DOHA: US President Barack Obama’s half-sister, Dr Auma Obama, will be the main guest at Reach Out To Asia’s (Rota) Empower 2014 Youth Conference which opens on Thursday at Qatar Foundation Student Centre.
An acclaimed author and philanthropist, Dr Obama is the Founder and Director of Sauti Kuu Foundation, which seeks to give perspective to disadvantaged children and youth by helping them unlock their potential through ‘Life Skills’ training and educational opportunities.
Under the theme ‘Sports for Youth Empowerment’, the three-day forum will see participation of 450 youth aged 16-26 from Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UK, India, Tunisia, Lebanon and other countries.
Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace to the UN Secretary-General, will address participants through a video message on the opening day. Lemke is responsible for heading efforts of the UN system in promoting understanding and support for sport as an instrument for development and peace and encouraging dialogue, collaboration and partnership.
Another guest is Jaber Al Harami, Editor-in-Chief, Al Sharq, who will meet Rota Youth Advisory Board before the event to exchange thoughts on sports, education, leadership skills and media role in encouraging youth participation in community events.
“We look forward to meeting youth leaders, hearing their opinions and ideas for tackling community, social and environmental issues that matter to the young people of the world,” Mohamed Saleh, Rota National Programmes Director, told a press conference yesterday.
He said the main aim of the forum is to raise awareness and build knowledge and capacity to enable young people to take leadership roles in addressing local and international developmental issues especially in the area of sustainable development and sports.
“We’re thrilled to host the conference, an internationally recognised forum that shares Rota’s values in recognising today’s youth as agents of change and the leaders of tomorrow,” he added.
Rota has invited youth activists from nine organisations, including Right to play (Lebanon), Coaches across continents (the US), Liverpool Sport Club Foundation (the UK), Magic Bus (India), Aspire Academy, Qatar’s Ministry of Youth and Sport, Aspetar, Qatar Football Association and Qatar Olympic Committee.
To ensure it remains a youth-led meeting, the forum is organised in collaboration with a planning committee of 30 youth volunteers.
“The forum will focus on sports for youth empowerment. Through sport, our youth will discover talents they never knew they had. With participation of public figures such as Dr Obama, Lemke and Al Harami, we will benefit from their perceptions to gain a new understanding of sport and education as tools of change,” said Saleh.
The forum is sponsored by Msheireb Properties, a real estate company and subsidiary of Qatar Foundation.
“Msheireb is proud to be partnering with Rota for ‘Sports for empowerment’ is a very encouraging theme for the youth. We believe that through sports young people have the potential to contribute their skills, leadership and enthusiasm to a better tomorrow,” said Fahad Al Buainain, Msheireb Properties Communication and Public Relations Officer.