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Story | Research
20 November 2019

Providing opportunities for refugees and unlocking their talents discussed at WISE Summit 2019


Panel discussion led by Al Fakhoora program highlighted the economic impacts of conflicts

For over 25 years, the unemployment rate in the MENA east has been the highest in the world.

The conflicts in the Arab world have led to an increasing unemployment rate, especially with the continuous conflict in Syria, and the subsequent negative impacts on labor markets in neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, with the number of refugees amounting to 4.8 million.

Both the economic and social conflicts of this situation have now been placed in the spotlight in a discussion held by Education Above All’s Al Fakhoora program, during the WISE Summit 2019. The session, entitled Bridging the Gap from Higher Education to Meaningful Employment, gathered speakers from within and beyond Qatar, who highlighted to importance of economically empowering young people in the MENA region and around the world.

It explored how this can be done by providing job opportunities and initiatives that go beyond the traditional method of collaboration between the private and public sectors, and that are in line with their skills and specializations, in addition to involving young people in local training programs. The speakers also emphasized the importance of crossing geographical boundaries through providing remote job opportunities, while establishing innovative ways of connecting graduates with the labor market.

Maya Ghazal, a UNHCR High Profile Supporter, participated in the discussion, and shared her journey of how she was forced to move as a refugee from Syria to the UK because of the war in her home country. She explained how long and challenging her journey was, and that she had to leave education for some time as many universities rejected her application. And she sent a message to the participants in the session, encouraging them to hold on onto their dreams.

“Education changes our lives, and gives us the willingness to voice our ideas to the world,” she said. “I was able to overcome the stigma associated with me as a refugee, and after months of loneliness and isolation, I am now studying Aviation Engineering, and have achieved my dream as the first Syrian refugee in this field,” said Ghazal.

“Investing in the education of refugees is a collective award that benefits all communities. If we are going to make a positive change, we must involve government and non-government institutions to ensure that refugees can have education.

Ambassador Dho Young-Shim, Chairperson of the UN World Tourism Organization’s Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty Foundation said: “Education can make miracles happen through tourism and travel industries.

“WISE is a platform where we can highlight the importance of educating refugees and introducing new opportunities for them in the tourism and travel industries. Most large enterprises in this field want to support communities, but they do not have enough time, and most do not know where to start.

“This is where the public sector should step in to support the private sector, in order to achieve shared objectives, especially on the level of investing in small enterprises that make refugees feel as human beings.

“The value of investment in tourism and travel industries amounts to approximately USD7 trillion. Through this industry, we can enhance the partnership between the public and private sectors, in order to contribute to training refugees in this field.”

Misfer bin Hamad Al Shahwani, Deputy Director General for Projects at Qatar Fund For Development, emphasized that exploring talent and unlocking its potential will prove that the private sector can provide and enhance the opportunities in the labor market, adding: “Supporting education for refugees is not a charity – it is an opportunity for the private sector to explore talents and utilize them globally."

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And James Jones, Director of Global Community Programs and Strategy at ExxonMobil, spoke about the need to engaging the private sector in formulating policies for both education employment sectors. “Education is one of the main pillars at ExxonMobil, where we have scientists, researchers, and innovators, who drive our company to keep moving forward in its journey of success and achievement.

“We are constantly searching for new talents and are adapting to the way we deal with the challenges, as we have full-time job opportunities as well as working remotely. This is what distinguishes a dynamic company. "

Also among the speakers at the discussion, which was moderated by Farooq Burney, the Executive Director of Al Fakhoora, were Christos Stylianides, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management, and Sarah Al-Dorani, Executive Director of Marketing and Communication at Qatar Financial Center, as well as Al Fakhoora graduate Ahmed Al Rantisi, and Yvonne Helle, Special Representative of the Administrator, UNDP-PAPP.

Established in 2009 as a response to the conflict in Gaza that destroyed numerous schools and universities, Al Fakhoora was launched with the aim of becoming a comprehensive support system for education in Gaza. Al Fakhoora aims to enforce the right to education through supporting a new generation of young people to become educated leaders, professionals, and entrepreneurs who inspire their families to achieve prosperity.

The WISE Summit 2019 will be hosting over 150 sessions. For more information about the summit, please visit:

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