Wathba, the joint initiative by Sharjah Capability Development (Tatweer) and social entrepreneur Ally Salama-led EMPWR, is a landmark in the MENA region, bearing the promise of an inclusive support system for youth empowerment and mental wellbeing.
The Government-led Sharjah Capability Development (Tatweer) and ‘Forbes 30 Under 30’-famed Ally Salama’s EMPWR have signed an agreement to launch Wathba, a year-long mental wellbeing and leadership development program focused on youth. Tatweer contributes to the progress and sustainable development of the Emirate of Sharjah by empowering the youth. Its progressive, big-picture vision has found a proponent in youth icon Ally Salama who, through his organization EMPWR, has been at the forefront of mental wellbeing advocacy in the MENA region. The initiative, Wathba, will officially kick off on January 23rd, 2022, commencing Tatweer and EMPWR’s twelve-month agreement.
The joint initiative will include 12 wellness workshops of one-hour duration each, accessible to youth aged between 18-31 from corporates, universities, schools, and government institutions in the MENA region. The one-on-one program will offer safe spaces for discussions and opportunities for personalized learning. Wathba will choose a yearly cohort of 30 dynamic individuals and provide all-encompassing training, empowering them to become the best version of themselves.
The wellbeing program will be accessible across the MENA region, starting with the UAE, Egypt, Qatar, and the KSA. In the first edition, EMPWR will be supported by FloraMind, a U.S.-based youth mental health organization led by Forbes 1000 honoree and World Economic Forum speaker, Mahmoud Khedr. FloraMind and EMPWR have a region-wide partnership, which enables the implementation of their culturally-relevant and clinically-approved curriculum.
“Tatweer has been invested in the power of the youth. We believe it’s our utmost responsibility to ensure that youth have access to support networks, resources, and an environment conducive to learning. With Wathba, we aim to do this at scale, unlocking the potential of youth across the MENA region. We are glad to be partnering with Ally Salama-led EMPWR, whose advocacy for mental wellbeing and youth empowerment in the region has been revolutionary,” said Khalid Al Nakhi, Acting Director of Sharjah Capability Development (Tatweer).
Tatweer’s decision to launch a joint initiative draws upon EMPWR’s pioneering stature in the mental wellbeing space. EMPWR has the distinction of launching the region’s first mental health magazine, besides creating a well-moderated and anonymous social platform tailored to an Arabic audience. It has invested years of consistent efforts, resources, and knowledge into a portfolio of mental wellbeing courses, workshops, motivational keynotes, support services like art therapy, and knowledge-based podcasts.
EMPWR’s ‘Empathy Always Wins’ podcast hosts people to share their stories with the community, empowering them to find acceptance without the fear of being judged or shamed. As part of its drive to reach more people and raise greater awareness, EMPWR is working on a mobile app while enhancing its podcasting network. Key stakeholders, including government-led bodies like Tatweer, are working with EMPWR in different capacities to achieve the shared goal of a vibrant, youth-powered MENA.
“Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. So, their wellbeing and empowerment take precedence in the transitional and tumultuous time that the world is currently in. The partnership with a visionary like Tatweer is an ultimate validation of EMPWR’s impact in the region. We will build on the promise of Wathba, partner with more top-tier institutions and governing bodies, and strive for the sustainable development and wellbeing of youth in the MENA,” said Ally Salama, Founder of EMPWR.
A social entrepreneur, motivational speaker and ex-pro athlete, Ally Salama is a name that is synonymous with advocacy for mental wellbeing in the region. His work through EMPWR, the ‘Empathy Always Wins’ podcast, and related activism saw him feature in Forbes 30 under 30. Ally has drawn attention to taboo subjects and stigmas, stimulating discussions around them — all while building an accessible brand with an impact strategy rather than a business with an exit strategy. As a result, the synergy between Tatweer and EMPWR has made waves in the region, which has massive untapped youth potential.