Building Solid Foundations
Gulf Business|March 2018

As the UAE continues to navigate a new era of diversification and Emiratisation, Maytha Al Habsi, CEO of Emirates Foundation, discusses how the organisation is helping young people become leaders of the future.

Neil King

THE WORD ‘CHANGE’ has become synonymous with the UAE since the union was formed more than 46 years ago.

The country’s rapid growth and development has seen the seven emirates change beyond all recognition since the 1970s, and that change is still evident around us today as we enter into a new era for its governments, residents and businesses.

Among the most important changes at the present time are those based upon diversification and Emiratisation. Finding new ways to drive economic growth, and encouraging more Emiratis into the private sector are two key strategies for the long-term success of the UAE, requiring new ways of thinking and placing a huge reliance on the country’s youth population.

One group looking to prepare young people for this future is Emirates Foundation – an independent philanthropic organisation set up by the Government of Abu Dhabi to facilitate public-private funded initiatives to boost youth development and welfare across the UAE.

Part of its mission is to help young people bring positive change and a sustainable future to the country through a variety of means including volunteering, education and developing enterprise.

In December last year, the foundation appointed a new CEO, Maytha Al Habsi, who follows in the successful footsteps of previous incumbent Clare Woodcraft.

Having been with the organisation since its launch in 2005, Al Habsi has been party to the many changes throughout the UAE, and understands the challenges facing young people.

“Today more than ever, as we enter this new era of diversification and Emiratisation, young people need a lot of support to make sure they have, for example, analytical competencies,” she says.

“They need to be able to think systematically and long-term, challenge the norms, find good solutions and be good leaders who can lead in a crisis and manage the difficult times along with the good ones.

“These are skills that young people need at a personal as well as professional level, yet they are not necessarily things that are taught directly in the formal education.

"Education is changing globally and in the region, but it is not a quick process and the results don’t show overnight. However, a lot more can be done to make sure we equip young people with the skills they need to navigate the complexities of the 21st century.

“We consider ourselves lucky having leadership that strives to place UAE education at the global forefront. Our chairman, HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, told the World Government Summit last month that the UAE will revamp the education system to produce bright young graduates that are ready for the age of artificial intelligence and the next industrial revolution.

“There is still a huge amount of work that needs to be done to help young people have the self-confidence, self-mastery, support networks, peers and mentors that they can use to help them thrive professionally and personally and that is exactly the kind of skill sets that we are trying to offer to young people through our programmes.”

With 13 years of helping young people in this way, Al Habsi says that the foundation has engaged directly with more than 120,000 young people in the UAE – always keeping youth development at its core in a bid to address social and economic challenges faced by young people.

“We apply a ‘market-based’ approach to youth development,” she explains.

“Our six key programmes operate as social enterprises, deploying business principles for the creation of social value. Rather than surmising the needs of youth, we listen to them. We undertake market research and respond to the targeted needs and challenges of youth between the ages of 15 and 35. Based on this we develop solutions to real problems with a focused operational portfolio.”

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM GULF BUSINESSView All

Special Report: Money matters

Exploring the future of wealth management in the GCC

10+ mins read
Gulf Business
June 2021

The music world's next frontier

Here’s why you should take note of the burgeoning independent Arab music scene

3 mins read
Gulf Business
June 2021

Shattering the status quo

Georges Kern, CEO of Breitling, is swimming against the tide and gaining market share for the Swiss luxury watchmaker. Here’s what he’s doing right

6 mins read
Gulf Business
June 2021

RACING FOR HYDROGEN

How gas giants are vying to stay relevant as the industry moves towards sustainable goals

4 mins read
Gulf Business
June 2021

London calling

A Dubai homegrown concept, The Maine, led by restaurateur Joey Ghazal is going international and taking its New England brasserie concept to London’s tony Mayfair district

6 mins read
Gulf Business
June 2021

Ensuring efficient SYSTEMS

Advances in UPS design can address data centre cooling challenges, says Jake Guo, Data Centre Solutions manager at Huawei ME

2 mins read
Gulf Business
June 2021

LADDER TO THE SKIES

It’s not just the view at the top that Bal Krishen, the CEO and chairman of UAE-based Century Financial enjoys, but also the journey of reaching there. In this exclusive interview, the enterprising executive reveals his stellar professional rise, where the investment market is headed, and what the future holds

9 mins read
Gulf Business
June 2021

AN ALPINE SOJOURN

Switzerland has been the bellwether and thermometer for the health of Central European tourism. It’s beginning to climb out of one of its most challenging years ever, with Switzerland Tourism CEO Martin Nydegger bullish about a strong recovery

5 mins read
Gulf Business
June 2021

CHECKING — IN —

The region’s biggest travel and tourism event, Arabian Travel Market, held a successful in-person and virtual edition last month in Dubai. And the big question predictably was – has the industry started to recover? Are travellers stepping back on airplanes and ready to explore new destinations as the industry adapts to the Covid crisis? Aarti Nagraj has more details

10 mins read
Gulf Business
June 2021

A charging bull

Stephan Winkelmann, president and CEO of Lamborghini, has laid out an ambitious roadmap for all the cars within its fleet to be hybrid models by 2024, followed by an all-new full-electric Lambo before the end of the decade. And before you ask, the V12 combustion engine will continue to breathe

5 mins read
Gulf Business
June 2021