Interview: Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa

What is the council doing to reduce unemployment and underemployment among the young?

SHEIKH NASSER BIN HAMAD AL KHALIFA: We need to further facilitate the refinement of our young people through educational initiatives, as well as properly channel their potential into areas where employment is needed.

We are also looking to cultivate the talents of our youth. For instance, we have created an award that honours gifted young people and we are encouraging individuals to test themselves and their abilities to discover what they can achieve.

We work closely with Tamkeen, Injaz and all of the youth-affiliated organisations to better address the needs of youngsters. We have also started a new project called “Proud to be Bahraini”, which will include an exhibition allowing young people to showcase their talents. The programme will nurture youth empowerment and encourage young Bahrainis to become more involved in society. We are also looking forward to expanding this idea into a GCC-wide project called “Proud to be Khaleeji”.

How can the ever-growing youth population be better incorporated into Economic Vision 2030?

SHEIKH NASSER: All of our projects are linked to Vision 2030. As a member of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), I always encourage the Supreme Council to focus on how to integrate our initiatives for young people into Vision 2030. Every project we pursue has some link, as young people form the cornerstone of any ongoing development.

The Supreme Council has laid down short- and long-term plans to support youth and sports activities by increasing the number of programmes that are available to young people. The aim is to equip them with the sort of skills that will help them succeed in the future and meet the demands of the local market in line with Vision 2030.

The Supreme Council is also encouraging all those who represent young people in youth organisations around the country to become more involved in the lives of the people they represent, whether it is by organising meet and greets with government officials or by arranging football tournaments where they can interact with youngsters.

What kind of impact do international sporting events affect have on Bahrain’s economy?

SHEIKH NASSER: One of our objectives at the Supreme Council is to turn sports into a business. We are working with the EDB to translate the various international sporting events being held in the country into tourism revenues. The economic impact of hosting such large-scale events is beneficial for the country and creates additional job opportunities for young people. Bahrain had the pleasure of hosting the first ever 2011 GCC Games, which turned out to be a great success. We are also very pleased to be hosting the 2012 Formula One World Championship and the 2013 Gulf Cup of Nations.

How can the youth movement in the Middle East be channelled into productive activities that could help fuel the region’s economies?

SHEIKH NASSER: As chairman of the SCYS, I oversee the development of Bahraini youth in all aspects, whether it is through economic participation or by facilitating their further involvement with sports. We have directed the General Organisation of Youth and Sports to spearhead events focusing on the physical, cultural and intellectual development of young people. During the Arab Spring in 2011 I held a youth dialogue, which was attended by youth representatives from all of the political parties. We discussed how best to address the needs of the youth segment and created a report for the King based on our deliberations. It is my responsibility to implement the solutions that we came up with. We have also received approval to create a youth fund to help with implementing these recommendations.