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New research highlights the role of youth debate and creative enterprise in countering extremism

Transferable skills such as debating, critical thinking and creative enterprise are central to strengthening resilience in the face of radicalisation and extremist narratives, according to a new study. The study, entitled "Debate to Action", is built on recent field research across the Mediterranean as well as the analysis of five years of regional youth programming. The research underlines that the region's largest ever youth generation continue to want to be part of the solution to the problems facing their societies, and provides evidence that youth offer fresh thinking, entrepreneurial spirit and new solutions to common challenges such as extremism, radicalisation and issues of social cohesion.

The research participants underline the importance of acquiring debate skills to increase social and political cohesion and counter intolerance. Developing key soft skills helps foster a culture of dialogue and enhances critical thinking, which are key to increase resilience to radicalisation. They believe transferable skills are embedded in programmes such as Young Arab Voices, run by the Anna Lindh Foundation and the British Council, which has enhanced listening, understanding, acceptance and critical thinking of young people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region since 2011.

According to the study, the majority of young people in the Arab world are not attracted to violence. They are more concerned about the things that all young people worry about - careers, livelihoods, and community - than about radicalisation. The research provides evidence that young people can offer fresh thinking and new solutions to common challenges shared by societies to the south and north of the Mediterranean.

The study also highlights the value of social entrepreneurship, especially for those who are seeking to creative their own employment with the support and buy-in of the private sector. Creative enterprise can help widen career options for young people ensuring fewer pursue opportunities outside their country and further inspire young people to develop their local and national communities.

The research report carried out in the last six months across eight Arab countries will be released soon.