An open letter to Saudi millennials
I want to start this letter by asking you a question: How do you see yourself impacting the world, and our country, with a positive change that starts within you?
It was International Youth Day this week, a time to celebrate the largest ever youth population in the history of the world, as people aged 15 to 35 make up 18 percent of the global population.
Our generation, especially in Saudi Arabia, is a generation that has dreamers picturing a greater tomorrow, storytellers sharing our present’s milestones with the world, and leaders who are proudly serving their institutions, companies, or foundations, and our country toward the development and empowerment of not only youth, but ensuring we are inclusive in all the positive work we do, and that everyone is represented.
We all have our own dreams and aspirations — dreams that wake us up early in the morning, and that push us to be more, and do more. We are our own stories and what you do ends up impacting our community as a whole. So, where do we start? How can we benefit those around us in the way we work and live each day? Focus on your local efforts. Your local impact affects everyone around you, and is reflected at a global level eventually. What you do at your school, university, company, institution, or anywhere else where you find yourself working toward a national and regional goal. When focusing on doing your best at what you are good at, then your success will have a greater impact, and its effects will have a great role in bridging your community, and Saudi Arabia as a whole, to the world in cross-cultural communications and relations.
There is a multiplier effect in the good that you do, and the people in your circle are influenced by the knowledge you share with them. That is why your local footprint could be developed into a global one.
Discover your passions. Get out of your comfort zone and discover something new about yourself. Travel somewhere new. Climb a new summit. Hike a trail. Do whatever feels right in your heart, and what would take you to a new level based on your own standard.
All of these examples could be hypothetical, too, if you think about it.
That trip is an adventure to learn more about yourself. That summit is a challenge you have always wanted to conquer, that trail is the journey that takes you from one starting point to another. We live in a country that is opening new doors for us to enter, and giving us new mountains to climb, so go and start your own journey by discovering your passions.
International Youth Day may be a one-day celebration focusing on millennials around the world and the many opportunities they have, but I would like to highlight something different in Saudi Arabia.
Look around you. We live in a country that celebrates young people every day. The empowerment of young people can not only be a practice that is done and then calculated, it is a lifestyle that is lived and embedded in the culture in which young people are the drivers of development through their spirit of commitment and love for our homeland.
I asked a few friends what they would include in this letter. Here is what they said: “To all young Saudis, during this month where the world is celebrating you, remember the following: Be ambitious. It is OK to make mistakes. Learn from them and grow from them. Never compare yourself to others. Embrace the best of your qualities and head with confidence when doing the right thing. Do not heed what others say, stride confidently when contributing to a noble cause with your heart into it, and your mind racing for ideas to better the world. Seize every opportunity and be confident, because every summit has room for everyone climbing to reach it. Follow your dreams and busy yourself with your passion. Our leadership has put a lot of trust in you, and you have all earned it. But the road is still long, and you are all capable of accomplishments that result in developing our country.”
The United Nations is celebrating young people throughout August under #31DaysOfYOUth. This open letter is a reminder to all of you that you are the story, you are the journey, and you are all destined to reach your own personal summits once you commit to your dreams, and work to make them a reality that develops you and influences many around you.
• Razan Farhan Alaqil is a political science, international comparative politics and global studies graduate. She is a Saudi youth representative at the UN, and a board member of the Saudi Federation of Mass Participation.