Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
The Arab countries are characterized by large youth populations with almost 60% of the population under 25 years of age. This is the highest level of the ‘youth bulge’ that the region has ever witnessed. This social segment, if not developed and empowered, often engages in risky behavior, suffers from a low sense of belonging in their own society, low communication and problem-solving skills, and a disinterest in public affairs.
Most Arab youth graduate from high school with a lack of confidence and fragile characters, suffering from a loss of perspective and bleak outlook on life – especially regarding their careers, their ability to affect change, and engage in public life. This lack of hope in a promising future, apathy towards civic engagement and youth activism, ultimately affects their productivity and their ability to function as fully engaged citizens within their societies. The social institutions and behavioral norms in place in Arab states also hinder youth access to information, opportunities for development as well as spaces for expression. As a result, youth engagement is severely restricted, and keeps them from realizing their full potential and actively participating in economic, political and social affairs in society.
Nepotism and favoritism are engrained values in Arab societies and especially throughout Jordan, which is a constitutional monarchy—a kingdom. Thus certain communities and families have the exclusive privileges to access opportunities and information such as career advancement or educational opportunities. Often this small segment of society becomes the cultured or elite and only decision makers. This problem manifests in the absence of clear, transparent and credible systems for managing opportunities, information and privileges, and offering them on an open access basis to all youth. This produces a society with skewed distribution of opportunities, career prospects, information, and social expression outlets, all of which is upheld by the normalization of corruption and elitist practices in Jordan and the Levant region as a whole.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Sami is a pioneer in the Arab world, working to break the vicious cycle of elitism and nepotism in young people’s accessibility to education, skills development, and civic engagement opportunities. Within a context where youth are passive or apathetic towards the social and political scenes and, while opportunities for personal, educational, economic and civic engagement are only circulated within closed circles of the privileged, Sami is creating a shift in the norms by introducing a new way for youth to counter this disempowering trend and become an active, educated, and motivated generation.
Moreover, by opening circles and transforming the idea that opportunities are only for the royal elite of a country or society, Sami is fostering a culture of sharing opportunities in a very egalitarian way. His work demonstrates that sharing opportunities with others, whether they be access to jobs, education, trainings, scholarships, etc. doesn’t have to increase competition but rather can open more doors for oneself. This new culture of sharing is building an active, aware, and engaged citizenship, permeating all levels of society.
Through Sami’s work youth are engaged in a series of initiatives including roleplaying for social change, finding and sharing opportunities, capacity building trainings, and creative public speaking forums. These initiatives encourage all Jordanian youth to be active problem-solvers in their communities and engaged citizens.
Sami is committed to engaging youth in an open, transparent, credible and fair manner irrespective of their backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, political ideologies or socio-economic status. His work has reached a large spread throughout Jordan and Sami will continue to scale throughout the Levant region and the rest of the Arab world.