The first symposium on Arab Youth and Employability was organized as a result of GE Foundation's desire to better understand the status of youth in the MENA region. In collaboration with the Qatar Foundation, FHI 360 invited speakers from the private and public sectors, academia, and regional NGOs to discuss the importance of youth employment in growing economies in the Gulf region and address some of the common problems that youth face, through an inclusive, analytical, and solutions-driven dialogue.



Nabil Al Buenain
Executive Director, New Doha Port Project, Qatar


Arab Youth Status: Overview and Analysis

May A. Rihani (Moderator)
Senior Vice President, Senior Advisor Gender & Cross Cutting Outreach, FHI 360

Mohammed Saad Al-Marrikhi
Director, National Manpower Development, Ministry of Labor, Qatar
"Qatarization & Needs of the Job Market"

Dr. Tarik Yousef
CEO, Silatech, Qatar
"Present Status of Arab Youth: Economic & Leadership Challenges & Opportunities"


Policies and Solutions: The Way Forward

Robert L. Corcoran (Moderator)
President & Chairman, GE Foundation

Zamila Bunglawala
Visiting Fellow, Brookings Institute, Qatar
"Policies A_ecting Arab Youth: The Centrality of Gender, Equity, & Inclusivity"

Rami Khouri
Director, Issam Fares Institute, AUB/Beirut, Lebanon
"The Future of Arab Youth: Innovations & Solutions"


May A. Rihani
Senior Vice President, Senior Advisor Gender & Cross Cutting Outreach, FHI 360

Abdulla Almansoori
Director of Qatar Career Fair, Q

What We Learned

As there are clear sub-regional differences in the rate of youth unemployment and participation in the labor force in the MENA region, the speakers agreed that it is important to understand the context in each country in the sub-region. Some youth may be lacking work ethics, "soft skills" such as communication and creative abilities, or may be facing gender discrimination or social barriers to employment.

Based on the discussions from the symposium in Qatar, we identified the following challenges that youth face in Gulf countries in general, and Qatar in particular:

  • Disconnect between the education system and the labor market
  • Unrealistic expectations by youth about employment opportunities
  • Lack of mentoring programs in- and outside of the education system
  • Lack of internships and skills training programs
  • Lack of access to finance for young entrepreneurs
  • Social and cultural barriers to female employment
  • Youth/family mindset towards certain job industries that are considered menial/low
  • Lack of job readiness programs
  • Youth voices are not heard
  • Lack of viable alternatives to the public sector employment

Media Gallery


Dr. Tarik M. Yousef

Dr. Tarik M. Yousef has been the Chief Executive Officer of Silatech, Doha, Qatar since July 2011 after serving 5 years as the founding Dean of Dubai School of Government. Prior to that, he held the positions of Associate Professor of Economics in the School of Foreign Service, and Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Professor of Arab Studies at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. An expert on the economies of the Arab world, he received his PhD in economics from Harvard University with specialization in development economics and economic history. His current research interests include the study of youth inclusion, the political economy of policy reform, the dynamics of transitions to democracy, and development policies in oil-exporting countries of the Arab world. His policy experience includes working in the Middle East Department of the IMF, the MENA Region of the World Bank, and the Millennium Project at the UN.

Rami Khouri

Rami Khouri is first Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Mr. Khouri serves as a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Kennedy School of Harvard University and the Dubai School of Government. He is editor at large of the Beirut-based Daily Star newspaper and author of the "Generation on the Move/UNICEF. He was awarded the Pax Christi International Peace Prize in 2006. Mr. Khouri teaches and lectures at the American University of Beirut, University of Chicago and Northeastern University. He is Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Harvard University, Syracuse University, Mount Holyoke College, The Fletcher School at Tufts University, Northeastern University and Stanford University, and is a member of the Brookings Institute Task Force on US Relations with the Islamic World. He holds a B.A. and a M.Sc. degree in political science and mass communications from Syracuse University, NY, USA.

Robert Corcoran

Robert CorcoranRobert Corcoran is the Former Vice President, Corporate Citizenship and Former President & Chairman of the GE Foundation. Mr. Corcoran was responsible for GE's global citizenship and philanthropic activities, health, public education, community building, disaster relief, and volunteerism initiatives. Previously, he served as Vice President of Human Resources for GE Healthcare and his 35-year GE career has included key human resource leadership roles in GE's Healthcare, Aviation, Lighting and Aerospace businesses.  He was elected a Corporate Officer by the GE Board of Directors in 2000.

Zamila Bunglawala

Zamila BunglawalaZamila Bunglawala is a Fellow at the Young Foundation and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester in England. She is the principal coordinator and co-designer of the Knowledge Exchange Trials program which focuses on bridging the knowledge exchange divide between academics and policy professionals. She is the Program Designer of the 'Inspiring Aspirations' and 'Empowering Entrepreneurs' programs that focus on career and entrepreneurship development for young people in the GCC and MENA regions. Ms. Bunglawala is a recent former Visiting Fellow of the Brookings Institute, Doha Center where she led research and analysis of the employment and entrepreneurship aspirations of youth in the GCC and MENA regions and the Knowledge Economy capability of Qatar.  Her experience covers a broad range of public policy issues. Ms. Bunglawala has worked previously for the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office in the UK, the United Nations, and the World Bank.

Nabil al Buenain

Nabil al BuenainNabil al Buenain is the Executive Director of New Doha Port Project, Doha, Qatar. In 1995, Mr. al Buenain joined Qatar Petroleum (QP) and pursued different responsibilities such as Senior Plant Engineer, Head of Technical Services for Ras Laffan Common Cooling Seawater Project, Chairman of Technical and Commercial Evaluation team for all Nakhilat developed projects and Project Manager for Ras Laffan Port Expansion Project. Mr. al Buenain has over 17 years of varied experience in Project Management, Engineering, Technical and Commercial services, Infrastructure such as "Marine, Electrical, Civil, Buildings, Security, and Telecommunications. Since June 2011, Mr. al Buenain has joined the New Port Project (NPP) as Executive Director. Nabeel al Buenain has a Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Lamar University, Faculty of Engineering, Texas, USA.

Mohammad Saad al Mreikhi

Mohammad Saad al MreikhiMohammad Saad al Mreikhi is the Director of the National Manpower Development Department at the Ministry of Labor in Doha, Qatar. He held the position of Assistant Director of the National Manpower Development Department at the Ministry of Labor from 2000 to 2007. Mr. al Mreikhi's professional career included the positions of Secretary of the Central Tenders Committee; Head of the Department of International Relations, Department of Labor / Ministry of Civil Service Affairs and Housing. Mr. al Mreikhi is a member of the Standing Committee of Population; member of Edoo Altesaaria Supreme Committee for Qatar Career Fair and member of the Commission to Study Title I Budget/Financial Budget. Mr. al Mreikhi participated in several conferences including International Labor Conference; Arab Labor Conference; Gulf Conference on the Workforce; and Arab and Scientific International conferences/seminars.

May Rihani

May RihaniMay Rihani is former Senior VP of FHI 360 and former Senior Advisor for Gender and Cross Cutting Outreach. She was responsible for leading FHI 360's gender-specific programs, focused on girls' education, as well as leading the institutional effort to effectively mainstream gender into all of FHI 360's programs in education, health, economic development, civil society, and the environment. She was a leading voice on the relationship between girls' education, health, technology, and economic productivity. Ms. Rihani designed, planned, and managed cross-cutting gender programs in Afghanistan, Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Fiji, Ghana, Guinea, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, and Yemen. Ms. Rihani was elected Co-chair of the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative UNGEI 2008-2010 and worked at UNESCO. She is the author of Keeping the Promise: The Five Benefits of Girls' Secondary Education.