Over 50% of the Saudi population is 25 years and under. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia places high priority on youth development and in raising young people’s leadership capacities. For this purpose, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) with support from UNDP initiated a Youth Exchange initiative to promote dialogue among nations. For example, the Saudi Indian Youth Exchange on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) was undertaken in 2012. The Saudi Exchange programmes expanded and allowed Saudi youth to visit different countries around the world such as China, Spain, South Korea and India.
Mohammed Al Reefi, an 18-year old Saudi student participating in the ICT Saudi India Forum shares his story: “I’m the oldest of five children I have always wanted to be a doctor and travel the world and one of my future goals is to be with Doctors without Borders. Before the Saudi International Youth Dialogue Forums, I had a limited network of friends,” “I have always been fascinated with different cultures and how people are diverse”.
He added “India is so advanced in the field of Information Communication Technology, most global IT companies have major offices in India, ICT use is growing exponentially”. “This trip made me discover myself. It gave me the self-confidence and self-appreciation that made me who I am today. The experience gave me the opportunity to grow as a person.”