I know it’s been 6 days now, and what I say or not say is of little importance. To most, the Jordan Youth Forum is old news now. I personally haven’t stopped thinking about it. This post is about general comments, the good, the bad and the ugly.

To put it briefly, this forum cost well more than 300,000 Jordanian Dinars. Almost all rooms at all the hotels at the Dead Sea were booked. Meals, coffee breaks, briefcases, ushers and thousands spent in the name of dialogue.
The forum was supported by the University of Jordan and The King Abdullah Fund for Development. It was repeated to me many times that none of them paid any money. When I asked who is paying for all of this I was answered that it was all privately funded. No names were given.

At the very bottom of the website, and on one or two of the printed material were these logos:

None of them were mentioned or even thanked at the forum, and I am curious as to know if these are the private bodies that paid for the entire thing. Transparency, a word we’re only good at preaching about. We kept mentioning it at the forum, we demand transparency from everyone, at a forum that did not once state or announce who has paid for it.

Moving on, less than an hour after all the sub sessions were done, the final suggestions were read to us. At first I thought that maybe they put them together quickly with the intention of re-assessing and including all suggestions and then taking them to his Majesty. It is basically impossible to put together a list of suggestions in less than an hour, while people have been discussing them for the past 2 days. For them to want to produce some sort of outcome to us at the closing session is very much understandable, but to publish the same list on your official website is something else. It means that you’re finalizing the list, it means that ‘this is it’!

The problem with the suggestions is that most were taken in rooms with 50 people in them. Meaning that the rest 950+ people in the forum had no idea what was being suggested and had no say in those suggestions. Some suggestions were put down that not everyone agreed to. For example, in the list about political parties, some sub session suggested that there should be a minimum of 5000 members for any party to be official and legal. That suggestion, very oddly, made it to the final list. It was later removed before the full list was published on their website because it caused a lot of chaos at the forum after being read.

I personally expected that three or four days after the forum ends, another more complete and more action oriented list would be published and that is the one to be sent to the authorities to work on. No mention of any future steps is on the official website.

To wrap things up, as I expected, nothing new was said at the Jordan youth forum. Everything everyone said is known to the average person and to the government. The problems put forward are ones we’ve had for years. The solutions put forward are simple ones, also known to all and suggested by many for years. Simple solutions if, and I repeat IF applied would certainly solve many problems we have.

Many excellent solutions were excluded from the final list, telling us that 1000 people can come together to suggest logical things, but only the 16 organizers get to decide which ones go. The only good thing about this forum is that it allowed space for the youth to discuss things, to let things off their chest, but that was not the goal. Even if it was the goal, then it certainly could have been done for much much less than 300,000 JD.

If that was the end of the Jordan Youth Forum, then allow me to call the forum a failure. I do hope that they prove us all wrong and work on a list that includes all good suggestions and try to get someone to work on them. Even if the solutions come from the private sector and not from the government at all, but let us at least push these solutions to whoever can work on them.

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