Community Involvement Key to the Success of Outreach Programs, Says Sultan Al Dhaheri
Masdar Institute’s Young Future Energy Leaders Program Plays Significant Role in Developing Human Capital
>Abu Dhabi-UAE: 20 May, 2012 – Elders play an instrumental role in shaping the future of any community that aims to be progressive. The greater the involvement of the successful community leaders in the affairs of the young, the greater the benefits will be for the emerging leaders of tomorrow.
Some effective community outreach initiatives offer the elders the right platform for nurturing, mentoring and closely engaging the youth. The Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) program is one such outreach initiative managed by Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies.
Because of its significant role in building the UAE’s human capital, community elders spontaneously turn to the YFEL program. With a mandate to inspire, engage and empower bright young people to be tomorrow’s leaders in the field of alternative energy and sustainability, the YFEL program has become an irresistible avenue for these elders to make their contributions, either financially or through other means.
The largest individual financial contribution of one million US dollars recently came from Sultan bin Rashed Al Dhaheri, a leading businessman in the UAE and a community elder. Al Dhaheri’s diverse participation in building the country’s many leading institutions and his contribution as a former member of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry make him a key member in the UAE community. He is also Chairman of the board of Sultan Bin Rashed Group of Companies, a nationally-owned trading group based in Abu Dhabi with branches in Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain. The group of companies has an exhaustive list of illustrious projects and achievements. Contribution from such a man reflects the YFEL program’s strong appeal and profound impact on the community.
Al Dhaheri said: “As the citizen of the UAE and a proud Emirati, my contribution to the YFEL program means a lot to me. This country has helped me to contribute to its economic growth over the decades. My individual contribution to YFEL represents only a small token of my gratitude to the community which has guided me, taught me and made me the successful person I am today. My contribution to the YFEL program also stems from the fact that YFEL places equal emphasis on education as well as career progression opportunities. The YFEL members include both promising university students as well as young professionals just beginning their career with the enthusiasm to be innovative.
“Without the wider and stronger involvement from the community in the outreach programs, the youth will not gain an opportunity to learn from those who have become successful personally and professionally. I believe greater community involvement will be good for the youth to chart their career path, thereby laying a strong foundation for social progress.”
During the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Al Dhaheri interacted with the top officials of Masdar Institute and acquainted himself with the institution’s academic and outreach activities in advanced energy and sustainable technologies. He also met with the YFEL officials, who updated him of the various special workshops, courses, and overseas programs that are organized for the YFEL members throughout the year.
Al Dhaheri added: “I have seen the outcomes of the YFEL program that continuously nurtures and molds the leaders of tomorrow. I knew the 2011 program that expanded into a year-long schedule of educational courses, activities, and events. I am convinced that the overseas visits, exclusive courses in technology, policy and leadership, have adequately helped the YFEL members. I have also seen the projects displayed by YFEL members at World Future Energy Forum during 2011 and earlier this year. In terms of innovation, they were quite impressive.”
In his opinion, the UAE has always remained an example for sustainable living even before the term ‘sustainability’ became widely known across the world. He commented: “Our elders in the pre-oil era had to live by only what was available in this desert region, while keeping the future generation in mind. In today’s world, the term ‘sustainability’ takes added significance because of the way the world’s natural resources are getting depleted, without even a passing thought about preserving the environment and tackling the additional burden of carbon emissions because of our various modern-day activities.”
Al Dhaheri strongly emphasizes the need to teach the importance of sustainability to today’s youth through programs such as the YFEL, and added that without such initiatives the natural resources of the world could be lost to the future generations forever.
In YFEL 2011, a total of 150 students and young professionals participated – nominated by their Deans and CEOs respectively. They included 60 UAE National students from key universities as well as 20 young professionals from various companies.
The YFEL program has consistently received support from the wider UAE community. The first-ever individual financial contribution of AED1 million came from Emirati philanthropist Mohammed Bin Salem Bin Kardous Al-Ameri, who pointed out at that time that YFEL is an organization which shares his values especially because of its ‘commitment to the next generation’.
But contributions by individuals alone cannot represent a wider commitment by the community to outreach programs such as YFEL. Leading government and non-government organizations have also offered their support to the YFEL program.
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), one of the key sponsors last year, has once again pledged to continue its support for the YFEL program this year.
Al Dhaheri added that the UAE’s wise leadership has ensured Abu Dhabi remains at the forefront in so many industries, apart from the hydrocarbon sector. He also reiterated his strong belief that the leadership’s long-term vision will ensure Abu Dhabi registers significant growth across many fronts in the coming years.
Through various activities, the YFEL programs brings together students and promising young professionals from the UAE and around the world in a series of networking, skill development and idea sharing forums focused on this dynamic and vitally important field. It also helps members to enhance knowledge and leadership skills to achieve professional goals; organizes short courses, workshops and seminars; offers opportunities to share innovative ideas in advanced energy and sustainability with peers; provides networking opportunities and visibility through high-level events and meetings, as well as recognizes members’ contributions and accomplishments.
The YFEL program also helps to bring young professionals closer to government representatives, business leaders and other organizations active in the area of alternative energy and sustainability.