Najla Al Midfa on Empowering Emirati Youth

najla-al-midfaHarnessing the talents and entrepreneurial spirit of Emirati youth, Najla Al Midfa, General Manager of Sheraa– Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre–speaks to HEALTH about her organization Khayarat and how college graduates can reach their highest potential.

“My experience in the private sector helped me gain a better understanding of the skills required to succeed within it, and gave me a better sense of the expectations of private sector employers when hiring young talent. On the other hand, my experience at Khalifa Fund provided me with the opportunity to interact with young Emiratis.

It was through these interactions that I was able to better understand their dreams and ambitions, the expectations of Emirati graduates, and the areas in which they needed career support. Armed with this information, I was able to bridge the two sides through Khayarat.”

“It was during my time at the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise and Development that I realized how much I enjoy helping individuals fulfill their potential. As I was mentoring these young, passionate Emiratis, I noted that they were not aware of the opportunities available to them in the private sector. This insight planted the seed for Khayarat (Arabic for ‘Options’), which has inspired over 100 young Emirati graduates to raise their ambitions and understand their career options, and has enabled them to jumpstart their careers with leading employers in the private sector.”


“Mentoring is just one piece of the Khayarat offering. We think of ourselves as the student’s partner as they transition from college to career. We are with them every step of the way, helping them explore their passions, build the relevant skillsets, and empowering them to find jobs that they love and find fulfilling.”

“I applaud the massive strides Emirati women are making towards fulfilling their own potential, as well as the efforts of the government to support them. It is especially awe-inspiring to see the empowerment of the younger generation. They grow up believing they can achieve anything, and so they do. I look forward to seeing how our country will progress under their influence.”

“Sacrificing one’s health in service of a cause is a common trap that social change activists fall into, and I am keenly aware of the self-care required to avoid burnout. As such, I am disciplined about fitness, especially boxing. I’m also an avid climber, and have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mount Toubkal in Morocco. I’ve also trekked through Bhutan and Mount Everest Base Camp.”

“One thing I have noticed about most college graduates is that while they may possess the ‘hard’ skills in their field, their ‘soft’ skills are often lacking. Three vital skills every graduate should develop are confidence, adaptability, and communication. Also, being confident does not mean being arrogant or overly aggressive, but rather that you know your strengths and believe in your abilities. You must also have the flexibility to work tasks that may not directly relate to your degree, and – paradoxically enough – get comfortable with being outside your comfort zone. Finally, you must be able to communicate these and your other qualities to your employer. You could be the perfect candidate, but if you do not know how to speak to your strengths, or to communicate with your employer on a regular day-to-day basis, then they will never know it.”

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