The Misk Global Forum (#MGF23), the region’s largest youth forum, recently concluded its seventh edition.
The event convened 40,000 attendees from 59 countries and featured a global line-up of more than 120 speakers, leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs across more than 150 sessions and hosted more than 50 online and in-person workshops.
Held over three days from November 15-17 at Bujairi Terrace in Diriyah, overlooking UNESCO World Heritage Site At-Turaif, #MGF23, the event carried the theme ‘The Big Now.’
Dr. Badr Al-Badr, CEO of the Misk Foundation, noted that since its inception, the event has now welcomed nearly 800 speakers and over 100,000 attendees across six editions.
Emphasising this year’s theme, “The Big Now”, Dr. Al-Badr said: “To think big, silence self-doubt, assess beliefs, and act. Beware of hindering circles; embrace positivity for momentum.”
He praised the youth’s empowerment and initiative, highlighting their role in shaping a positive future. Dr. Al-Badr encouraged youth to adopt a proactive ‘Think Big, Act Now’ approach to actively shape a more inclusive future where “all young people can thrive.”
Attendees at the Misk Global Forum experienced more than 14 unique activations, delivering 434 hours of learning with 80 workshops to more than 1,000 attendees centred around ‘The Big Now’.
The stage set the platform for global speakers to outline the challenges and solutions facing youth in today’s interconnected world.
The Leaders Diwan provided a hub for in-depth dialogues with senior leaders and decision-makers, while the Majlis hosted a relaxed setting that facilitated discussions between today’s brightest minds and innovators.
The Skills Dukkan held collaborative workshops run by world-class partners, including National Geographic, Metaverse Academy, LinkedIn, Apple Academy, and Adidas, enabling participants to learn new skills.
The Wellness Waha also provided a range of meditative and therapeutic activities that focused on physical and mental well-being.
Meanwhile, The Tank welcomed aspiring entrepreneurs to a space to engage and develop entrepreneurial mindsets.
Finally, The Classroom showcased what the learning environment of the future could and should look like, leveraging the latest technologies to enhance the educational experience.
The forum featured an array of global speakers, including the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner and former Real Madrid football player Karim Benzema. From the business world, Robert Herjavec, CEO of Cyderes and Herjavec Ventures and Executive Producer at Shark Tank, emphasised the importance of thinking big to capture transformative investments, noting that “Opportunities flow to great ideas, not regions. That old bias is disappearing. People are more invested in the power of ideas.”
Also taking the stage at #MGF23, was Chris Gardner, author of the best-selling book-turned-Hollywood film The Pursuit of Happyness, who told audiences that Saudi youth have a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to capture the promise of the country’s socioeconomic transformation, where “unlimited capital meets unlimited imagination.”
H.R.H Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman AlSaud, Minister of Energy, said: “My advice to young people is for them to focus on something they excel at. Find your passion and what you want to do. If you find your passion, it will be a propeller for you to do everything else.”
H.E. Bandar Alkhorayef, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, said: “Transformation begins with a will, a clear mindset and a strong belief that one is able to achieve what they want, followed by a clear action plan with objectives.”
In a dialogue on financial literacy and investment, Mohammed El-Kuwaiz, Chairman of the Capital Market Authority (CMA), advised the youth on capital management, telling the audience of young entrepreneurs: “Have a clear investment plan in something you understand, study profit and risk, diversify, and start early,” he said.
Discussing the evolving educational landscape, Her Excellency Rawan Bint Najeeb Tawfiqi, Minister of Youth Affairs, Bahrain, spoke about the importance of adapting to change in learning. “Today’s learning extends beyond classrooms, encompassing diverse experiences and embracing differences. It’s about acknowledging and adapting to change,” she said.
Highlighting Saudi Arabia’s focus on space exploration, Rayyanah Barnawi, an astronaut at the Saudi Space Agency, discussed the multifaceted nature of astronaut selection. She explained: “Our mission involved exploring and experimenting in medicine, biology, physics, and outreach with kids. Teamwork and mutual support were crucial to our success.”
Sharing his insights on the core qualities of effective leadership, Deputy CEO of the Misk Foundation, Omar Najjar, said: “The essence of leadership isn’t business acumen or strategic plans. It’s in the bedrock of its value system.”
The Forum also saw the launch of “UFO Robot Grendizer: The Feast of the Wolves,” a collaborative video game project between French video gaming company Microids and Misk Foundation’s Manga Productions.
Commenting on the launch, Yves Bléhaut, SVP of Strategic Partnerships at Microids, said: “Together, games and animation can turn synergy into strategy. We are building a strategy for the Kingdom, and Manga Productions is our key partner in this journey.”
In addition, the MISK Art Institute hosted the Misk Art Competition, which saw a range of art pieces submitted from artists around the world.
Mohannad Bahari secured the top spot in the competition, a result which was determined by tens of thousands of public votes cast during the Forum.
Concluding the 2023 Misk Global Forum on The Stage, Mashael AlZoghaibi, Global Director, Misk Foundation, said: “The Big Now is more than just a catchy phrase. It has been our guiding star throughout the event. It’s our call to everyone to dream, innovate and dare. But more than that, as well. It’s our call for all of you to take action because dreams – however big they are – stay dreams unless they become actions.”