The role of philanthropy in Saudi Arabia has grown since the announcement it is one of the key pillars of Saudi Vision 2030. As a result, the Kingdom is hosting huge global forums such as MISK, and just recently the King Salman Youth Center in Riyadh held an international event for Saudi scholarship students studying in 12 different countries around the world to encourage volunteering.
Speaking to Arabia Now about why the King Salman Youth Center held this event on World Volunteer Day, Executive Director Mohammed Asiri said, “Based on the center’s main incentives, the competition implements a normal and very integrated aspect of our society which is the gift of giving. It highlights the students’ abilities when it comes to matters of volunteering experiences and honing in on this ability, integrating with societies, giving them room for creativity and allowing them to perform as they see fit.”
The King Salman Youth Center was founded to support and inspire the youth to build professional leaders and successful entrepreneurs. It also wants to establish a platform to connect youth with officials and organizations. Its website says its goals are, “Establishing and entrenching the concept of excellence and consolidation of entrepreneurship among the youth, and contributing to build a creative generation of future leaders who will continue achieving progression and prosperity for the country.”
This event certainly put young Saudi volunteers on the global map to their fellow student peers around the world. Participants included students from Kingdom studying in countries including Australia, China, South Korea, Scotland, Hungry and the United States. Each of them have named their philanthropic intatives in their respective host countries with names such as, “Saudi Youth Vision Team,” “We Care,” “Giving,” and “Us to US.”
Zohoor Asiri was a “We Give,” program committee member and coordinator of the event. A qualified Saudi medical doctor, Zohoor has also has volunteered with refugee issues in Europe. She told Arabia Now, “I can’t specifically tell you of one volunteer, they each have a story. While some had experience in volunteering before, many were trying it out for the first time. The feedback we received from them was that these first timers were not only excited to participate, but they also vowed to continue on with providing as much time as they can volunteering, it truly does change your mindset to become a better and more giving individual in a society and looking always to make positive social impact wherever and whenever you are.”
The event, in partnership with the Scholarship Agency of the Ministry of Education, gave the students 22 different volunteer projects. Nearly 40% of those who participated said they chose to do so so they could show Saudi Arabia to others in the best possible way.
The King Salman Youth Center event shone a huge spotlight on the diversity of the student volunteer programs in Europe, Asia and the United States. The Executive Director of the King Salman Youth Center, Mohammed Asiri went on to tell Arabia Now, “Once you establish and empower the concept of volunteerism and provide the right platform for them to exercise it, philanthropy and volunteerism will go hand in hand. The approach is to build and deepen relationships between individuals and their community to give and advocate for volunteerism, creating and sustaining opportunities that result in finding proper solutions and will lead to a bigger impact when students transferring experiences and social know-how to Saudi communities.”
If this recent initiative at the King Salman Youth Center is any inspiration, then certainly Saudi Arabia’s philanthropic endeavors will provide hope to numerous communities in the Kingdom and elsewhere around the world.