at MIT and Giorgia Varisco, Chief of Adolescent and Youth Programme of UNICEF Lebanon. The conversation centred around how to empower the Arab youth though upskilling and jobs in the digital age. Sherif: “We need #Edtech platforms more and encourage the youth at the school level to prepare them what’s to come. Moreover, values, values, values, these need to be at the core of our education.”
SPARK’s Director of Programmes, Mr. Michel Richter, delivered a closing speech in which he highlighted the efforts of SPARK and Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation in establishing pathways toward sustainable employment and changing the lives of youth. “SPARK is very excited to partner with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation and organise this regional event series on digital jobs for youth throughout the Middle East. Partners across sectors need to collaborate to facilitate young men and women, including refugees, better and create new opportunities for those who need these the most.”
About Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation
The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation (AGF) is a leading philanthropic organisation focused on empowering Emirati and Arab youth for sustainable development through innovative education solutions and partnerships. AGF supports high-quality technology-based education and skill development for successful transitions to higher education and the job market. Established in 2015, the Foundation is dedicated to realising UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in education. AGF actively participates in the United Nations Global Compact, following its principles-based responsible business approach.
The Al Ghurair Thought Leadership Series is a series of discussions launched by the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation to encourage greater collaboration between stakeholders from different sectors, who are dedicated to achieving Sustainable Development Goals by supporting youth in their education to (self)-employment journey.
SPARK is an international non-governmental development organisation active throughout the Middle East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, and Europe. For over 28 years, SPARK has been creating pathways for young people to rebuild their futures. SPARK provides opportunities for youth, particularly women and refugees, to study, work and grow their own businesses in fragile communities by providing higher (vocational) education scholarships, entrepreneurship development and SME support.
About IGNITE by SPARK:
The annual IGNITE conference in Amsterdam is organised by SPARK in collaboration with donors, sponsors, and local partners. This event brings together 450 international stakeholders, pioneers, and experts, including entrepreneurs and students, to discuss and explore practical solutions for job creation, early recovery, and economic development in fragile and conflict-affected states in the Middle East and Africa. Recent IGNITE partners have been: IFC, IKEA Foundation, IsDB, QFFD, NLMFA, DIHAD, Al Fakhoora, City of Amsterdam, and many others. SPARK organises the next IGNITE conference in Amsterdam in May 2024.