Y20: Still showing that you(th) can make a difference

By Shaima Hamidaddin

It’s estimated that around a third of the world is in some form of official lockdown, and many more are voluntarily self-isolating or social distancing as sensible precautions. Of course, incredible health workers and other vital workers all over the world are still active – saving lives and keeping the essentials of society running.

As responsible members of society, it’s important that we all follow precautions and restrictions, but it’s also important that we also try and keep our roles in society active too. As I outlined in the last blog, at Misk we’re trying to do just that. So, in a break from my usual blog, we’re going to be hearing directly from the two people at Misk running Y20 (since we’re all working remotely, it was even more of a pleasure than usual to talk to them): Othman Almoamar, chairman, and Sarah Alkhedheiri, Sherpa. They can update us on how they’re still committed to Y20 and unlocking its online potential.

Othman: “For all the challenges we’re facing, it’s imperative that we proceed with Y20. The values of Y20, and of young people around the world, are key to combatting coronavirus: a future-fit, tech-skills orientated mentality; resilience and agility towards change and disruption; and an interest in learning how to seize the initiative. Furthermore, our leaders are at the moment necessarily looking at the short-term – how to solve this crisis right now – but young people can focus on the long-term, and we absolutely need to be able to look ahead to future pandemics and other crises to be better prepared, save more lives, and – yes – more resilient.

Sarah: “We had the Y20 topics in place before this crisis broke, and they’re still relevant. But now there’s this shared global experience, like nothing in our lifetimes, and it’s bringing us together as global citizens to address this issue and others with new motivation.”

I asked how they’re proceeding with the working meetings, originally planned to happen face-to-face.

Othman: “Actually, the G20 already demonstrated some agility of its own by conducting a remote meeting. We’re letting them try out some of the technology to make sure it works OK! Most likely we’ll use a mix of existing platforms – Zoom, WebX – as well as some bespoke platforms we’ve got under development.”

Sarah: We’re really excited about these virtual meetings, but I think two things we’re concerned about are missing out on the opportunity to forge deeper connections that face-to-face contact brings, and also the chance to make unexpected links. The working meetings were originally scheduled to take place in parallel to other international gatherings – EcoSoc in New York, VivaTech in Paris, WEF ASEAN in Jakarta – and the chance for our delegates to make connections beyond the Y20 was something we were keen to push, just to get those additional perspectives. We are now going to use online platforms to gain thoughts and opinions from those who wouldn’t normally be able to take part in these kind of international meetings.

Othman: We’ll be opening a youth-led initiative competition. Young people all over the world – not just the G20, not just delegates – can submit their ideas and projects to help fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Y20 will choose the winner who will be able to attend the summit – assuming we can still hold it – and the idea will also be shared among the Y20 delegates to include within the communiqué and next year’s Y20.

We’re running out of space, but what do Othman and Sarah say to delegates and young people around the world?

Sarah: “Delegates have a responsibility. We’ve been posed a challenge and we’re overcoming it with agility, innovation, and commitment. Let’s approach drafting our Y20 communiqué to the G20 leadership with the same spirit.”

Othman: “Young people are optimistic about the future. We know this. Now this is a chance for young people to show that our leaders should feel optimistic about them. As we say: You(th) can.”

So, there we have it. The Y20 2020 is now very online – keep an eye on our various channels and join us in facing this global challenge. Until next time, keep yourself, your family, and your communities safe.


Y20 – The coolest G20 engagement group

By Shaima Hamidaddin

In my previous blog I discussed global citizenship – what it means to be a global citizen and what it means for us at Misk to encourage people to embrace that identity. In this blog, I’m going to look at one of our major projects for 2020, one that is a real opportunity for you to put into practice the ideals of global citizenship: The Y20.


First of all, let’s get the obvious out the way. What is the Y20? As the Y20 leader from Misk’s side, Othman Almoamar, put it when we launched here last Sunday, it’s “the coolest G20 engagement group,” but it’s also the “only officially recognised platform for young people to engage with the wider G20.” What that means is, if you’ve got something you want to say to the leaders of the G20 nations, engaging with us on the Y20 is the way to do it. It’s a real, impactful way to influence global policy making – to have your voice heard at the very top table of international decision making. And it’s all starting this month.


But, why should you engage? It all seems so distant, elite, and disconnected, right? Even more so for non-G20 country members! In reality, the G20 leaders and indeed world leaders in general aren’t that distant and we’re not that disconnected. What happens in a G20 country, effects other G20 countries, effects non-G20 countries, effects individuals wherever they are. The issues the G20 is wrestling with this year, and the issues we’re focusing on in the Y20 I noted above, affect countries and people all over the world. If we can develop solutions within the G20 framework, they can benefit any country, community, or person anywhere. With the Y20 we’re giving you a real way to get involved in that process.


So, if that’s given you cause, how do you get involved? We’re creating a thousands-strong community of young people across the world and – in keeping with the defining technology of our time – we’re starting online, but (Coronavirus permitting) planning some face-to-face meetings later in the year. Joining this community will be your way to discuss the points and ideas you want put before the G20 leaders at their summit November this year. And this isn’t just some one-and-done, send in an idea and forget about it/be forgotten deal. We’re going to have weekly webinars with Y20 members and monthly online meetups – both completely open to the general public; G20 countries and beyond. More details will be announced soon on our social media, so keep an eye out.  


But, it’s not just discussions to inform this year’s recommendations (as important as those will be). We’re also going to offer the chance for you to compete to influence next year’s Y20 too (to be hosted by Italy). We’ll announce more information on this competition soon, but I’ll spoil it for you a little – you’ll be asked to make a video about the issues that are really on your mind and some suggestions for the global community on how to solve them. An international jury and this year’s Y20 delegates will select the best and invite their makers to the summit in October… the outcomes will then be shared with the Italian delegation for 2021.


In fact, that we’re thinking of not just the Y20 for 2020 but Y20’s beyond is another key part of what we’re trying to achieve. The issues we’re addressing aren’t going to be solved this year, or even next year. We need something that’s long-running to address long-standing issues. So, for the Y20’s tenth birthday, let’s make this a Y20 with a legacy. We’re telling world leaders to listen, so it’s up to you to speak-up. Misk is ready to amplify your voice. Join us, join your global Y20 community for this year, next year and beyond.



Riyadh, 2 March 2020

  • Saudi Y20 team to bring the voices of young people to the G20.
  • Launch event brought young people together with government and UN officials.
  • In a Y20 first, a ‘Y20 Community’ will be built for grass roots engagement and to channel
  • ideas to the top table of international diplomacy.

Riyadh, 2 March 2020 – The Misk Foundation, in partnership with Ithra, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, yesterday launched Y20 at an evening event at its Riyadh headquarters attended by young leaders, UN and government officials, and the Kingdom’s G20 Sherpa. 

The Y20 is the most influential international diplomatic forum for young leaders, and the only officially recognised platform for young people to engage with the wider G20. It is one of eight official engagements under the G20 umbrella. 

At the inception day, the Y20 team set out its plans to make the Y20 an active and impactful channel between young leaders and the leadership of the G20 throughout the year. 

Saudi Arabia’s Y20 team have chosen to focus their activities around three key themes that complement the broader G20 goals: 

Future fit – preparing for the future of work and entrepreneurship; Empowerment – developing agile and dynamic future leaders; and Global citizens – promoting proactive, culturally sensitive problem solvers. 


The Y20 team also announced plans for a youth-led network, comprising young delegates from G20 countries and stakeholders from the private sector, academia and civil society, to develop a series of policy recommendations – to be delivered in the form of a communiqué – for consideration, approval and activation at the G20 heads of state summit. 

They explained how these discussions will be informed by new research by Misk and actionable White Papers developed with knowledge partners as well as a new database, planned as Saudi Y20’s legacy contribution to future Y20s. 

The inception event began with a ‘fireside’ discussion between the Executive Director of UNICEF, Ms Henrietta Fore, and young attendees. They discussed how young people can shape a better future, and the support UNICEF was investing into the youth of today. 

In her welcome remarks, Sarah Alkhedheiri, the Y20 Sherpa and Initiatives Manager at the Misk Foundation, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for young people to engage with global leaders on the most pressing issues of our time, and also to engage with each other as responsible global citizens. I’m calling on young people, wherever you are, to get involved: The Y20’s now open. World leaders are ready to listen, it’s now up to us, our delegates, and young people around the world to speak up and make their ideas heard.” 

Building on these themes, Othman Almoamar, Y20 Chair, and Research Manager at the Misk Foundation, said: “Young people are an important demographic – they account for 50% of the world’s population, about 90% of whom live in developing countries. And while research that we have done at Misk points to youth being optimistic in general, they still face challenges in the education, employment, and global citizenship domains. In 2020 the G20 priority areas coincide with these challenges and they are working to address some of the most pressing issues faced today. At the Y20, we will bring young people’s voice from G20 countries and beyond to ensure that their ideas, solutions, and ambition are delivered to the G20.” 

The evening’s keynote speeches by H.E. Fahad Almubarak, Saudi Arabia’s G20 Sherpa; Ms Henrietta Fore of UNICEF; and Mr Toily Kurbanov, Deputy Executive Coordinator of UN Volunteers, showed how Y20 is already bringing the voices of young people to the top table of international decision-making. 

Saudi Arabia’s G20 Sherpa, H.E. Fahad Almubarak, set out the importance with which the G20 regards the Y20 this year. Dr Almubarak said: “Meeting the Y20 cohort and hearing the solutions to 21st century challenges remains a highlight of any G20 presidency. In 2020, the Saudi G20 presidency is committed to engage with a broad range of civil society representatives.” 

Dr Almubarak spoke about how the G20’s priorities relate to young people, such as tackling the challenges associated with new patterns of work to ensure “future ready youth”. He added that the G20 would focus on financial inclusion. Dr Almubarak emphasized the role of financial inclusion in empowerment, saying: “access to financial services is a prerequisite for unlocking economic opportunities. The G20 agenda in 2020 will therefore focus on financial inclusion for youth, women and SMEs, complementing past presidencies’ efforts in this regard.” 

Dr Almubarak concluded by addressing the Y20, and wider global youth, by saying: “You are amongst the most educated, determined and inter-connected generation in human history, and you can impact change in the G20 and beyond. Over the next days and months, you have the unique privilege of representing your generation. In doing so you will help shape a global agenda to realize opportunities of the 21st century for all.” 

Addressing the young attendees, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said: “We believe there is simply no better investment in the future than an investment in today’s children and young people. After all, you’re tomorrow’s employees, employers, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders.” 

Abdullah Al-Rashid, Ithra’s Programs Director, announced a first in the history of the Y20 – the building of a ‘Y20 Community’ of around 2,000 young people aged 18-30 from across the G20 countries with the aim of ensuring an impactful two-way communications channel between young people, the Y20 and the wider G20. 

He said: “This is an initiative designed to bring decision-making closer to the people, especially to young people. We intend to involve thousands of young people from across the G20. We want to create a vibrant online community which can discuss the most pressing issues and move us towards robust, workable, solutions and policies, or at the very minimum present foundations for coherent future policies.” 

The Y20 Community will be formally launched with an open call to young people on social media, followed by three tracks of engagement: an awareness-raising track with online content generated by Y20 community members; priority areas discussions in the form of weekly webinars and monthly meetups open to the public; and a youth priorities initiative – an open call for young people to share a 1 minute video setting out the most pressing issues and suggestions relevant to them. The outcomes of this process will be passed on to the Italian delegation for consideration in next year’s Y20. Mr. 

Toily Kurbanov, Deputy Executive Coordinator of UN Volunteers, spoke of the importance of volunteering and emphasised that today’s youth have an important role in shaping the future. Speaking to the young people in attendance, he said: “Stop listening and agreeing that youth is the future, because youth is the present. No decision should be made without you. Do not wait for others to create an agenda for you.” 

The Y20 team is planning further activities during 2020, culminating in the Y20 2020 Summit in Riyadh from 12-18 October at which the Y20 Communiqué will be finalised for consideration at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in November.



Global citizenship – A natural state

By Shaima Hamidaddin

For 2020, global citizenship is a key theme for the Misk Global Forum. But what is a global citizen? Who is a global citizen? Really, the answer’s simple: It’s everyone on this planet. By nature, we’re all a part of this global community and none of us is completely isolated. But the truth of that sometimes gets lost in complex definitions and political debate. So, for us at Misk and for myself personally, nurturing everyone we work with to be conscious of that fact is really important – for their own benefit and for the planet’s.


For me, I know there’s no way I couldn’t consider myself a global citizen – I’ve been lucky to have studied and worked across the globe. And while I’m currently based in Saudi Arabia (where I come from), my work day-in and day-out puts me in touch with other people all over the world. And a little bit of every country I’ve lived in has stayed with me in some way. But, while I’ve been lucky to travel and to have this kind of job, international connectivity is a daily reality in households everywhere now.


In fact, as I’ve discovered with my own kids, young people today are probably the most connected of all. It’s not just online meetings, news channels, or working abroad: it’s cartoons (in Saudi Arabia we watch a lot of American, European, and Japanese shows sometimes dubbed into Arabic – your heroes are our heroes a lot of the time), it’s multiplayer video games), and it’s social media. These platforms may only give us a glimpse of another culture, but every glimpse teaches us something. And couple that with basic human insight, empathy, and understanding, and we’re able to connect internationally on a deeper level than ever before. Our cultures are in constant communication, absorbing each other’s heroes and villains, interests and concerns, tics and tik-toks. So there truly is a shared “global culture”, built on all our own local cultures interacting with each other.


And this isn’t just some fluffy thing it’s nice to have. We need these interactions, and the skills to make these interactions worthwhile.


On a personal level, a lot of us have or will have jobs, friendships, and relationships that cross borders – whether online or in real life. But there’s the other, more tangible, more impactful side to global citizenship: when we talk about actions and impacts, the local is global. On a bad day, we can see how pollution in one country can poison others 1000s of miles away; on a good day, we can see how a local solution can also spread internationally.


So, at Misk, we want to make everyone we work with aware that they’re global citizens. Of course, they’re citizens of their home countries, part of their local communities too, but they’re also citizens of everywhere. It means they’re responsible for themselves and for others. In my next piece, I’m going to talk in more detail about our main program on global citizenship, the Y20, which is part of the wider G20. I will try to share why it is encouraging people to take their local problems and solutions to a global level, and we will look at how you and others can get involved.


So, until then think about how in your daily life you’re interacting or impacting globally – think about what the show you’re watching tells you about another culture, about how your culture is reaching out to the world, and about how you too can reach out by taking some small local action. An action that can be implemented elsewhere, or has the potential to deliver a larger scale, global impact. Because no man or woman is an island and, these days, no country is really an island either.



Davos, Switzerland, 24 January 2020

The Misk Global Forum concluded its week of activations at Davos bringing the voices of young people to the World Economic Forum, with an inspirational discussion of new youth- led technologies transforming the world. 

In a conversation with Henri Arslanian, Global Crypto Leader at PWC, Juan Jose Pocaterra of Vikua highlighted the ways his company was using digitisation to provide public services to smaller, less-developed cities around the world, emphasising that, “technology in the places it’s most needed becomes an enabler for improving quality of life.” On the same panel, Chris Sheldrick CEO of what3words highlighted the ways his ground-breaking global mapping company is also improving lives by improving access to accurate transport, logistics and healthcare. “Let’s start where the need is greatest, then people will jump on,” Sheldrick said, adding, “let’s not get it hyped, let’s get it used.” 

That philosophy, getting things used and achieving real impact, united Misk’s various activations at Davos. Every morning a panel discussion featuring emerging and established entrepreneurs and thought-leaders highlighted the ways they are transforming their sectors before a diverse audience of drop-in guests – from WEF delegates to students of Davos’ schools. These sessions covered the skills young people need to lead, the ways business can balance profit with positive impact, and how people can care beyond borders in our shared world. The Pavilion also gave visitors insights into Misk’s various initiatives – from the 100,000 startups from over 180 countries brought together and accelerated through the Entrepreneurship World Cup, to the #ItStartsWithUs campaign’s online drive to engage and activate young people to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Shaima Hamidaddin, Executive Manager at the Misk Global Forum, said: “Our mission was to bring the voice of young people to Davos and I’m proud to say I think we achieved that. Across our panels and activations, we’ve seen young leaders and entrepreneurs show how they’re driving change and in doing so changed some minds. But as well as the voices we brought to Davos, we’ve also been inspired by the new voices that came to us through the Misk pavilion, young people eager to find a home for their ideas or established leaders eager for some insight into where the future might go.” 

Misk also hosted a dinner at the intercontinental, which once again brought the voices of young leaders from the Misk community, the WEF’s global shapers, and Entrepreneurship World Cup finalists, together with political, business, and cultural leaders. Youth-led discussions at every table, over food prepared by Saudi chef Najla Al Otaibi, saw guests discuss ways to up-skill young people, encourage global citizenship, and facilitate entrepreneurship. Across these discussions, emphasis returned repeatedly to the importance of education, of listening to young people, and value-driven approaches in business, insights that will be incorporated into Misk’s initiatives-planning for 2020 and beyond. 

Misk also supported the Saudi Café at Davos alongside Visit Saudi, bringing the flavours of the Arabian peninsula to the Swiss alps. Over the course of the week, over 2,000 visitors sampled Saudi delicacies like Shaatha Cake and Karak tea, again prepared by Najla Al Otaibi, while viewing images of the cultural and historic highlights of the Kingdom. The Misk Global Forum will continue its mission to empower young people throughout 2020 with a number of exciting and impactful initiatives, including the 2 nd phase of the Entrepreneurship World Cup, its hosting of the Y20 within Saudi Arabia’s broader G20 role, and the expansion of the #ItStartsWithUs campaign to empower young people to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals.



Youth lighting the future at Davos

Misk Global Forum at the World Economic Forum 2020

The World Economic Forum in Davos is the single most influential gathering of world leaders and business innovators on the planet – and we’ll be there to make sure the voice of young people is heard loud and clear.

There are 3.6 billion people under the age of 35, and for this new generation the world is changing faster than ever before. A brighter future is possible, but only if young people are able to lead the way.

That’s why we’re bringing together business leaders and young people throughout the World Economic Forum, with a series of high-level panel discussions around the theme “You Need Youth: Beacons to a Brighter Future”.

The sessions will be taking place in our special Misk Lighthouse space at the heart of Davos, which will also be hosting a series of projects and activations by young artists and business leaders.

Tuesday 21 January

07:40 am CET:
Misk Lighthouse project
, presented by a young entrepreneur

07:50 am-08:30 am CET:
Panel discussion:

Skills to lead: time for global action

Wednesday 22 January

07:40 am CET:
Misk Lighthouse project
, presented by a young entrepreneur

07:50 am-08:30 am CET:
Panel discussion:

Leave your mark: business to take a stance.

Thursday 23 January

07:40 am CET:
Misk Lighthouse project
, presented by a young entrepreneur

07:50 am-08:30 am CET:
Panel discussion:

Our shared world: caring beyond borders

Friday 24 January

07:40 am CET:
Misk Lighthouse project
, presented by a young entrepreneur

07:50 am-08:30 am CET:
Panel discussion:

Onwards: more than just a tale of life

Follow the action

If you can’t make it, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Follow our social media accounts for all the action from Davos throughout the week:

Traditional Saudi delicacies in the heart of the Swiss Alps? That’s what you’ll find at the Saudi Café by Misk all week at Davos – a space to work, connect, relax and recharge, while enjoying the best of Saudi cuisine and exploring interactive activations focused on youth empowerment.


If you’re at the World Economic Forum, you can find the Saudi Café all week at Promenade 80 in Davos.

Misk evening at the Intercontinental Davos

Our programme at the World Economic Forum will be capped by an evening of debate, discussion and fine food at the Intercontinental Hotel on Thursday 23 January.

The evening, which begins at 7:00 pm CET, will feature high-level conversations and networking, as well as an exclusive exhibition by outstanding Saudi artist and cultural researcher Moath Alofi.

If you’ll be in Davos, you can register to attend the dinner before 20 January by emailing davos@misk.org.sa.

These are the best new business ideas in the world

“What does the world’s best new business idea actually look like?”

This question was the beginning of the Entrepreneurship World Cup; a year-long global search for entrepreneurial brilliance.

Over the past year the EWC has been on a mission to discover and develop the top startups around the world- and we were amazed by the 100,000+ business ideas we received from 187 countries! If you’re thinking 100,000 sounds like a staggering amount, that’s what we thought too! But wait until you hear about our prize fund, which soared up to a phenomenal $1 million in cash prizes for the top five and $20+ million of in-kind support and services for our top 100.

We challenged the world to show us what entrepreneurial greatness really looks like. It’s not enough to have an incredible idea; you’ve got to showcase business skills to bring this idea into reality.

You’ve got to be able to stand in front of some of the world’s most established business makers and pitch your idea to them with passion and belief, because out of the 100,000+ only 5 business ideas are going to make it, so your business pitch has to make an impression.

Most importantly, you’ve got to dream big enough to push past the realms of possible and create something that can change the world as we know it.

Our challenge was accepted and over a series of showstopping national, regional and finally global competitions; we saw the greatest startups pitch their way to success.

How did our top five EWC champions claim their spots at the global finals in Riyadh and what did it take for our ultimate winner to snatch the grand prize? Read on to find out.


5th place

SUN Mobility

Who are they?

An Indian startup on a mission to make sustainable road travel a reality for the general public.


What are they doing?

Having identified the four main roadblocks in the electric transport industry as high costs, long charging time, equivalent infrastructure, and range anxiety, SUN Mobility has developed the solutions needed to render these obsolete. These solutions include speedy charging stations, interconnected intelligent systems and smart batteries/networks.


Why did they make the top 5?

The business idea presented to our expert panel was fantastic, but it was the pitch that propelled them to a win – confident and backed up by a solid strategy.


What did they win?

SUN Mobility walked away with a $50,000 cash prize and the Shenzhen prize (awarded to our top 40 finalists) designed to help the company expand into China.


Check out SUN Mobility here

4th place


Who are they?

An Argentinian company disrupting sales with advanced biometric solutions.


What are they doing?

Sumato-ID are using next-gen tech to help retailers optimise costs and maximise sales. The business is using facial recognition, advanced traffic analysis and innovative new communication tools to help companies create personalised promotions in real time – making shopping personal and bridging the gap between online and in-store experiences.


Why did they make the top 5?

Our panel of industry experts were particularly impressed by the unique approach this company is taking in the retail sector. Sumato-ID clearly articulated what it means to be a major disruptor – a startup shaking up its given industry for the benefit of everyone involved, creators and consumers alike. 


What did they win?

 Global exposure and a fantastic $50,000 to help the company flourish.


Find out more

3rd place

Red Sea Farms

Who are they?

A Saudi startup revolutionising farming with seawater


What are they doing?

Red Sea Farms is using cutting-edge tech to cultivate organic and pesticide-free produce while using less water and energy than regular farming methods. By harnessing sea water, farms can achieve a greater level of sustainability and thrive in harsher climates.


Why did they make the top 5?

The company clearly puts purpose above profit, and this saw them become a quick fan favourite amongst the crowd. Our panel was impressed by the scope of this business, and unanimously believed in its potential to transform global agriculture for the better.


What did they win?

Red Sea Farms took home a truly incredible $150,000 to help skyrocket their startup.


See them in action

2nd place


Who are they? 

A USA-based company using biological neurons to create living machines.


What do they do?

Essentially this company is creating the future. By developing next-gen nanotechnology that sees wetware chips infused with biological neurons, Koniku is able to create unbelievably advanced tech such as cameras that can smell cancer and detectors that can spot explosive devices from kilometres away.


Why did they make the top 5?

The level of innovation exhibited by this startup over three days of EWC pitches was nothing short of amazing. The atmosphere was electric as they pitched, with both our audience and panel being blown away, it was like something straight out of a sci-fi movie.


What did they win?

As if coming 2nd out of 102,000 startups wasn’t enough, Koniku also claimed a colossal $250,000 cash prize. We can’t wait to watch them take even greater leaps into the unknown and are thrilled to be a part of their incredible journey.



Discover more from Koniku

1st place

NERv Technology Inc.

Who are they?

A Canadian business using post-surgical tech to save lives


What are they doing?

Developing advanced sensors and predictive models to be used by surgeons in post-operative care. Their technology detects complications that could arise after surgery such as gastrointestinal leakage (which currently affects more than 100,000 patients in the USA every year alone) and provides surgeons with enough foresight to resolve these complications swiftly, minimising any risk of major trauma or even death.


Why did they win?

NERv Technology embodied everything the Entrepreneurship World Cup stood for – one business idea with the potential to change millions of lives. Not only did they smash every single pitch out of the park, they also presented an idea that could make history by ushering in a whole new era for global healthcare. Our judges were unanimous in their praise and excitement for the future of this startup.


What did they win?

Global exposure, expert mentorship and guidance, the title of our world’s best new business and an utterly mindblowing $500,000 cash prize. In a word, remarkable!


See our winner here

To say the Entrepreneurship World Cup has inspired us would be a drastic understatement, each and every startup we saw presented a unique point of view and the determination needed to impact positive global change.


We applaud each and every entrant and can’t wait to see what the next round of the EWC will bring. Want to find out more about our competitors and discover more about what went down at the global final? Click the link below.




Five Misk Merit stories you don’t want to miss

🍿 at the ready – we’ve got something amazing to tell you about!

Our initiative Misk Merit, in partnership with World Merit, is helping global citizens make huge change happen all across the world… and we couldn’t be prouder.

So what was our challenge? Put simply, to develop 50 million global citizens by 2030 – and help create a network of young people capable of tackling some of the world’s toughest issues.

Our strategy? To activate hundreds of youth-led councils across the globe and task them with creating initiatives to support their local communities.

Our (ongoing) results? In a word, incredible!

Our Misk Merit members are taking action and making a remarkable difference by tackling one or more of the following essential Sustainable Development Goals from the UN:

  1. No poverty
  2. Good health and wellbeing
  3. Quality education
  4. Decent work and economic growth
  5. Industry, innovation and infrastructure.

Check out five brilliant Misk Merit ideas that have already had a massive impact below.


  1. World Radio Day, Blantyre, Malawi – 13February

World Radio Day certainly got people listening this year with its focus on dialogue, tolerance and peace. Malawian station MBC Radio 1 introduced Lan, a young man living with albinism, who led a difficult yet desperately needed conversation on the risks facing the Malawian albino community on a day to day basis.

Reaching around 8 million listeners, this Misk Merit event made waves in its local community – and indeed the world!


  1. Tuk Tuk Technology Courses, Siem Reap, Cambodia – May

The tuk-tuk is Cambodia’s number one form of public transport and has recently benefited from the introduction of an Uber-esque platform called PassApp.

Allowing users to book rides and pinpoint destinations via their smartphone, this technology has become increasingly popular amongst tourists, but has threatened to cost non-English speaking tuk-tuk drivers work due to an unfamiliarity with the app and issues with language barriers.

In May 2019, Misk Merit launched a technology training course for Siem Reap tuk-tuk drivers, helping to develop their English skills and ability to use PassApp.

This initiative has supported local drivers and, in turn, their ability to support their own families.


  1. World Book Day, Liverpool UK – 7March

World Book Day gives children and parents the chance to expand their minds with a wide range of literature.

This year, more than 600 UK based pupils aged 5-11 were able to learn more about plastic pollution and the enormous impact it’s having on our environment.

Reading and discussing a book about reducing single use plastic (written by one of our own Misk Merit members) these students became active global citizens, exploring and indeed challenging their own understanding of this ongoing worldwide issue.


  1. Cleanup of Lake Tanganyika, Bujumbura, Burundi – 16 February

Holding 17% of the globe’s surface freshwater and stretching out far enough to border four countries, Lake Tanganyika offers a source of livelihood to more than 10 million people.

Plastic pollution has had a massive impact upon the lake’s water however, prompting Misk Merit members to stage a large-scale cleanup.

This event saw 500 volunteers collect approximately 16,500 pieces of plastic in a single day!

By targeting high profile community members and the local media, this initiative gained enough exposure to be declared a monthly activity and is paving the way when it comes to education about single use plastics in the surrounding area.


  1. Vibrant Park Event, Green Point Park, Cape Town – 23 February

‘Quality education through nature’ was the aim of this Misk Merit initiative. Collaborating with UK based charity HYPE (Helping Young People Everywhere) the Vibrant Park event at Green Point Park helped educate a number of children on their surrounding ecosystems as well as engaging them in a football tournament.

Focusing on improving the attendees’ mental health and wellbeing, this event was exceptionally well received and was successful in activating more global citizens for the future.


Don’t miss a single Misk Merit story, sign up today to stay in the loop and find out how you can get involved.



Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 14 November 2019

After a successful fourth edition of the Misk Global Forum (MGF), the event closed today following the announcement of the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) winner and two days of insightful panels exploring the future of workspace, workforce and workflow. 

Canadian businessman and TV personality Kevin O’Leary, who was one of the EWC’s judges, described the Misk Global Forum as “the best conference I’ve ever been to in terms of deal flow”. 

During the event, speakers and participants from over 120 different countries engaged in discussions aimed at empowering young people to tackle the new trends and transformations sweeping the world of work. 

The second day commenced with a speech and a panel moderated by H.R.H. Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud on the future of eSports and, its growing importance in Saudi Arabia. The prince explained that: in eSports, the two greatest drivers for change and development have come together – youth and gaming. Those who have not been able to adapt to the needs and wants of the youth generation have been marked as outdated and have faded away. If we do not embrace this generation to guide us on this journey, then we are destined to fade away as well.

In a panel titled “Education – Changing the (Inter)Face of Learning”, speakers addressed the steps to take towards the future of education. Nazrene Mannie, Executive Director at GAN Global, said that organisations need to change how they recruit and recognise talent. Steve Brazel, CEO of Fullbridge, urged educators to change their approach towards education, stating that “smart educators have got to think much broader than curriculum; we’ve got to think from start to finish about the learning experience.” 

Examining the changes that hosting the Y20 summit will bring to Saudi Arabia next year, Sarah Alkhedheiri, Initiatives Manager at the Misk Foundation, explained that the Kingdom is different from other G20 countries in terms of population, and the transformation the country has been experiencing. Alkhedheiri said: “we’ll be able to show the world what Saudi Arabia has, but we’ll also be able to contribute to the world and give more of what we have to offer.” 

The MGF concluded with a full house watching the announcement of the EWC winner, who won a first prize of US$500,000. Canadian company NERv Technology Inc provides an innovative monitoring system for post-operative patients that aims to ensure that no patient loses their life because of an undetected post-operative complication.’



Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 14 November 2019

  • NERv Technology wins US$500,000 in cash, Shenzen Prize to expand in China, and thousands of dollars of in-kind-support.

  • Winner selected from 100,000 entrants from 185 countries, following year-long competition conducted by the Misk Global Forum.

  • The other top five finalists were Koniku Inc. (USA), Red Sea Farms (Saudi Arabia), Sumato-ID (Argentina) and SUN Mobility (India).

The global finals of the 2019 Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) concluded today at the fourth edition of the Misk Global Forum (MGF). The winner was NERv Technology Inc. (www.ne-rv.com) from Canada, an innovative monitoring system for post-operative patients that strives to ensure that no patient loses their life because of an undetected post-operative complication. NERv Tech. received a US$500,000 cash prize, in addition to a number of support and in-kind-opportunities from EWC partners around the world. This included the “Shenzen Prize” to help the company expand in China. 

Speaking after the awards ceremony, Amr Abdelgawad, COO and co-founder of NERv Tech., said: “the experience has been absolutely fantastic. We’ve been around like-minded individuals from hundreds of different countries, speaking different languages, engaging with people from different cultures, but we all have one thing in mind – we’re all persistent and working really hard to make our startups a success. To be the winner today is a testament to everything we’ve been doing, we’ve been working really hard for five years in order to make this dream a reality.” 

The EWC global finals in Riyadh were the culmination of a year-long competition organised by the Misk Global Forum and the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), along with a number of regional and strategic partners including Global Silicon Valley Labs (GSV Labs) and the Global Education and Leadership Foundation (tGELF). Over the course of 2019, 102,000 entrants from 187 countries were narrowed down through national and regional finals to 100 startups from 67 countries. 

Arriving in Riyadh last week, the 100 finalists enjoyed a two-day bootcamp at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), to make last-minute adjustments and improvements to their pitches under the eye of expert mentors, and with feedback from each other. Over the two days of the Misk Global Forum, these 100 startups were gradually narrowed down through heats and elimination stages to a final five. Taking to the stage, the finalists were selected by a panel of four international judges, all of them world leaders in business and entrepreneurship, and an audience vote. The final five were:

  • 1 st place: NERv Technology Inc. from Canada
  • 2 nd place: Koniku Inc. from the United States
  • 3 rd place: Red Sea Farms from Saudi Arabia
  • 4 th place: Sumato-ID from Argentina
  • 5 th place: SUN Mobility from India

Abdulrahman Al Suhaymi, who leads the EWC, the flagship entrepreneurship initiative at Misk, said: “Firstly, huge congratulations to our finalists and to NERv Technology. They are truly inspirational. While we called this event the finals, it’s really just part of the longer entrepreneurial journey all startups are on together. There are no losers in the EWC; all the entrants are now part of a truly global network of fellow innovators. They’ve all won the most important things to any startup: global experience, insight into new markets, and potential partners and collaborators. We’re incredibly proud and excited for them all and look forward to seeing what they achieve next.” 

Jonathan Ortmans, President of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, said: “Through the Entrepreneurship World Cup, our focus is on making it possible for anyone – anywhere – to start and scale a new company that solves a problem or fills a need. These entrepreneurs, not just the winners but everyone that participated in this competition, have already taken the next step in their journey by trying, learning and competing. Through their startups and through their passion, they will make the world a better place.”

The 2019 Entrepreneurship World Cup was the largest and most diverse global pitch competition of its kind. The next edition of the EWC will launch in 2020, continuing throughout the year to discover and empower new entrepreneurs from across the globe.


Invest Saudi announces strategic sponsorship of Entrepreneurship World Cup Global Finals at 2019 Misk Global Forum

• Invest Saudi will be main sponsor of the Entrepreneurship World Cup global finals and collaborate on future EWC plans.

• Invest Saudi’s sponsorship part of wider partnership between Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority and Misk signed in 2018 at the Misk Global Forum.

• Entrepreneurship World Cup global finals will be held at the 2019 Misk Global Forum annual gathering in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from 12 – 14 November

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 13 November 2019

Invest Saudi today announced its sponsorship of the 2019 Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) global finals, being held at the Misk Global Forum (MGF) annual gathering in Riyadh from 12 – 14 November.

Invest Saudi will work closely with MGF and the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), the international organisers of the EWC, in the workshops and classes offered to the finalists and will also have priority access to potential investments in the winning finalists.

H.E. Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al Qassabi, the Minister of Commerce and Investment and Chairman of Board of Directors at SAGIA, will be awarding the prizes to the winning finalists.

Dr. Mazin AlZaidi, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Segment Director, representing Invest Saudi, said: “It has never been easier to start a business in Saudi Arabia. In late 2017 SAGIA introduced the Entrepreneurship License that allows foreign start-ups to setup their business in Saudi with 100% ownership. We have licensed more than 200 start-ups in the last 24 months at an average of eight start-ups per month. In addition, just in the last six months more than 45 VCs have joined the VENTURE by Invest Saudi initiative that enables VCs to either bring in their portfolio companies to Saudi or invest in local and foreign start-ups in the Saudi market.”

Dr. AlZaidi continued: “We are delighted to be supporting the Misk Initiative – building on the partnership we established at the Misk Global Forum last year. Innovation is at the core of our vision for the future of the Saudi economy and we look forward to the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s most talented entrepreneurs at the Entrepreneurship World Cup.”

Abdulrahman Al Suhaymi, who leads the EWC, the flagship entrepreneurship initiative at Misk, added: “The EWC has offered life-changing opportunities to its entrants from the start, but Invest Saudi’s partnership takes those opportunities to the next level. We’re also looking forward to working with Invest Saudi on the EWC’s 2020 plans.”

The partnership between Invest Saudi and the EWC is part of the wider strategic partnership between the Misk Initiatives Center and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), which oversees the Invest Saudi initiative. The partnership was originally signed at the 2018 MGF annual gathering and has seen SAGIA and MGF collaborate on a range of projects and initiatives around the world, including the Misk Media Forum events in Riyadh and Cairo and Misk’s activations in China and India.  

INVEST SAUDI’s support for the EWC is part of its role in growing the Kingdom’s startup sector and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). With the introduction of the 3-hour Entrepreneurship License, introduced by SAGIA in 2017, and dedicated platforms and initiatives supporting foreign investors resulting in 200 startups being registered in the last 24 months, Invest Saudi is demonstrating that it has never been easier to start a business in Saudi.




Notes to editors:

 About INVEST SAUDI: INVEST SAUDI is the national investment promotion brand and platform, providing insights into the value propositions for targeted investment sectors within the Kingdom. In line with Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia aims to become a leading investment destination through diversifying its economy across different sectors. To learn more, please visit InvestSaudi.sa.


About the Entrepreneurship World Cup: The EWC is the biggest and most diverse startup pitch competition and support program of its kind, featuring 100,000 entrepreneurs from 170 countries. It offers winners life-changing prizes, including training and resources, networking and connection opportunities, investment, and cash-prizes totalling US$5 million. It also supports all entrants with a virtual incubator, enabling them to refine and hone their pitches throughout the competition. The EWC global finals are taking place at the fourth annual gathering of the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh in November. The EWC has five stages of participation:

  • Education and virtual training
  • National Finals
  • Virtual and direct training sessions in preparation for Global Finals
  • Live training sessions and on-stage competitions
  • Global peer network offering mentorship and support service

About the Misk Global Forum

The Misk Global Forum (MGF) is the flagship international platform of the Misk Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic foundation established by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discover, develop and empower Saudi youth to become active participants in the future economy.

Since its launch in 2016, MGF has extended Misk’s mission to young people across the globe. Through international events, research and global initiatives, MGF brings together emerging and established leaders, innovators, and creators to explore, experience and experiment with ways to meet the challenge of change. MGF focuses on three core areas across its activations: skills for the future economy; entrepreneurship and employment; and active global citizenship. Website: https://miskglobalforum.com/about-mgf/  


About the Global Entrepreneurship Network: The Global Entrepreneurship Network operates a platform of projects and programs in 170 countries aimed at making it easier for anyone, anywhere to start and scale a business. By fostering deeper cross border collaboration and initiatives between entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and entrepreneurial support organizations, GEN works to fuel healthier start and scale ecosystems that create more jobs, educate individuals, accelerate innovation and strengthen economic growth.



Shaima Hamidaddin, Executive Manager of the Misk Global Forum

Are entrepreneurs born or made? In some circles, the belief persists being a successful entrepreneur – an Elon Musk or a Jack Ma – requires some ineffable, innate spark of genius. But at Misk we believe that, with the right support, anyone can become an entrepreneur. Through our various entrepreneurship programs and initiatives we’ve been working to prove that.

This week will see the culmination of one of these programs: the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC), organised by the Misk Global Forum (MGF) and the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN). Ahead of the global finals at the MGF annual gathering (12 – 14 November), we joined 96 EWC startups at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) for an intensive two-day pitching bootcamp. Arriving in palmy, balmy Jeddah from over 60 countries, the participants demonstrated that the skills needed to be an entrepreneur and to pitch an idea can indeed be learned.

Of course, some finalists arrived almost fully formed – concise, confident and compelling. Yet, for others, it was clear that their ideas were not being served by their approach to pitching. Over the course of the bootcamp, these entrepreneurs have transformed (just in time for their chance to win some of EWC’s life-changing prizes). And that’s all thanks to the work done in those two days by our partners: The experts from KAUST’s own startup accelerator program and GEN.

Across broad plenary sessions and small-group mentoring sessions, the entrepreneurs learned how to – as we Saudis put it – cut to al zibdah (the butter) when they pitch and how to take potential investors on an emotional journey as they describe their businesses. But, as Executive Director of GEN Accelerates Dr Susan Amat put it in her welcome address, without forgetting that they were not in a “fake it ‘til you make it space” but a “be real space.”

Amid the mentoring and discussions, one thing particularly stood out: Although the EWC is a competition – and there’s no doubt that every startup is hungry for recognition and all that comes with it – there was no sense of competing interests in the room. Instead, all the participants were eager to share lessons and advice from their own experiences, their successes and their failures. This was – as befits the setting – a truly collegiate experience, with the mentoring sessions particularly instructive. Here, groups of 3 – 5 startups sat with mentors from GEN, running through their pitches. While the entrepreneurs received guidance from their mentor, they also shared advice with each other, eager to see their ostensible competitors do as well as possible.

And maybe that’s because, at heart, there is something innate to all entrepreneurs: A passion for change. Indeed, Hattan Ahmed, head of the entrepreneurship centre at KAUST, alluded to just this in his opening speech, stating that he and the team were “thrilled to work with crazy people – people like you. Driving people to make changes around the world.”

So, while I think that passion is something that can’t be taught, I also believe that passion is something that’s innate to all of us.

Make sure to follow the progress of the EWC Global Final online at: https://miskglobalforum.com/forum/


New York City, 25 September 2019

  • Misk brings together established and emerging business leaders discuss key challenges and opportunities in education and the job market facing young people.

  • Vital importance of changing the goals of business to leave a positive impact on both individuals and society a further key element of discussions.

  • Panel hears from 21 year-old entrepreneur David Zamarin that young people “want to feel that we’re valuable, that we can provide value.”

The Misk Global Forum today hosted a breakout session at the Bloomberg Business Forum in New York on the theme of “youth, the driving force of a prosperous economy.” 

The panel was composed of established business and thought leaders in Kai-Fu Lee, CEO of Sinovation Ventures, and Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMWare, alongside young entrepreneurs David Zamarin, Founder & CEO DetraPel, and Hansa Bergwall, Co-founder of WeCroak, who also moderated the discussion. Over the course of a wide-ranging discussion, which included questions from an audience of Bloomberg Global Business Forum attendees, the panel exchanged ideas on how young people can seize and capitalize opportunities in business to ensure prosperity for themselves and society, to ultimately cause real impacts that leave positive legacies. 

The panellists agreed on the vital importance of education to ensuring that young people have the skills they need, but also asserted that education systems need to evolve in line with the demands of the world. Pat Gelsinger noted that, “we used to say education was reading, writing, and arithmetic. In the future we might say it’s read, write code, and arithmetic,” while asserting that solving access to education through basic connectivity was achievable within the next ten or twenty years. 

Expanding on the theme of education, the speakers further emphasized the importance of personal mentors to young people’s success. Entrepreneur David Zamarin, himself only 21 years old, spoke from his personal experience, saying, “I learnt a lot from social media and online… But I wouldn’t have been able to get started without the personalized mentorship I got that took me to the next step.” Agreeing with Zamarin, Kai-Fu Lee suggested three things for young people to look for in a mentor: “One, someone you respect… Two, you’re looking for life experiences in them that you can bring to your own life. Third, you’re looking for time. I want some of their time invested into my life.” 

The panel went on to discuss some of the changes sweeping the world of work, including both the pitfalls and opportunities posed by these rapid changes. On the “gig economy,” Kai- Fu Lee noted that, “in the future we should imagine that people aren’t stuck with one job, 2 they’re doing two or three things… I don’t think humans are meant to be on earth to do routine jobs.” 

David Zamarin agreed, urging young people looking to succeed to “find what your value is for people who want to consume your creativity,” while offering reassurance that, “if you fail, that’s ok! In reality failure is just learning from mistakes. A gig economy provides that [opportunity to learn].” 

Pat Gelsinger linked this to their discussion of education, emphasising that to succeed in this environment constant skill development was vital and that, “training is no longer a statement of completion, it’s an ongoing life event… All of us have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.” 

Discussions turned to the ways in which young people and companies can cause wider positive impacts. David Zamarin offered that, “a lot of time people are afraid of risk, but I think as entrepreneurs and business leaders we like taking on risk. It’s a great way of stimulating the economy.” Zamarin also noted that a big motivator for a lot of young entrepreneurs is “to make such a dent into their world that it changes fundamental rules.” 

Pat Gelsinger, referencing the threat posed by climate change, argued that while no one business could make enough of a difference, “collectively we can un-bankrupt the planet for the next generation,” while also emphasising that, “the role of the business is not just about shareholder returns.” 

Kai-Fu Lee, speaking from his experience as a mentor, stated that, “people really have to do what they love to be the best they can be…. So in our company we want to hire the best people and put them in the right seats… Help people find the true voice in their heart, and be who they want to be.” 

While Hansa Bergwall noted in his opening and closing remarks that, “the youth of today want to hold on to those things that matter the most and let go of everything else,” and called on people to recognize that, “life is short and previous and to make the most of it while you can.” 

The session was organized by the Misk Global Forum (MGF). Opening the session and welcoming the panellists to the stage, Shaima Hamidaddin, Executive Manager of the Misk Global Forum, noted that, “We take the Misk Foundation’s mission around the world, to over 185 countries. We empower young people, over 900,000 so far, to thrive in the future economy and become active global citizens. And attending events such as the Bloomberg Business Forum is part of that mission.

Earlier in the week, the Misk Global Forum hosted the inaugural Misk Youth Forum as another element of its international mission. At the forum, young people from over 70 countries came together in the heart of global business to discuss how to change business for good by balancing profit with purpose and place a new emphasis on the fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)





New York City, 23 September 2019

  • 255 participants, young people of over 70 different nationalities and 47 speakers lent
    their voice to the global debate around balancing profit with purpose and fulfilling the. Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Discussions focused on the importance of young people being afforded and taking leadership roles, harnessing their unique ambitions and energies.
  • New #ItStartsWithUs initiative launched with #OneWord challenge to engage young people around the world with Sustainable Development Goals.

New York City, 23 September 2019The inaugural Misk Youth Forum closed today with young people from over 70 countries coming together in the heart of global business to discuss how to change business for good by balancing profit with purpose and putting a new emphasis on the fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Across the day’s events, young people engaged with established leaders, emerging changemakers, and their peers on challenging themselves and their leaders to bring real change. The topics discussed ranged from the importance of entrepreneurship to sustainable development to the role of sports in driving wider changes; from taking personal responsibility for change to how new regulatory approaches can incentivise socially- responsible businesses, all with the goal of creating real impact on the ground. 

The forum also saw the launch of one new way to drive impact: the #OneWord challenge of #ItStartsWithUs. This is a new initiative to drive young people’s engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals by writing one word they believe can inspire action and impact on their finger, tweeting a photo, and challenging their friends to do the same. 

Opening the wider forum, Shaima Hamidaddin, Executive Manager of Misk Global Forum, emphasised that the event was an opportunity for the young people in attendance “to bring your voices, ideas, energy and creativity to policy-makers, NGO leaders and business leaders. Together you can work to redefine the purpose of business for good, achieve social and environmental goals, and sustain those impacts for the long-term.” 

With the forum’s mission laid out, a full house heard from three young social entrepreneurs from across the world had begun to do just that. Victoria Alonsoperez, Founder & CEO of Chipsafer in Uruguay, spoke of how an outbreak of disease that threatened her country’s vital agricultural sector had inspired her to combine social concerns with a passion for new technology to create Chipsafer. She called on young people to be given greater access to new technologies, “because what they can achieve is unbelievable – they can solve the problems in their communities.” 

Razan Farhan Alaqil, Saudi Arabia’s National Focal Point of the Arab Youth Platform for Sustainable Development, called on young people to take action themselves, saying, “each individual in this room, each individual all around the world has to be responsible to say ‘I am responsible for my lifestyle.’ We can’t expect to see change if we’re not a part of it.” 

Meanwhile, Ezequiel Vedana da Rosa from Brazil, founder of sanitation solution Piipee, emphasised the need for entrepreneurs and changemakers to focus on simple solutions and offered a simple mantra for success to guide others: “I think our challenge is life is to find a purpose… because i really believe we are not just here to be here. We have to have a mission to do good.” 

As the day progressed, more young entrepreneurs offered their experiences and inspiration to the audience, earning praise from established leaders who expressed their admiration and hopes for the new generation to “change the world if we give them the chance.” Indeed, sustainability expert Paul Polman, Co-Founder & Chair of Imagine, stated that, “it’s young people’s future. So we need to be sure we not only give them a seat at the table, we give them the table.” 

Alongside the vital role played by business and the private sector, the Saudi women’s football team – founded for and competing in the SDG World Cup – offered a unique insight into how sports can have a wider impact. Taking to the stage, the team described how their sports clubs were bringing together the teams, families, and Saudi authorities to improve health, recycle, and completely engage their community with the SDGs. Their session ended with footballing legend Thierry Henry taking to the stage, ahead of his own session on how to expand access to education, to offer his own coaching expertise. 

Alongside these plenary sessions, the World Bank, Acumen, Bridge for Billions, and Global Pulse conducted workshops on how to achieve entrepreneurship success and drive change through social enterprises. 

The Misk Youth Forum was held as part of the Misk Global Forum’s commitment to taking its mission to empower young people with the skills they need for the future economy and to become global citizens. The forum concluded with Shaima Hamidaddin thanking all those who had taken part and expressing the hope that participants would join MGF at its annual gathering in Riyadh in November.

Misk Global Forum at TED 2018 - Jason Redmond / TED


Youth Forum

Inaugural Edition:

Youth Want Impact: Changing Businesses for Good

How can we balance purpose with profit?

In the next decade, humanity, half of which is below the age of 30, must meet the collective challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With their energy, optimism, and openness to new technologies, young people can lead the change to achieve the world we want by 2030. Unlike previous generations, young people are redefining the purpose of businesses globally, driven by the conviction that business is key to promoting social good and the sustainability of our planet.

Together, let’s build a platform for positive change and development, a portal to vital networking and knowledge, and an incubator for lasting initiatives and inspiration.


The clock will soon start ticking for the ten-year countdown to 2030, the target date for the achievement of the SDGs and a sustainable future for generations to come. The inaugural Misk-OSGEY Youth Forum aims to support young people to lead the way in transforming the purpose of business, by growing the number of global entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs (entrepreneurship within an existing organization) for good.


Participants will be provided tips to transform their businesses and bring positive change through a series of hands-on sessions.


Will be announced soon 


On 23 September 2019 from 1pm to 6pm, during the UN General Assembly Week, on the sidelines of the Climate Summit.


300 young people with extraordinary commitment to a better world and leadership.

Redefining the Purpose of Businesses.

An increasing number of young people are taking development issues into their own hands. Whether as social entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs, they are redefining the purpose of business away from simple profitability into a quest for broader social prosperity. With 4 out of 5 millennials believing that a business’ success should be measured by more than just its financial performance, this is a unique opportunity to transform businesses into key, positive players that address global challenges.

Empowering Youth as Entrepreneurs of Change.

Half of the world’s population is below the age of 30, yet only a limited proportion of them are actively involved in driving change within their communities and organizations. Many of them feel that their aspirations are frustrated by a systemic lack of support – the very reason 45% are still hesitating to start their own businesses.

Changing Both New and Existing Organizations for Good.

Young people have a greater role – and stake – in achieving the SDGs than ever before. This Misk- OSGEY Youth Forum stands as a new platform for empowering young people as global citizens. Together we will identify support mechanisms, discuss best practices, and share skills to aspiring global social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, so they can become the changemakers needed to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.


Misk Global Forum was established in 2016 as the ongoing, international platform of the Misk Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic foundation established in 2011 by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discover, develop and empower Saudi youth to become active participants in the knowledge economy and active global citizens. MGF takes this mission around the world, through engagement, partnerships and events, bringing young leaders, creators and thinkers together with established global innovators to explore, experience and experiment with ways to meet the challenge of change.


Established in 2013, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth (OSGEY) plays an instrumental role in leading the UN global efforts to promote youth development and mainstream youth needs, rights and priorities across the three pillars of the United Nations: peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. OSGEY actively promotes the expansion of the UN’s youth engagement and advocacy efforts across all areas of the UN’s work, at global, regional and country levels, and plays a catalytic role in harmonization efforts to advance youth issues across the UN-System in a coherent and coordinated way.

Introducing the winners of

Misk Grand Challenges

Through our Misk Grand Challenges initiative in 2018, we asked you to tell us your biggest ideas to revolutionize education and help make us all better global citizens.


Our first round saw an incredible 2,900 entries from 148 countries, all with extraordinary and innovative ideas to make the world a better place – and each of them had the chance to receive a $100,000 grant to bring their idea to life.

We’re proud to unveil the winners, chosen by a team of experts


world-changing ideas


Countries around the world

Here’s more about each of them


  • South Africa

Described as the “LinkedIn for South African teachers,” Zibuza is an online community for South Africa’s 400,000 teachers that provides high-quality training materials and other helpful resources.


  • Guatemala

In Guatemala, teaching quality can be low due to limited access to high-quality learning resources. RACHEL is an offline server full of learning materials that can be supplemented with a digital training program to allow teachers to develop their 21st-century skills.


  • India

EdCaptain is an online platform for high-quality teacher training materials and other education resources, crowdsourced from the best teachers and curated by AI. Its aim is to reach the 50 million educators in India who are actively looking to develop their skills.


  • USA

STEAM Café is an online platform to help elementary teachers across the USA learn how to teach STEM skills, offering training, an online marketplace for content and its own digital community.

Ali the AI Tutor

  • USA

More than 250 million children across the globe lack basic literacy and numeracy skills, so Ali the AI tutor was created to teach students one-on-one or to act as a teaching assistant.

Edumoción Movil

  • Colombia

Young people in Columbia can lack social and emotional skills, partially because its 300,000 teachers are not trained in how to teach them. Edumoción Movil is a blended learning course to train teachers in how best to teach these skills.

The Birds and the Bees

  • Pakistan

In Pakistan, most schools still rely heavily on outdated teaching models such as rote learning. The Birds and the Bees is a learning resource centre that immerses children in the practical activities of birdkeeping and beekeeping – this helps them to develop skills they’ll need for the future such as entrepreneurship through their honey-selling social enterprise.


  • Chad, Cameroon, Greece

There are currently 13 million children displaced from their homes and living as refugees – and Little Ripples’ idea will allow them to receive better education to develop 21st-century skills, including helping them to manage their own psychological well-being.

Youth Agripreneurs

  • Trinidad and Tobago

From “agriculture” to “agri-coolture” – Young Agripreneurs and WHYFARM are transforming the language of agriculture with comic books, poetry and drama to inspire the next generation of farmers.

Peace First Challenges

  • Middle East and North Africa

The 1.6 billion young people around the world are ready to help solve global problems, but are being held back because of a lack of resources, tools, knowledge and mentors – which is where Peace First steps in to give them the tools they’ll need.


  • Kenya

There are currently 10 million people in Kenya suffering from food insecurity, and many millions more around the world, due to external factors such as weather but also solvable logistical challenges such as storage, transport and waste. EFSOYC supports young people to implement innovative food security initiatives and share their stories with others to inspire them.


  • Brazil

Around two million people in Salvador live in slum communities affected by diseases that flourish because of rat or mosquito breeding grounds such as sewage and rubbish. +Lugar is an open-source gamified app that young people can use to map out these areas and then have community discussions about how best to eliminate them.


  • USA

Novelly is an app that educates young people on social issues, helping them solve issues around the SDGs by creating a cohesive central platform to learn about them, discuss them and encourage other young people to develop innovative solutions to tackle them.

The SDG Experience

  • USA

The SDG Experience offers young people the chance to experience virtual field trips using 360-degree spherical imagery. The project teaches them about specific UN Sustainable Development Goals – and then allows them to share their learnings in order to inspire others.

My School R.O.C.K.S

  • Canada

Music and Wellness R.O.C.K.S is an education app with which students can write, record, manipulate and share music projects using their own devices. It moves beyond traditional music sharing by helping teachers create lessons that motivate students and engage learners beyond the classroom through the power of performing arts and file sharing tech.

Stay tuned to our social channels as we highlight the winners individually over the coming weeks!

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Davos 2019
How can young people shape a better world? That's the question Misk Global Forum will be tackling at this year in Davos.

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At Davos, we’ll be giving young people a voice with a series of high-level events to discuss how young people are shaping the future economy, with top-class speakers covering everything from global citizenship to youth entrepreneurship.

7:00-8 :30 Skills for Our Future: Preparing for the Unexpected - Misk Pavilion @ Morosani

Topics for discussion will include:

  • What are the key skills needed to thrive in a rapidly changing world and how to acquire them?
  • Whose responsibility should it be to build a future-proof workforce?
  • How to build curricula and learning practices for youth to acquire a combination of technical and social skills, the key to succeed in the future economy?


  • Roland Busch, CTO, Siemens
  • Rapelang Rabana, Chair and Founder, Rekindle Learning
  • Jay Varkey, Group Executive Director, GEMS Education
  • Mark Vernooij, Partner, ThiNK School of Creative Leadership

Moderated by: Edie Lush, Executive Editor, Hub Culture

7:00-8 :30 Better Citizens: Can We All Be Leaders? - Misk Pavilion @ Morosani

Topics for discussion will include:

  • How can we revamp the principles of global citizenship for young people, to counteract the risk of skepticism and trigger positive global action?
  • What are the skills needed to become a socially-conscious, impactful global citizen?
  • What are the tools and partners young people need to help them make this journey?


  • Alain Couttolenc, Chief Development Officer, Ipsos
  • Gopi Gopalakrishnan, President, World Health Partners
  • Misraim Macis Cervantes, CEO, Youth Institute Leon City Government
  • Mohammad Mansoor Akbar, Co-founder, Bridge for Afghanistan

Moderated by: Eric Dawson, CEO, Peace First

13:30-14 :30 Young People Creating Impact Toward Sustainable Development Goals, A Joint Peace First and Misk Global Forum announcement for MENA Social Entrepreneurs - Misk Pavilion @ Morosani

In this interactive session, the Misk Foundation and Peace First will share a powerful vision for how young people can help the world meet the SDGs.  Through sharing cutting-edge research, the voices of young people themselves, and an exciting announcement of our Middle East Youth Challenge, participants will leave inspired, engaged and ready to act.

Facilitated by: Eric Dawson, CEO, Peace First

7:00-8 :30 All Entrepreneurs! The Support System We Need Misk Pavilion @ Morosani

Topics for discussion will include:

  • Are you born entrepreneurial or can you acquire the right mindset and skills?
  • What work ethic should young people adopt in order to become successful entrepreneurs?
  • How can young people build a strong support network to guide them through their entrepreneurial journey?
  • How can companies and government create a supportive ecosystem to assist young entrepreneurs?


  • HE Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman and CEO, DP World
  • Tony Chan, President, KAUST
  • Varun Venugopal Gupta, Director of Sustainable Growth, Mindful Life, Mindful Work
  • Ann Rosenberg, Global Head of SAP Next Gen, SAP

Moderated by Henri Arslanian, Chairman, Fintech Association of Hong Kong

7:00-8 :30 Architects of the Future Economy: How Young People Can Shape a Better World - Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère

Topics for discussion will include:

  • How can youth get better access to employment today?
  • How to prepare young people for the future of work? What works, what doesn’t and what are the world’s best practices?
  • How can young people effectively participate in shaping a new globalization, fairer and more inclusive, where they can be change driver? What can be done to empower them further?


  • HE Nadhmi Al Nasr, CEO, Neom
  • Charles Edouard Bouée, CEO, Roland Berger
  • Alain Dehaze, CEO, Adecco
  • Eric Horwitz, Director AI Labs, Microsoft
  • Judith Williams, Chief Diversity Officer, SAP

Moderated by: Edie Lush, Executive Editor, Hub Culture

  • This month’s two-day annual gathering will bring global innovators and young participants together in identifying ways to thrive in the future economy
  • The event will explore ‘Skills for our Tomorrow’ with high-tech sub-themes such as ‘the man-machine partnership’, and human-centered concepts like ‘revamping uniquely human collaboration’, and ‘thriving as adaptable individuals’

Misk Global Forum, the flagship international platform of the Misk Foundation, has revealed more details about ‘Skills for our Tomorrow’, its main annual gathering.

Taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 14 – 15 November, the third Misk Global Forum (MGF) annual event will closely examine the attributes young people must harness and nurture in an era of uncertainty and changing opportunity. It brings together some of the world’s leading creators, innovators and thinkers with participants willing to explore, experience and experiment with ways to meet the challenge of change.

The list of speakers is currently being finalized for this year’s event, which will feature interactive workshops and sessions based on three key themes:

  • Adjusting to the Man-Machine Partnership: technology is evolving at a rapid pace, stimulating the emergence of new human-machine partnerships. How can this emerging partnership help best serve people and their potential?
  • Revamping Uniquely Human Collaboration: in this age of rapid transformation, more and more jobs are emerging that require human contact and interpersonal skills. How can we revamp human collaboration to reach new heights?
  • Thriving as Adaptable Individuals: for millennials and younger generations, the question of how to live a healthy and purposeful life is a central focus. What are the key skills needed for individuals to thrive in the future economy?

 MGF intends expanding its mission to help young people around the world realise their potential in the future, while championing active global citizenship.

By helping young people develop the skills and attributes they will need to thrive in an era of changing opportunity, MGF provides encouragement about how they can successfully build a healthy and happy life in the future economy.

We’re delighted to be participating in the only youth-focused session at the Institute for the Future’s 10-year forecast event, which is called ‘Future Skills: How Youth Chart their Own Futures.’

In partnership with the Misk Foundation, IFTF sent a dozen researchers to cities such as Lagos, Chongqing, Berlin and Austin to conduct a series of interviews to understand how young people are innovating in order to chart their own future paths.

During the session, we’ll share some of the skills and strategies researchers discovered that the young people they interviewed use to work, learn, live, and thrive.

The session will also be interactive, as participants discuss what this will look like in their own organizations, and how they can best adapt to ensure that they are equipped with the skills they’ll need in tomorrow’s world.

Find out what came of this session by following our social media channels in the coming weeks, as we unveil some of the findings of this fascinating piece of research.

We are very happy to announce that we have signed an agreement with the UN to become the first ever strategic partner for their youth work.

This truly groundbreaking partnership will create a global youth movement that will directly reach and positively impact 50 million young people over the next 12 years.

It will increase young people’s participation in UN processes and help to improve their job prospects, and build meaningful real-world networks among youth-focused partners.

The agreement was signed today (25 September 2018) at a ceremony at the UN’s headquarters in New York by representatives from the Misk Foundation and the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth (UN OSGEY ).

Delivering real impact at a truly global scale, the innovative partnership will work across three different pillars:


  • Strategic
The partnership will strengthen the ability to deliver the crucial UN Strategy on Youth, with Misk Foundation, the OSGEY, and the UN working closely together to drive action at the global, regional and national levels.


  • Initiatives

A “Youth Gateway” will be built as a central hub for knowledge on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for young people – it will map existing initiatives and outline opportunities to volunteer.

Tools will be developed to measure and track key indicators of youth development and well-being at a global scale.


  • Participation
There will be a Youth Fellowship Program, which will train and develop the young leaders of tomorrow, focusing on under-represented countries.
The partnership will help enhance how young people can participate in UN processes – for instance through an annual youth forum co-hosted with the OSGEY held during the UN General Assembly and a meeting during the High-Level Political Forum in New York.
Support will be delivered for the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, especially in the areas of digital skills and youth entrepreneurship, and we will work with the UN on initiatives to drive even greater youth contribution to the Agenda for Sustainable Development.
We plan to coordinate activities by working together on an annual International Stakeholders Meeting on Youth, which will bring together youth-led networks and organizations from around the world, including from the UN.


His Excellency Bader Alasaker, Chair of the Board, Misk Initiatives Center, said:

“The Misk Foundation is committed to helping as many young people around the world realise their potential in the future economy and to encourage active global citizenship.

“The strategic agreement that we are signing today, shows our commitment to this mission.

“Partnering with the United Nations will greatly enhance its vital work around the world to help people from all backgrounds to realise their potential and meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

This partnership is part of our established track record of partnering with UN organizations on youth issues, including hosting the UNESCO NGO Forum on “Youth and their Social Impact” in Riyadh, and bringing together young leaders at last year’s Misk-UNDP Youth Forum.


Find out more about the partnership as it develops, as well as all our other cutting-edge insight and partnerships, by joining our email list here: https://miskglobalforum.com/signup

Misk Global Forum at TED 2018 - Jason Redmond / TED

How do we give youth the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly-changing future economy?

That’s what we discussed  at TED 2018 in Vancouver, working with the Institute for the Future as we continue to grow & build connections and partnerships around the world.

We worked with the Institute for the Future to create an interactive session that sparked debate and discussion on how education and training should innovate to enable young people to thrive in a rapidly-changing future economy.

Photo: Jason Redmond / TED

Feedback from this event, along with others, will culminate in the presentation of the Institute for the Future’s findings at this year’s annual Misk Global Forum in November.

Ideas discussed at the event included:

  • The need to help young people to be comfortable with uncertainty, with experimenting and with failing;
  • The need for young people to be very self-aware to respond creatively to situations;
  • How to provide young people with the skills needed to navigate technological change in a way that mitigates negative impacts, ensures social and emotional intelligence and reduces stress;
  • The immediate need to shape the way technology affects young people and the economy rather than being reactive;
  • The skills that might emerge naturally and how young people, due to their comfort with change, might teach older generations to better navigate developments.
    Photo: Jason Redmond / TED

Dylan Hendricks, Director of the Institute for the Future’s Future 50 Program, said, “At the working lunch we’re announcing our partnership with the Misk Global Forum to develop a set of Global Future Skills for youth. We’ll be holding workshops similar to the one we held here at TED in Nigeria, Germany and Saudi Arabia in order to further our research and develop this work. It will culminate in us reporting back at the Misk Global Forum’s annual event in Riyadh in November where we’ll publish a toolkit that aims to provide young people, educational institutions, businesses and others with an accessible way to grapple with the scope and speed of change in the knowledge economy and to provide practical pathways for moving forward.”

 Photo: Jason Redmond / TED

 Lisa Choi Owens, Chief Revenue Officer and Head of Partnerships at TED, said of the event:

“TED is proud to partner with an organization that not only envisions a youth-driven future but is taking active, measurable steps to ensure that this future becomes a reality.”

Misk also continued its innovative Tomorrow’s Jobs art project during TED2018. Misk has commissioned a concept artist to create two pieces of art depicting jobs of the future, inspired by the debate during the working lunch.

Photos by Jason Redmond / TED.

Enthusiastic and optimistic response gathered from participants to Misk Global Forum

Second day of event saw Skype founder and Google chief evangelist engage crowd


The Misk Global Forum 2017 concluded today in Riyadh following two days of interactive, collaborative, and innovative discussions and workshops on ‘meeting the challenge of change’ with direct engagement by participants on the main stage, alongside inspiring figures from the worlds of technology and creativity. The Forum provided 70 keynote speeches and sessions to more than 5000 participants and 110 speakers from 75 countries.

Over the course of the two-day event, delegates, speakers, and guests from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East took part in collaborative discussions, workshops, and panels that examined some of the key issues and challenges facing young people and the world today. Together, ideas and best practices were exchanged and opportunities and solutions identified with young people steering the conversations, including members of MIT’s media lab.

Stefania Druga, 31, from Romania and a graduate student in the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab, spoke of her excitement at seeing so much change in the country and the opportunity to teach people how to program their first robot through Misk Schools.  Commenting on the Forum’s theme and Saudi Arabia as a whole, she said: “It is the first time I have visited the country and I was not expecting to see so many changes and to see how driven people are to make these changes. I believe change is a constant, so it is something we will have to learn how to do around the world. I’m hoping that Saudi Arabia with this new initiative will help pave the way and inspire many other countries and governments to do the same.”

Randi Williams, 23, from the United States and also a graduate student in the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab, said: “We came here to get to know the culture, to try our robots out in a different environment. We worked with children who had grown up their entire life here, and I’d grown up my entire life in the United States so it was interesting to see both the similarities and the differences between the way they approached the robots and the way that children in the United States would approach them.” After spending time with students from the Misk Schools, she also noted that, “these people are quite equipped to meet the challenges that change always brings, so I’m excited to see where this goes in the future.”

In addition to these collaborative discussions, those in the audience and watching online heard keynote speeches from leading global innovators such as Jonas Kjellberg, co-creator of Skype and Gopi Kallayil, chief evangelist for Google. In addition, young ‘Hidden Heroes’ took the stage, including Saudi inventor Meshal Al Harasani, and Nanxi Liu, CEO and co-founder of Enplug from the United States.

Tillmann Heidelk, 31, from Germany and the co-founder and president of Young European Leadership, said: “The Forum last year was very interesting, but the Forum this year is focused on engagement, exchange, interaction, and encouraging people to get out there and not stay on their seats in a big panel and be passive, but to really go deep – as the session says: Deep Dive – to go in Skills Garages and build robots. People can take something home and make a change with the new knowledge they gained. This is why we’re here and it’s exactly the theme of the conference – ‘meeting the challenge of change.’”

Salman Bahabri, 25, from Saudi Arabia, operations manager at the Nota Nota cosmetics start-up, spoke about the growing innovation coming from Saudi Arabia and hopes that the Forum would be a step toward reaching the wider world.  He said: “[In Saudi Arabia] we have been receiving technologies from all over the world; now we have figured out we have to export our own technology. Taking into consideration our culture, we have a lot of advantages people haven’t seen yet. So, I think MGF showed us how Saudi Arabia is going to change and how big the opportunities are to make a change and share our culture with people all over the world.”

Bi Huang, 27, a degree student from China at Harvard University’s Wharton School who has previously worked in management consulting and investment told how, on her visit to the region, “the people I talked with here, the people I interacted with, demystified Saudi for me. It made me extremely hopeful for what will happen in this region.” Drawing on one of the key themes of the Forum, she said: “The public and the private sector are working together to develop this society, to empower different groups of people, and to bring out the best sides of human kind. – just like her Royal Highness Queen Rania said on the first day.”

The Forum also saw the Misk Foundation and its subsidiaries sign a number of agreements with leading international companies on a range of initiatives aimed at providing training, experience, and opportunities to young people in Saudi Arabia. These included agreements with Siemens and Virgin Hyperloop to provide training and experience to young people in the Kingdom, in addition to Misk Foundation’s Manga Productions unveiling agreements with leading Japanese companies Square Enix, Toei Animation, and SNK to bring Saudi creativity to the world. Those attending the Forum were also treated to an exhibition of Saudi art through the Misk Art Foundation’s display of the works of Yusef Alahmad and other young artists from the Kingdom.

The conference opened with a keynote speech by Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan who spoke of the importance of “technology with a heart” which brings benefits to all. The first day also saw addresses from speakers such as Diane Greene of Google, Allen Blue of LinkedIn, and David Kenny of IBM. The government of Saudi Arabia also announced a new small and medium enterprises licence for the Kingdom to encourage entrepreneurship and foreign investment.

The Misk Global Forum was first held in 2016 and is the flagship ongoing platform of the Misk Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic foundation established by HRH Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to discover, develop and empower Saudi youth to become active participants in the knowledge economy. 

Her Majesty Queen Rania delivers keynote address at Misk Global Forum 2017

“Our priority should be employing technology to empower entire societies”

Other speakers include science and technology entrepreneurs from across the world, and political, business, and innovation leaders from Saudi Arabia.


The Misk Global Forum 2017 was launched today in Riyadh with a keynote address by Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan who discussed using technology to empower young people.

This was followed by further speeches and panel discussions by global leaders from across the spheres of science and technology, art and creativity, and politics and business, including announcements of a number of ground breaking enterprise and entrepreneurship initiatives. These included Diane Greene, Board Member of Alphabet and Vice President of Google Cloud, and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, His Excellency Abdullah A. Al-Sawahah.

In her keynote address, Her Majesty Queen Rania spoke of the vital importance of expanding the hope found at the Misk Global Forum to the world at large. Reflecting on her recent work with Rohingya refugees, Her Majesty noted that innovation was not alleviating their suffering – nor was it for many people around the world. She stated: “I believe we need to re-evaluate our motives behind acquiring technology… our priority should be employing technology to empower entire societies.” On this theme, Her Majesty concluded by calling on those present to strive to empower young people, calling them “our source of pride,” and to “provide them with opportunities to realize their potential and achieve their ambitions. Let us inspire them to feel that the future is theirs.”

Her Majesty’s speech was preceded by a speech by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), His Excellency Abdullah A. Al-Sawahah, who opened the first day of the Forum. He stated: “The only constant is change.” During his address, the minister highlighted the importance of international, regional, and domestic partnerships and collaboration to driving innovation, announcing in this context a collaborative project between MCIT, the Misk Foundation, and Mohammed bin Salman Colleges called ‘Digital Transformation Leaders’’. The Minister said: “Combining the ecosystem that the MCIT can bring through partnerships with google and other leading technology players… can accelerate and advance the entrepreneurial journey of the 30 innovative young Saudis.”

In a subsequent panel discussion with Diane Greene, Vice President of Google Cloud and board member of Alphabet, the Minister and the audience heard of the importance of introducing more digital tools to accelerate people’s understanding – not only of the world around them but also of what is possible.  Greene also highlighted the importance of following the lead of young people, saying: “When you open things up for young people they get very creative and start to dream.”

Across the rest of the first day, forum guests and delegates, in addition to those viewing online, have seen and participated in a range of speeches, panel discussions, and workshops. Among these were such leaders as Allen Blue, co-founder of LinkedIn. who looked at new ways of working and creating. He encouraged young entrepreneurs to be unafraid of challenges, stating: ““it is OK to fail a few times on your way to being successful.”

Speaking on one of the key areas of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution,’ David Kenny of IBM commented on changes to intelligence both human and artificial, noting: “every two decades or so, there’s a major shift which changes the way we think,” and that we are currently living through one of those shifts.

The Forum’s pre-event ceremony on 14th November was opened by Bill Gates who announced ‘Misk Grand Challenges’, a new partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Misk Foundation. In a panel discussion following Mr Gates’s speech, members of Saudi Arabia’s political, business, and academic communities discussed new innovations in the Kingdom. His Excellency Khalid Al Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources, noted to his compatriots and the world that, “Vision 2030 is your passport to opportunity.”

The Misk Global Forum will continue tomorrow, 16 November, for its second day and see further keynote speeches, panel discussions, and workshops by its speakers, guests, and delegates.

How do we help young people around the world meet the challenge of change? Ahead of Misk Global Forum 2017, our Secretary General Bader Al Asaker has written this important article for CNN:

Young people are facing the challenge of a disrupted employment market in every corner of the world, and these changes are happening at an unprecedented pace and scale.

The previous industrial revolutions of steam, electricity, and digitalization brought their own changes and disruptions. But the much-heralded “fourth industrial revolution” is now blurring the lines between physical, biological, and digital spheres. And unlike the other phases of change, this process of change is happening at an exponential, rather than linear, rate.

This disruption is unquestionably creating significant challenges for countries, societies and individuals. But equally, if not arguably more so, it is also creating significant opportunities. Some of these opportunities we can’t yet envisage, but it is clear that many lie in the growth of the knowledge economy, where intellectual ability and technical understanding, analytical skills and creativity are prized over more traditional capabilities such as physical labor.

Both the fourth industrial revolution and the knowledge economy are changing the professional demands put on young people. And they will continue to do so in ways both predictable and unforeseen.

These pressures and challenges are global — and so must be the solutions.

As noted by the World Economic Forum, it is predicted that two-thirds of children in the early stages of school today will gain employment in roles that don’t exist at the moment. The rise of automation will fundamentally alter almost all professions. Adaptability, creativity, an entrepreneurial mind-set and strong social skills will all be as critical as the more analytical skills traditionally demanded by science, technology and engineering professions.

The risks inherent in this process of exponential change are high. So how do we ensure our children are not left behind?

In Saudi Arabia, where well over half the population is under 30, we fully recognize that comprehensive action is imperative. We are seizing the moment to equip our young people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to not just meet these challenges, but to rise above them and excel.

By ensuring that our education system prepares its students for the modern world and that the world of work beyond school welcomes our ambitious young people — of both sexes — we are opening new avenues of life in the Kingdom for all our citizens.

And by helping to unleash the potential of young people in this way, we are ensuring that our society also develops into one that supports entrepreneurs, welcomes creativity and embraces innovation.

All this is in keeping with the vision of moderation and tolerance, opportunity and empowerment recently voiced by His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

And our program is not just domestic. We are also acting internationally because we know that global partnerships and collective action are necessary to meet the challenges that all this change will bring.

It is for this reason that we launched the Misk Global Forum in 2016 — and will hold its second event this month in Riyadh. Through this platform, we want to develop and harness a global network that can help clarify and define approaches that can assist young people in shaping their futures.

At the forum we are collaborating with emerging and established leaders, creators and thinkers to explore and experiment with ways to meet this challenge of change and empower young people across the world.

Research we have commissioned highlights the significance of the challenge: 57% of young people in 21 of the world’s leading economies across every continent are unfamiliar with the term “knowledge economy,” half fear that they are not tech-savvy, and similar percentages expressed concern over their employment prospects.

However, young people are also optimistic, excited, and open-minded about these changes. They recognize that even as some forms of work are rendered obsolete, new forms open up — particularly in the technology spheres.

They are themselves pioneering new ways of learning — making use of social media and other tools — to learn new, real-world skills beyond the classroom that prepare them for the changes ahead. And they are also driving new, more flexible ways of working that encourage a greater, healthier balance between life and work.

It is therefore incumbent on us to listen to our young people as much as guide them. They are the future of every country, and whether that future is bright or dark depends on the degree to which we can assist them in preparing to embrace and thrive in the modern world, rather than reject it and get left behind.

The Misk Global Forum is just one part of Saudi Arabia’s dedication to this future. A future where education is built to nurture critical thinkers and innovators, problem solvers and creators, and supports learning throughout an individual’s working life. Where business environments foster new ideas, and translate them to enterprises with ease, and a jobs market that provides for opportunity, flexibility, and portfolios of income generation. And, where communities and societies are sustainable, vibrant and supportive.

We are proud to welcome international thinkers and young people into our country to express ideas, collaborate together, and listen to each other. And we look forward to sharing the forum’s developments and conclusions with the global community.

In doing so, we hope to develop a global plan to bring all these strands together, helping all young people around the world in meeting the challenge of change.

Originally posted on CNN.com, 13th November 2017.

 The Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz “Misk” Foundation organizes the second session of Misk Global Forum under the theme of “Meeting the Challenge of Change” in November 15-17, 2017 in Riyadh. Many distinguished entrepreneurs and business leaders around the world are participating in the Forum, including Bill Gates, the Co-chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Jonas Kjellberg, the Co-creator of Skype, and Allen Blue, the Co-founder of LinkedIn. The Forum also welcomes leaders from the world’s leading tech companies, such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, GE, and Intel.

Speakers of Misk Global Forum also include Matteo Renzi, Former Prime Minister of Italy, Sal Khan, Founder & CEO of Khan Academy, Adam Aron, CEO and President of AMC Entertainment, and Yosuke Matsuda, President & Representative Director of Square Enix Holdings Co.

Shaima Hamidaddin, Misk Global Forum Program Lead, commented, “Our main goal is to empower youth. In this year’s session, we focused on selecting a critical and significant topic to influence youth and help them meet the current challenge of change, so they can achieve their objectives in the future. In addition to hosting an elite group of speakers, the Forum also offers a unique opportunity for young leaders, inventors, and creators to interact with renowned global leaders and inventors. Throughout the interactive sessions, youth from all over the world can discover, experience and experiment new concepts and insights to meet the challenge of change.”

The Forum’s program includes diverse sessions covering four main aspects: living, learning, working and contributing. The Forum presents an in-depth look into a range of important topics, including the impact of artificial intelligence on jobs in the future, how to empower youth to develop and execute new creative projects, means to reserve our environment, fostering learning for life, women empowerment, new ways of contributing, and a thorough look into space industry.

Provided by academic experts from the most influential institutions such as MIT, workshops are also offered for the Forum’s attendees to gain new skills and deep knowledge in youth development. To find out more about Misk Global Forum, please visit http://miskglobalforum.com

We are delighted to welcome Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan as one of our speakers at this year’s Misk Global Forum.

Internationally, Her Majesty Queen Rania is an advocate for tolerance, compassion and dialogue between people of all cultures and backgrounds. Her efforts to simultaneously challenge stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims, and promote greater understanding and acceptance between people of all faiths and cultures, have won her global recognition.

She is committed locally to breathing new life into the public education system, empowering communities and women especially through microfinance initiatives, protecting children and families, and driving innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, especially amongst young people.

Her passion is education. She believes that all children should have access to quality education and not only to stimulating classrooms and modern curricula, but inspiring teachers and technology that can connect them to the world. She has advocated access to education in forums and gatherings internationally, with her work and efforts to improve the learning opportunities for children being recognised at the highest levels.

In addition to Her Majesty Queen Rania, we have many other world-class speakers at the conference including international educator Sal Khan, LinkedIn co-founder Allen Blue and former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. We look forward to being inspired by their work.