How would you feel if you were young, well educated, and eager to start growing a career – but couldn’t find meaningful employment?

This is the harsh reality for millions of young people in the Middle East. Owing to a combination of economic, societal and cultural factors, jobs in the private sector are tough to come by. As a result, young men and women who have an entrepreneurial spirit face an uphill battle. The biggest obstacle: few jobs.

The Arab Challenge

Creating meaningful business opportunities for young men and women is an economic imperative for the entire Gulf region. A few key facts to consider:

  • More than half of the GCC population is under the age of 25
  • These young people face some of the highest unemployment rates in the world, around 10.5% on average
  • By 2020, the Gulf’s population is expected to increase by one-third, to 53 million – and the vast majority will be under 25 years of age
  • More than 90% of the adult population in the Gulf region works for the government

Sadly, many young people get frustrated, and abandon their dreams. Often, they wind up working for the government, which employs 90% of the adult population in the Gulf region. Many who serve in government do so with pride and distinction, certainly. But the salient point here is that young people in the Gulf region have a profound lack of choice when it comes to pursuing their creative dreams, regardless of whether they want to work for a company in the Gulf’s small but growing private sector, or build their own business from scratch.

This is truly Omar’s heartbeat – helping young people realize their dreams.

omarOne way he’s helping is through INJAZ Kuwait, a non-profit organization devoted to the cause of Arab youth. As the organization’s Chairman, Omar has been instrumental in attracting a range of business leaders to assist. These role models, along with trained INJAZ volunteers, serve as mentors – and sources of inspiration – as students learn the basics of business, and develop understanding and skills around finance, management, operations and more. After their schooling is completed, students may elect to participate in a six-month business startup program or an international exchange program.

INJAZ Kuwait is part of the INJAZ Al-Arab regional network, which is likewise committed to youth development. Founded in 2005 by Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, INJAZ Al-Arab has impacted the lives of more than 1.6 million studentssince its inception.

INJAZ-Kuwait has reached over 31,000 students since 2005, working through volunteers – more than 1,200 – and 70-plus participating schools and universities. And the program is still growing thanks to the commitment of Omar and his dedicated team of business leaders, educators and others devoted to the cause of Arab youth. The organization is part of Junior Achievement, a non-profit youth organization that was founded in America in 1919.

Though the organizations vary by geography, their shared goal is exactly the same: equipping students with the skills they need – intellectually, spiritually and otherwise — as they move forward with their lives and careers.

injaz3INJAZ-Kuwait targets students age 11-24, reflecting the organization’s belief that training should start early, and continue forthwith as students learn, mature and progress. Omar fully supports this approach, and philosophy, as he knows from personal experience that when young people learn the basics of finance and entrepreneurship early in life, they build confidence. And when kids have confidence, they build self-respect; and that, in turn, empowers kids to find inner light and resolve, allowing them to achieve truly great things in life — not just for themselves, but also for their families and communities, and, indeed, the entire Gulf region.

Country. Community. Family. These are the three pillars in Omar’s own life. And inherent in this is his own dream: to do all that he can to create opportunities for the young men and women of Kuwait, and in doing so ensure prosperity for all in the Gulf region.

For more information about INJAZ-Kuwait, or to get involved, please visit our web site here.