The innovative power and ambition of young people in Jordan and Iraq

The Ambassador-at-large for Youth, Education and Work, Tijmen Rooseboom, visited Amman, Jordan from May 28th until May 31st and Baghdad, Iraq from May 31st until June 2nd to have a dialogue with youth activists, entrepreneurs, civil society, private sector and governments, about young people’s challenges and opportunities.

Tijmen Rooseboom

Most people in the Middle East are young, which presents immense opportunities, but also challenges. These young people often face structural barriers to become involved in their society (both politically and economically): a lack of jobs, not receiving the skills to be able to fulfill their potential and limited space for them to participate in decision-making. This is why Dutch embassies in the MENA region are putting youth at the heart of their work.

Ambassador Rooseboom: “In both Jordan and Iraq I could see the innovative power and ambition of young people. It is up to us, policy makers from governments, as well as international organisations and private sector to adapt to the realities of youth and make sure that young people have the skills, the space and the opportunities to flourish.”

Meaningful Youth Participation

In Amman, Tijmen met with the Embassy’s newly launched Youth Advisory Committee, which is made up of 6 youth from different sectors and geographical areas. The Embassy will regularly collaborate and consult with them on Dutch programming in Jordan to ensure that youth have a say in the design, implementation and evaluation of strategies, policies, and programmes that impact them and their communities. Tijmen also met with the Advisory Committee of Entrepreneurs in Amman – another committee made up of 12 young entrepreneurs guiding Orange Corners, which is set to launch in Jordan in 2022.

In Iraq, Tijmen spoke to young change makers, who strive for a society in which there is equal opportunity for all. “I am struck and deeply inspired by the strength and ideas of young people in Iraq”, Tijmen indicated. Their participation is of huge importance to Iraq. “To be frank, societies can only flourish when young people are involved and their challenges and opportunities are at the heart of decision making”, he added.

Tijmen Rooseboom in Iraq

Education and work

During Tijmen’s visit to Jordan and Iraq , he also observed the implementation of Dutch funded projects in person and had a dialogue with youth involved in these projects and listened to their experiences.

In Jordan, he visited the UNICEF operated Makani Centre. Refugees from the region and host community youth, receive skills training there, in the framework of the Prospects partnership. There was also a visit to the Anabtawi Sweets Factory, where the Netherlands-funded Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) is being implemented to capacitate youth -specifically young women- in both soft- and technical skills. Tijmen also visited the Al Hussein Technical University, where the Netherlands supports the ‘Skilling for Increased Economic Participation of Youth’ project that aims to empower Jordanian youth by upskilling them in digital- and soft skills.

Roya News English published a video about Tijmen’s visit to the Al Hussein Technical University. Watch the video on Facebook.  

In Iraq, Tijmen met with the NL funded KAPITA Orange Corners, who seek to offer economic prospects by supporting youth throughout the entrepreneurship chain: from skills-training through an incubator to an angel investment fund. Student ambassadors stimulate an entrepreneurial spirit on university campuses. KAPITA simultaneously works on concept laws to improve the entrepreneurial climate.

Youth Diplomacy

In Jordan, Tijmen held separate bilateral meetings with Their Excellencies Minister of Youth Mohammad Al Nabulsi and Minister of Labour Nayef Stetieh. He discussed topics that were brought to his attention during youth consultations in Jordan and reaffirmed the Netherlands’ commitment to invest in skills and jobs for young people and strengthening the voices of youth.

In Iraq, Tijmen met with the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Social and Civic Peace, Dr. Husham Dawood. Here he also brought up the issues that had been mentioned by the youth and the importance of involving young Iraqi in decision-making.

To keep pace with this youthful world, the Netherlands is increasingly putting youth at the heart of its development policies. The Netherlands continuously invests in skills and jobs for young people and works on improving prospects for young people through a distinctive approach that bridges the gap between the skills young people learn and what the labour market demands. In doing so, the Netherlands makes sure to strengthen young people’s voices through meaningful participation in the policy cycle and dialogue with international partners.