On 14 December 2016, a delegation of 60 youth from the Arab Gulf met with Italian counterparts in Rome to engage in a far-ranging intercultural dialogue. The event involved a number of high-level institutional speakers from Italy and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), followed by an exchange of success stories and best practices in the entrepreneurial, high-tech and information & communication sectors.
Organized by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) in cooperation with the GCC Secretariat and under the patronage of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI), the meeting coincided with a visit to Italy of a delegation of youth drawn from the six countries of the GCC. As the first event of its kind to take place in Italy, the event, entitled ‘Youth and Intercultural Dialogue: Italian and GCC Voices’, aimed to promote dialogue and understanding between Europe and the Arab world in general and Italian and GCC youth in particular.
Held at the Foreign Ministry’s Sala delle Conferenze Internazionali, opening remarks were delivered by Elisabetta Belloni, Secretary General of MAECI, who highlighted Italy’s strong interest in strengthening relationships with the Arab Gulf. Keynote speeches by Nathalie Tocci, IAI Deputy Director and Special Advisor to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, and Waleed Farhan Al Farhan, Director of the Youth Department at the GCC Secretariat, engaged participants with a series of comparative reflections on European and Arab youth. Both speakers noted that youth stand at the forefront of many of the most pressing social, economic and political problems in both regions and that there are more similarities than differences uniting youth in Europe and the Arab world.
Technology and digital devices are enhancing a sense of belonging to a kind of ‘common youth culture’ that transcends borders and cultural differences. In this context, two examples of young and successful Italian entrepreneurs were invited to outline their personal experience. Antonio De Mitri, Partnerships Manager at Mind the Bridge, an organization promoting entrepreneurship education for start-ups, enterprises and investors, outlined the role and challenges of working for a global organization dedicated to building technological partnerships in different regions. Marco Bologna, from Leeloo Srl., a company providing communication and information services in different public and private sectors, introduced Leeloo’s multimedia and digital products ranging from media and information services to products targeting the healthcare sector and customer knowledge.
The meeting resulted in a lively and constructive debate between participants and the delegations of Italian and GCC youth. The organizers wish to thank the Embassy of the State of Kuwait in Rome for its sponsorship of the event and hope the meeting may lead to new fruitful exchanges between European and Arab youth as a means to overcome stereotypes and foster increased knowledge and understanding between regions and cultures.