The following is a short piece about MoHow’s work consulting on the United Arab Emirates youth empowerment strategy. It discusses the many facets of large-scale youth projects and some of the challenges and benefits of working at scale.
The project began in 2014 when MoHow was asked by the UAE to consult on their national youth engagement plan, intending to create a plan which could be implemented across all the Emirates, the first of its kind. Of course, this meant the project carried immense complexity, scope, and size, with many hundreds of primary stakeholders. Whilst this complexity and size brought many logistical challenges it also brought the opportunity to impact many lives with high velocity.
To enable this, Mo built a team of 100 youth engagement members, tasked with uplifting the national voice of young people across the Emirates. This appreciative approach simply sought to find and amplify youth best practices, already used by youth in the UAE. These engagement members did this by identifying what was “currently working” to engage youth in the Emirates and then did more of that, but across the entire Emirates.
Whilst this approach allowed for strong youth voices and desires to be heard in the plan, it also highlighted the challenges of large scale, national change. Because of the project's scope, the youth plan was being implemented across the entire Emirates, meaning it was impossible to create specific engagement and empowerment plans for each diverse cultural group in the Emirates. Highlighting the issue, that the globalization of engagement rarely leads to meaningful or lasting youth empowerment.
Whilst MoHow believes that a youth plan is better than no plan at all, it is important to note that engagement and empowerment is an incredibly personalized and diverse thing. Any youth plan must pay respect and homage to this. Otherwise, it will fail to keep pace with the rapid changes and diversity which working with the youth brings.
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