DUBAI 18 April 2017: World Expo 2020 Dubai is inviting young people in the UAE to drive and shape the first World Expo ever to be held in the region.
Since its inception, Expo 2020’s Youth Connect has launched several initiatives to ensure that the nation’s youth are a core part of the journey to Expo in 2020 and beyond.
The call was issued on the occasion of Think Science Fair 2017 (18-20 April) at the Dubai World Trade Centre, which the Expo 2020 team sees as an ideal platform for Youth Connect to engage and enjoy a dialogue with young people. It will inspire them and give them the chance to share their own innovative ideas with Expo 2020 Dubai, as well as to express their interest in Expo’s Volunteer programme.
Alya Al Ali, appointed as Director at the age of 24, heads Youth Connect having first joined Expo 2020 Dubai shortly after completing her university studies. This appointment is a reflection of Expo’s commitment to youth and their strong belief that young people are key contributors to both creating an exceptional event and building a meaningful legacy.
“At Expo 2020 Dubai we believe that this generation, my generation, represents a powerful opportunity for the region, using the building blocks of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship that are powered by youth, to create a brighter future. And we see Youth Connect as an avenue for inspiring, empowering and including young people to realise Expo’s vision,” she said.
“We hope young people will capture the opportunity that Expo 2020 offers to build a better future. I invite young people to walk with us on this exciting journey, to connect minds and create the future, to contribute to a bold, new vision that we can call our own. Youth engagement will play a vital role in the success and legacy of Expo.”
Al Ali emphasised that the relationship between Expo and youth was wholly collaborative.
“This is a two-way dialogue. We are here to learn and grow together. We want a long-term and reciprocal interaction with young people, to ensure that Expo is a life-changing, transformative experience for all of us.”
Among the Youth Connect initiatives are:
• Youth Events where we will participate in or hold events that serve as powerful platforms for young people to get inspired and explore different ways to broaden their horizons. They will have the opportunity to create, innovate and explore opportunities through hands-on-experiences and workshops and other activities.
• School roadshows in which nearly 12,000 schoolchildren so far have been given the chance to meet the Youth Connect team, understand Expo’s core theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ and challenged to learn, innovate and are encouraged to play a role in Expo’s journey to 2020 and beyond.
• Youth Labs give young people the chance to shape and define elements of Expo 2020 Dubai, their Expo, and stake their ownership in it. It also keeps participants in the loop on everything Expo 2020, with updates on the latest news, initiatives and ideas. Examples include their direct input to the architects and designers of the landmark Sustainability Pavilion, helping Expo celebrate the UAE’s 50th anniversary National Day, and even contributing to concept plans for the official mascot.
• An apprenticeship programme gave 27 apprentices the chance to take part in nine-month training courses at Expo. This opportunity has now been expanded following last month’s integration with another successful apprenticeship scheme for Emirati graduates run by the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority.
• A volunteer programme will assemble a force of tens of thousands of volunteers of all ages and nationalities, many of them young, to help welcome the world and serve as the face of Expo as a global destination. Many of the volunteers will be young people – and their personalities and enthusiasm will be important in ensuring a positive impression for millions of visitors.
The aspiration for Youth Connect does not end with Expo 2020. Al Ali’s team is planning to ensure sustained and lasting impacts well beyond 2021.
“After Expo closes in April 2021, our site and our work will live on. We want to create a lasting platform to access opportunities, learn and explore, and continue to be inspired and to be contributors,” said Al Ali.
As one student participating in a Youth Lab put it: ‘I can’t wait to see what else the Expo 2020 Dubai has to unfold for us and am fervently waiting for the next step to take part of this Dream Team, the Expo team’.
Al Ali has a welcoming response: “We feel the same way. We want to hear from you!”
By Angel Chan