Dubai girl in Queen's panel of inspiring people
Saima Khan is the first-ever Dubai girl among the selected 120 young leaders out of 4,000 candidates
In order to leave a lasting legacy for Queen Elizabeth, the Queen's Young Leaders' panel launches a search every year, to find exceptional and inspiring people in the age group of 18-29 across the Commonwealth countries of the world.
However, making an exception for the first time, the programme that is now in its fourth and final year, selected Dubai-based Indian student Saima Khan, 20, who is studying Business Administration in Heriot Watt University.
It is mandatory that all applicants are citizens of and working and residing in a Commonwealth country or citizens of an Overseas Territory (of a Commonwealth member). However, Saima was an Indian (from a commonwealth country) but not residing in a commonwealth country. But it was her work as a teenager living in Dubai, yet executing projects in developing countries that impressed the panel.
The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, in partnership with Comic Relief and the Royal Commonwealth Society, has established The Queen's Young Leaders Programme in honour of the Queen's 60 years of service to the Commonwealth. The programme that was launched in 2014 is concluding this year and has formed a unique community of 240 influential change-makers, who represent 53 Commonwealth countries.
Saima has become the first-ever Dubai girl among the selected 120 young leaders out of 4,000 candidates. She was selected in the Highly Commended Runner Up category.
Under the programme, Saima will be receiving training and online mentoring to launch more social initiatives. She will also work with other Young Leaders' panel to learn about their projects and collaborate and execute new initiatives.
Giving credit to the UAE, Saima said: "The UAE has a major role to play in terms of supporting me. It was extremely hard for me as a 16-year-old (when I started) to even get an opportunity to volunteer. I used to sign up for 8-12 events in a year and got rejected for almost seven of them because of my age and that annoyed me. For me, it was about justice - if I'm being educated every child deserves education, if I'm getting food on my plate so does everyone else. This mentality was developed in the UAE, the land of opportunities and justice for all. When I wanted to get my youth group Step Up licensed, the Community Development Authority was very supportive of it and provided me with the much-needed assistance and guidance."
Activities by the 'Dubai' girl
Dubai-based Indian student Saima Khan, 20, has helped transform young people's lives by working with them to find creative solutions to challenges they face. She is the founder of Step Up, which provides a platform for young people around the world to work together to achieve the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. The group organises activities such as tree planting, recycling drives, beach clean-ups, and events for adults and children with special needs.
Saima is also the brand ambassador for the Protect Your Mom Campaign, which has encouraged over 90 schools from around the world to run breast cancer awareness campaigns. In addition, she launched the Thirst Relief project with PennyAppeal in the United Kingdom to build wells in countries including Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
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