Yemen’s Hikma Fellows & Gulf Counterparts Convene in Cordoba
July 12, 2021 – The members of the Hikma Fellowship gathered in Spain with emerging leaders from across the region for the Forum of Emerging Leaders from Yemen and the Gulf. Convened by DeepRoot Consulting with the support of the European Union, the event was hosted at Casa Árabe in Cordoba, Spain in partnership with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The event, which took place between June 2 to 8, began with a dialogue workshop between Yemeni emerging leaders aimed at reaching common ground on a number of critical issues. Then, joined by counterparts from the Gulf countries, the discussions turned toward identifying and exploring areas for enhanced collaboration between Yemen and the Gulf countries. Nearly two-dozen young leaders from Yemen and the Gulf attended the event in Cordoba, with additional participants and international guests joining remotely.
EU Ambassador to Yemen Hans Grundberg, joining remotely, welcomed the attendees and spoke of the need for improved cooperation, especially between youth of diverse backgrounds. Reflecting on the European Union’s own experience reaching a shared vision for its future, Ambassador Hans posed a question that would serve as a recurring theme throughout the event: Do you see yourselves in the “other”?
Against the backdrop of increasing political polarization, youth from non-aligned groups are rarely afforded spaces for the exchange of ideas and views that cut across party or ideological lines. Countering this trend, the event sought to carve out a unique space for open dialogue on the future of Yemen and its relation with the Gulf.
The Hikma Fellows worked on addressing several key topics of priority in Yemen, including jointly reflecting on and assessing the UN-led peace process in Yemen. They reached clear recommendations on how the process can be reformed to be made more effective in the coming period, which they will share with their respective political and social networks, in addition to the key international supporters of the peace process.
The ongoing conflict in Yemen has made the bonds that link Yemen with the countries of the Gulf all the more important, as efforts to achieve peace in Yemen cannot be extricated from the broader geopolitical realities in the region. In the Forum of Emerging Leaders from Yemen and the Gulf, the attendees worked toward a common vision on a range of issues related to peace, security, and economic development. In particular, they explored areas of regional cooperation, which included the environment and climate change.
Attendees were briefed on the latest developments in the region by Dr. Ghanem Al-Najjar, who co-convened the first Forum of Emerging Leaders in Kuwait City in 2019. The discussions in Spain built on the progress reached by the pilot forum, which aimed to enhance experience-sharing between Yemeni youth and their Gulf neighbours.
During their time in Spain, the emerging leaders from Yemen and the Gulf also met with aspiring young Spanish entrepreneurs. Held at the Tres Cultures Foundation in Seville, in partnership with Andalucía Emprendre and Andalucía Acción Exterior, the meeting provided a unique platform for learning and exchanging novel ideas.
About the Hikma Fellowship Program
The inaugural cohort of the Hikma Fellowship for Public Leaders was launched in July 2020. The one-year program brings together 15 of the top leaders under 40 from Yemen’s major political parties and movements, in addition to independents. The program consists of advanced leadership training delivered by international experts, discussions with renowned peacemakers and authorities, and facilitated dialogue on critical issues of importance to youth.
The program aims to build bridges between youth from divergent parties and backgrounds and equip them with the skills and knowledge to lead with integrity in the public sphere. Through the Hikma Platform, the program is designed to bring a much broader array of Yemeni men and women into public discourse, and share outputs and information relevant to the peace process and other topics relevant to youth.
Both the Hikma Fellowship and the Forum of Emerging Leaders come as part of a broader initiative led by DeepRoot and supported through the European Union Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP). The 18-month initiative, A New Generation of Public Leaders in Yemen, is structured to strengthen the role of youth in decision making processes and peacemaking efforts at the governorate, national and regional levels.
DeepRoot is a leading social enterprise working on advancing inclusive, sustainable solutions to a range of political, economic, and developmental issues in Yemen. DeepRoot has extensive experience in providing platforms for dialogue on peacebuilding, producing in-depth reports and expanding stakeholder understanding of the local dynamics in different areas of the country. DeepRoot has implemented multiple track II initiatives in direct and indirect support of the Office of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen’s efforts to negotiate a political settlement to the conflict