More than 1,000 young people from around the world will participate in a conference this week in Dubai on the effects of international migration.
The students, from more than 50 schools from countries including the United States and China, will take part in the four-day Model United Nations hosted by Dubai International Academy (DIA).
Now in its seventh year, the event affords students the opportunity to debate international issues as if they were UN diplomats.
Measures to improve economic inequality in rich and poor countries are among the discussion topics, according to Zohan Barkur, a DIA student who will serve as the conference's secretary general.
Countries with smaller wealth gaps enjoyed a relatively larger base of consumers that could propel economic growth, he said.
"Possible solutions include implementing progressive taxes on higher-income people and then redistributing goods more evenly,” Zohan said.
"But this has its downsides, as higher taxation on business increases costs and makes the economy less competitive.”
Governments could also provide free education to the children from poor families, he said. "However … the quality of education in many of these free schools is not as good as private schools, and it is one of the real challenges that we face,” said Zohan.
Fellow DIA student Sparsh Jain, 16, the president of the general assembly, argued that having a good education was not enough to secure a good job.
"So it's more important than ever to be confident and charismatic,” he said.
As the number of global migrants was expected to rise from 200 million to 250 million in the coming years, it was crucial that young people have the right skills to attract potential employers, Sparsh said.
The event is run in the same format as the UN in New York, with committees set up to discuss issues and formulate resolutions that will be voted on by the general assembly. Ashish Tharoor, 15, the deputy secretary general of the event in Dubai, said the student delegates would not represent their home country.
So they "must do the necessary research to find out how that particular country [the one they are representing] votes”, he said. The idea is to encourage participants to understand why some countries vote the way they do.
Ahana Nanda, 16, who is part of the DIA's organising team, believes it is important to provide education to more women from rural areas around the world.
"But you can't let your personal opinions decide how you think the country you're representing should vote,” Ahana said. "It's about looking at why a country behaves the way it does and understanding other perspectives.”
The conference's opening ceremony was held on Wednesday night at the American University in Media City. The mini-UN sessions at DIA in Emirates Hills will run daily until Saturday. The event is the only one of its kind in the UAE that is affiliated with The Hague International Model United Nations, a non-profit educational foundation.
Source: The National