President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and the first lady arrived at the venue of the opening ceremony of the World Youth Forum’s (WYF) fourth edition, currently held in the resort city of Sharm El Sheikh.
Held under the slogan ‘Back Together,’ the forum, running until 13 January, will host a galaxy of youth from 196 African, European, Asian, North American and Latin American countries.
The opening ceremony started with a presentation by Sara Badr, a spokesperson for the forum, who welcomed the guests amid a joyous atmosphere. Youth from all over the globe have accepted the invitation of their Egyptian counterparts to voice their opinions and come up with initiatives and proposals in the presence of an elite group of world leaders and influential figures. Through the forum, Egypt will send a message of peace, security and prosperity to the entire world.
One of the forum robots welcomed President El-Sisi, distinguished world leaders, and young people from all continents. The robot also expressed that it was glad it will be present throughout the forum.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivered a virtual speech at the opening ceremony, in which he urged the young people to suggest new ideas and come up with solutions to build the future of the world. He also called on world leaders to listen to the youth.
Guterres went on to say that the COVID-19 crisis has strongly affected young people psychologically, but at the same time the youth were able to support each other in rebuilding and getting out of this pandemic stronger to build a better future. He said that the youth participating in this year’s edition can play a role in building this promising future. Guterres concluded his speech by affirming that young people have unlimited innovative ideas and solutions.
Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized that the WHO spares no effort to support the young people, who should be an integral part of the global system. He expressed hope that the year 2022 will see an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, President of the World Bank Group David Malpass started his virtual speech by extending thanks to the organizers of the forum, affirming that the world faces various challenges that young people can play an important role in dealing with, especially eradicating poverty and promoting development. He pointed out that the pandemic has had a negative impact on job opportunities, social inclusion, and education, adding that the world had incurred losses estimated at $70 trillion in global GDP due to the pathogen.
Malpass concluded his speech by stressing that the labor market needs to be empowered in order to provide sustainable jobs and strengthen the employment environment, in addition to activating inclusiveness and resilience in fragile environments. He further called for enabling the green economy, which he said could provide many job opportunities for the youth. He pointed out that the Middle East region is the most resource-scarce region in the world, which makes it necessary to continue working on building resilience for the region to remain at the forefront.
The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake began her speech by expressing pleasure that she joined the world youth in their message to spread peace, love, and harmony. She pointed out that the crises of COVID-19 and climate change remind us of the necessity of working together to achieve development and overcome crises with the help of young people to shape a better future. At the end of her speech, Wickramanayake stressed the importance of making recommendations on how to work together through solidarity with the younger generations. Furthermore, she emphasized that young people are the best to face challenges at the current phase, expressing hope that the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals will be attained.
During the opening ceremony, a documentary was screened depicting everyday life in the few years before the pandemic. But after the COVID-19 virus struck the entire globe, the word “positive” became the world’s most negative word. The documentary shed light on efforts exerted by the World Health Organization and governments to control the situation. “Amid the new waves of the virus, the world is vacillating between opening and closing as the pandemic has not come to an end yet,” according to the documentary. Finally, the documentary encourages us to keep up our spirits, maintain our normal daily life, and continue smiling and being positive.
Later on, the two artists Maryam Al Khosht and Rana Raeis and journalist Ahmed Salama gave a welcoming speech, in which they said that humanity had entered into a cycle of conflicts and wars. They expressed fears that these conflicts would return after the end of the pandemic. Therefore, they called on the world youth to avoid this scenario and maintain peace and love.
The trio’s speech was followed by an imaginary presentation by late German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, who recommended that humanity learn lessons from the past and not repeat its mistakes, while influential Islamic historian Ibn Rushd denounced successive wars. For her part, Mother Teresa affirmed the need to keep the voice of wisdom and the exchange of love above anything else.
Meanwhile, Spanish actress and star of the famous TV series La Casa de Papel Itziar Ituño expressed her pleasure to be attending the forum among these young people from various countries. She indicated that this is the second time for her to visit Egypt since 1998. She lauded Egypt as a land with an unbelievable historic heritage. Furthermore, she conveyed the greetings of her colleagues from the TV series. “The TV series, which was behind my fame, has been successful because of you,” she said.
Later on, a presentation was given about the previous editions of the forum held in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Then, another presentation titled ‘Back Together’ was screened, and the forum’s song “And here we are now” was sung by seven young people of different nationalities. At the end of the opening ceremony, President El-Sisi delivered a speech where he welcomed the world youth to the fourth edition of the forum. The president described the forum as a platform for dialogue and communication among youth and a tool for exchanging visions, especially during this difficult time in human history, which requires us to acknowledge the importance of dialogue to manage our differences.
The president stressed that we must be certain that it is the God’s will for people to have differences without facing any discrimination. He stressed that humanity can only overcome the current challenges and crises by having sincere intentions to put an end to conflicts and work together for humanity and peace. The president concluded his speech by saying: “I’m honored to announce the launch of the fourth edition of the World Youth Forum in the presence of this unique crowd. For the good we gather, in the name of God we commence, and for the future we work.”