Based on the vision of the current leadership in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its continuous efforts to bridge the gap between nations through cultural dialogue, Saudi Arabia aspires to enhance dialogue opportunities among civilizations based on solid knowledge and sincere desire to set strong bases of cooperation, searching for common opinions, promoting mechanisms aimed at benefiting from the scientific, intellectual and cultural wealth of nations and making the best use of it for the benefit of the entire world.
Based on the Eighth and Ninth National Development Plans, Saudi Arabia is keen on expanding youth development participation and raising their leadership capacities since they represent the majority of the society. The government aims at investing in youth and increases their experience to enhance their leadership skills for the future.
On its part, the UNDP develops many capacity developing programs in the youth sector on an international level through its field presence in 166 countries worldwide. The UNDP can present best practices of other countries for the Saudi youth to benefit from such experiences and explore international partnerships with many youth institutions in other countries.
In this respect, the Youth Exchange Program aims to accomplish specific goals, which will jointly support the national efforts aiming at expanding youth participation in development and raising their leadership capacities and skills.
Based on the above, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is joining efforts with UNDP to implement the Youth Exchange Program in order to accomplish several goals, which includes implementing the vision of King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz to promote cultural, scientific and knowledge dialogue among nations. Also, to increase Saudi youth participation in youth forums and develop their leadership, dialogue and communication skills, while understanding capacities of their counterparts from other countries. The project also aims to encourage youth participation in the development process and benefit from the experience of other countries to improve youth leadership skills as well as increasing the level and quality of youth participation in the local community.
So far, ten forums where implemented to various countries with leading experiences in different fields such as renewable energy, urban planning and slums management, ICT for development, smart cities, medical research, architectural identity and biodiversity. These forums were conducted with the participation of more than 200 Saudi youth, where they were exposed to various on ground experiences on relevant fields under consideration, while engaging with their counterparts in an active dialogue to come up with youth-led initiatives serving the purpose of each forum bilaterally and globally.
Nouf Saati, a 22 year-old participant from the Saudi-Chinese Youth Dialogue Forum, which covered the theme of “Medical Research and Clinical Application”, had a unique experience during the forum as an ambitious medical student pursuing the field of genetic research. “I was amazed at how stereotyping can hinder the process of dialogue among nations. We were privileged to engage in a meaningful dialogue with our Chinese peers, where these misconceptions were cleared, leaving the room for a constructive, beneficial communication between us,” Nouf explained.
She elaborates further: “By communicating with the Chinese youth and visiting various governmental and research entities, a whole new perspective with regard to medical research was revealed to us. China is a great nation, its hard-working people were able to achieve outstanding results in various medical fields. Through our continuous dialogue we came upon initiatives that could lead to further advancement in medical research in our countries to benefit our people and humanity in general.”
Upon her return to Saudi Arabia, Nouf has completed various courses in the field of genetic research and currently planning to enrich her knowledge by applying to study in China.