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The Counselling Arabia Conference: Recognizing the Needs of Arab Youth in Today’s Modern World

by Jessica Lawrence

A client’s culture, traditions and religion are major factors affecting their lives and the choices they make. Counsellors must understand these elements in their client’s lives in order to provide effective counselling. Misunderstanding any element may mean missing the chance to effectively support the client.

When counselling Arab youth, consideration must be given to their religion and traditions and how these things shape their lives. In today’s modern world living a contemporary life while adhering to traditions may be quite difficult.

The Counselling Arabia Conference, presented in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, this year, strives to inform counselling professionals on issues faced by Arab youth and best practices in working with this population. Held under the esteemed patronage of HH Sheikh Nahayan Mubarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology of Egypt, the conference brings together professionals who occupy key positions in private and public sector organizations to discuss, network and develop their respective professions with the goal of evolving counselling practices for Arab youth.

Each year the Counselling Arabia Conference brings together hundreds of participants from across Arabia, and indeed the world, working in the fields of counselling, human resources, training, coaching and career development. Now in its 9th year, Counselling Arabia provides professional seminars that address all areas of diversity including cultural, gender, special needs, age, race, ethnicity and spirituality.

Recent conference presentations have included subjects such as,

  • adapting international models to work effectively with Arab youth,
  • addiction treatment and its connection to spirituality and religion,
  • theoretical constructs appropriate for the Arab World,
  • cross-cultural counselling,
  • assessment tools and techniques for the Gulf region,
  • innovations in practice, and
  • professional development.

Counselling Arabia’s continuing aims are to work with practitioners and institutions to promote excellence and innovation, equality of opportunity and continuous quality improvement in counselling throughout the Gulf Region. This event provides an opportunity to develop and foster national, regional and international networks and partnerships, and to take a professional lead in creating, promoting and maintaining appropriate policies and strategies that develop best practices in counselling. Research and the promotion of research in counselling and career guidance to develop materials and techniques for the local context is particularly important as there is a great need for such resources.

Counselling Arabia 2011

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Youth at the Crossroads’ and will focus on issues today’s Arab youth encounter in the modern world. Counselling Arabia 2011 will bring practitioners together to discuss and explore best practices in counselling because the problems facing Arab youth can be quite complex and difficult to navigate for those in the human services field. Presentations will include topics such as|

  • students in transition,
  • ‘Arabizing’ the counselling profession,
  • the unemployed young, and
  • substance abuse.

The keynote speakers are Mr. Rami G. Khoury, Director of Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut and Dr. Mona Al Bahar from the Dubai Women and Children’s Foundation in the UAE. Mr. Rami will speak on ‘Bridging the Generation Gap’ and Dr. Mona will be speaking on the ‘Formation of Gender Identity in an Age of Globalization’. Counselling Arabia 2011 looks to be an interesting and practical educational experience for those working with Arab youth and for all cross-cultural counsellors.

For more information on Counselling Arabia 2011, please visit

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