Wilson Center Experts
Abbas Sibai is from Beirut Lebanon, part of Leaders of Democracy Fellows Program at Maxwell School, Syracuse University NY. He is passionate about creating new initiatives related to active youth participation, environment and health issues. Lately he developed "Live Love Beirut" a crowd source platform for youth mobilization in Lebanon. He is also Program Manager and Communications consultant for the National Tobacco Control Program at the Ministry of Health in Lebanon. He has previously worked with IndyACT leading a campaign to enforce Tobacco Control law in Lebanon and another campaign to empower citizens of the Litani River Basin to sate from water pollution. He has worked with the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO) – CRAFT LEBANON to promote efficient waste management. In addition to his experience with environmental issues, Mr. Sibai has also worked with the Lebanese Physically Handicap Union and with the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections. Moreover, he founded three nonprofit organizations Aie Serve – Youth Empowerment, Young Greens Lebanon – Waste management and Green Policies. Mr. Sibai has served as an Ambassador for Peace for Universal Peace Federation since 2011. Previous to this he also served at Rotaract/ Rotary District 2450 as Honorary District 2450 Secretary, Vice District 2450 Representative and President of the Rotaract Club of Beirut.
The percentage and overall large numbers of youth in MENA between the ages of 15 and 24 is increasingly noted with interest and sometimes alarm. The total population increased from around 100 million in 1950 to around 380 million in 2000 — an addition of 280 million people in 50 years. During this period the population of the MENA region increased 3.7 times, more than any other major world region based on Population Reference Bureau.
There is a great need for platforms and tools to equip these young people in the MENA region to become builders of civil society institutions. Most societies are not yet willing to invest in social, economic, and political institutions to meet the needs of those young people. Young people in the MENA region are being engaged in the current revolution in direct or indirect ways, and the level of interaction and exchange is very high between these people and other age groups. The shifting needs of youth is also affected by the global economy which interacts with the smallest community in the region. We are observing a lot of emerging young leaders trying to deal with the new transitions in their counties, and the question that rises here is, are there enough tools and an attitude orientation to make and sustain a meaningful and democratic transition. Hereafter I see there is a need to develop and modulate several tools based on personal experiences in youth work. Compiling tools for young emerging leaders in MENA region willing to do a change and cope with the fast pace of social change they are living. Leaders need to develop self-awareness and prepare for their leadership journey.