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08 November 2023

Connecting and empowering students: Zaineh, Sima and the Youth Visionaries Association

Giulia Pession

What values drive the world? What are the ideas that bring about change? According to two King’s students, Zaineh Abed Alhameed and Sima Sinno, the answer is easy: ‘Humility, resilience, and leadership’. That is the motto of their newly-founded Youth Visionaries Association, which connects students internationally in the hope of bringing change to the Arab region.


The Youth Visionaries Association (YVA), founded earlier this year, was the result of the initiative and the hard work of Zaineh, a second-year Economics student from the UAE, and Sima, a second-year International Development student from Lebanon, both studying at King’s. Arriving in London eager to learn at one of the world’s best universities, the pair appreciated the opportunities and the sense of community fostered on campus, but started to notice that something was missing.

“We realized that there was a need in our region for a network and a home for Arab and Middle-Eastern students studying abroad,” said Zaineh, who studies with the Department of Political Economy. “That’s when we came up with the idea of the YVA.”

Connecting in excess of 100 students from the world’s top 35 universities, the YVA aims to foster links between like-minded students from the MENA region who wish to make a positive impact on their home countries. Through panels, events and conferences, YVA members are given the opportunity to connect with top professionals across different sectors and gain insights for their future careers. Among recently organised events was a panel discussion with Dr Saeed Al Dhaheri, director of the Centre of Future Studies at the University of Dubai, and a talk with Haifa Fahoum AlKaylani, president and founder of the International Arab Women’s Forum. The YVA is also looking forward to collaborating with other foundations for the upcoming COP28.

L-R: Zaineh Abed Alhameed and Sima Sinno. Picture: CONTRIBUTED
L-R: Zaineh Abed Alhameed and Sima Sinno. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Determined to grow personally and professionally and to have a positive impact on their home countries, Zaineh and Sima have been pleasantly surprised at the success of their idea.

“A significant number of students decided to get on board, and the word spread rapidly across different communities,” said Sima, who studies with the Department of International Development. “Word of mouth is very strong in our culture and that helped us a lot to reach out to people. We now have members up to the US and Canada and we are planning to expand even more”.

The association is going strong and there are now already multiple teams helping to run it. The administration is not easy work, though, and requires daily commitment. The two leaders have their studies to keep them busy but say the rewards of working on the network have been worth the effort.

What does the future bring then? Members of the YVA are brought together by their will to make change in the world. Zaineh and Sima, first and foremost, have a desire to go back to their homes and bring positive change with them. Long-term, Zaineh hopes to actively participate in the UAE’s public sector, leading strategic internal and regional economic development projects, while Sima aims to engage in the private sector with the hopes of empowering the youth of Lebanon.

Find out more...

You can find out more about the YVA here.