Backed by its mandate and vision to empower youth, ensure gender equality and strengthen young people engagement in the development and decision making process, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, Sub-Regional Office for the GCC countries, sponsored a flagship event in co-operation with Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and Youth for Change (YFC) Program of the Bibliotheca Alexandria. The event was held on 28th of November 2016, at the Grand Hall of the Cultural Center at SQU. The attendants were a total of approximately 400 people; young female and male students from several universities in Oman, SQU employees, UNFPA GCC staff members, teaching board members from universities located in several governorates, school teachers and pupils and interested public.
The one-day congress was launched by a speech given by Dr. Rahma Al Mahrooqia - SQU Deputy Vice Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies & Research, who stressed on the importance of youth engagement by opening a dialogue with them, while establishing for the learning and knowledge values in the education process. This was followed by a panel discussion in which Mr. Salah Al-Saleh - UNFPA GCC Programme Analyst and current Officer In-Charge (OIC), discussed as a panelist the agency’s mandate and vision. He spoke about Social Entrepreneurship and pinpointed UNFPA’s efforts to build platforms and support youth networks such as the Y-PEER, Youth Education Peer Network, from which young people can benefit from through national, regional and international experience exchange and trainings. Aim is to strengthen the linkage between youth empowerment and social entrepreneurship, create synergies and adopt teamwork spirit to achieve the sought goals; while focusing on demand-driven projects. The panel also hosted another speaker from the private sector; Dr. Feras Al Abdwani - CEO of Hossam Tech Company, who spoke about his entrepreneurship journey and challenges faced in the past 10 years since he established the communication company. The panel discussion was facilitated by Dr. Ali Al Shedhani – Director of Information and Communication Technology Research - The Research Council of the Sultanate of Oman.
In order to showcase the capabilities of the students from the different Sultanate universities, the event hosted an exhibition where 12 ICT projects were showcased. To create those projects, the youth used their knowledge and imagination to come up with innovative and creative small need-based ventures. Some of those projects were about creating IT systems for restaurant supply chain management, library management, scouts tracking and communication tool and a unified medical record platform. Other projects were about environmental recycling, and controlling water consumption through an ICT mobile application. Furthermore, the four YFC regional winner teams from Oman exhibited their projects.
Mr. Al-Saleh gave the closing speech of the event in which he thanked the SQU, its staff and the young students who organized the event. “We would like to thank the dedicated university staff members and the ambitious youth who organized such great event,” said Al-Saleh. “I wish that this programme to be the first of a long term co-operation with Sultan Qaboos University and the other academic entities in the country,” he added.
In conclusion, Prizes were awarded to the 3 student winners of the Code Race. Other trophies, supplied by UNFPA, were also given to the best 3 ICT innovative projects, which reaped most of the votes casted by the attendants in the evening, “It is amazing time for all of us. We are glad that we were able to display our Mobile App and its benefits,” said Thuraya Al Ebri, a student who co-designed the Master Library project.
In recognition of UNFPA GCC office’s efforts and sponsorship, the SQU awarded a trophy to the office which was received by Al-Saleh.