Regional Youth Forum 2014 (FAQs)

Regional Youth Forum

Empowering MENA Youth to Rethink the Future of the Region






What is the MENA Regional Youth Forum 2014?

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Youth Forum (RYF) 2014 is a pilot youth event in the form of training and a debate and policy competition. It is designed to engage young people who are active in civil society, debate and public policy activities in on-going debates on issues of importance to the MENA region and the global community.

It is aimed at students and recent graduates aged from 18 to 28 from the MENA region who will form a team made up of other members of their university or youth organization, who will represent that organization.

Each team will compete for two titles: ‘best debating team’ and ‘best public policy proposal’. Experts on debate techniques and policy drafting will work with the teams on relevant issues.

The objective of the Forum is to promote youth participation in the democratic process, specifically engaging young people in national and regional decision-making processes. It also aims to build the capacity of young people in argumentation and debate techniques.

What is the theme of the MENA RYF 2014? 

This first pilot edition of the RYF will not be limited to a specific theme. Participants will be asked to analyse and debate issues relevant to the current challenges of the MENA region including economic integration, education, youth mobility, gender equality, human rights, security and the role of civil society, and to propose policy recommendations.

What is the language of the RYF?

The RYF has two language options referred to as language ‘tracks’ in this document: English and Arabic. Each team should specify their track in their application. A maximum of two teams, one in each track, can be selected from a given country.

What are the stages of the RYF?

1.      Application stage - includes submission of a short essay – see below. (Deadline 2 October 2014) 

"Deadline extended to October 7, midnight local time"

2.      Selection of the  successful teams

3.      Training event in the team’s country of residence

4.      Submission of policy memorandum (Deadline 15 Nov 2014)

5.      Final debate and policy forum in Tunisia (22 to 27 Dec 2014)

Following the application stage, successful teams will be selected according to the criteria mentioned below in this document. IDEA MENA will then coordinate with the selected teams the organization of a debate and policy training session in the team’s country of residence. This training will be hosted by the team’s organization, depending on its capacity (adequate space for a 2-day training event involving 20 debaters; board or Flip Chart). The IDEA trainer will follow up with the team while they complete the next stage, which is to draft a policy memorandum that they need to submit prior to the beginning of the Forum. The last stage is the Forum itself in Tunisia with two competitions in each language track.

What are the deadlines for applications and submission?

The application deadline is 2 October 2014. The submission deadline for the policy memorandum is 15 November 2014. The final stage will take place in Tunisia from 22 to 27 December 2014.

"Deadline extended to October 7, midnight local time"

Why should I apply to the RYF?

·         To engage in a discussion and debate on topics of regional and global importance to young people

·         To sharpen your advocacy skills

·         To learn to write effective public policy briefs and receive expert feedback

·         To receive training from experienced debate and public speaking coaches

·         To join a growing regional and global debate and public policy community by interacting with participants from all over the region

·         To allow your institution to build a long term partnership with IDEA and benefit from its expertise in debate education

What do I need to do to join the Regional Youth Forum?

1.      Be a team of five current students or recently graduated students with debate experience, aged 18 – 28, and affiliated with an educational institution or youth organization in the MENA region

2.      Designate a team coordinator

3.      Write your short essay

4.      Complete the 2 mandatory application forms: the Online Questions (to be completed by the Team Coordinator) and the Team Members Information.

5.      Submit the application (including all the necessary uploads) by 2 October, 2014

"Deadline extended to October 7, midnight local time"

What are the tasks of the RYF? 

·         The RYF tasks are the application, and if selected participation in a two-day training event in your country of residence, completion of a written assignment and participation in the Forum workshops and competitions.

·         The application: all applicants must submit a complete application, including a short research essay exploring an issue of relevance to one MENA country and its history.

·         In-country training: Selected teams will attend a two-day training event on debate and public policy in their country of residence, hosted by their youth organization or university. This training will prepare them for the RYF and the associated competitions.

·         Written assignment: each team will work under the supervision of an IDEA MENA trainer to complete a second written assignment, a policy memorandum. Teams should submit a policy memo (1500 to 1800 words, excluding list of sources and citations in footnotes) in response to assignments specified by IDEA MENA. This memo will be used to compete with other teams during the RYF.

·         The Forum: participating teams will compete through two components, team debate (in teams of four) and a policy competition. The forum will also contain a public panel wherein participants will be able to meet and converse with regional experts and stakeholders, and take part in debate and policy workshops.

Is there a cost to participate?

No, there is no fee to apply or to participate in the RYF. Please see the section below ‘Travel and Visa’ for information about the costs that IDEA MENA will cover if your team application is successful.

Who is eligible to apply?

Any team of five university students, aged 18 – 28, currently enrolled in an accredited college or university in the MENA region, as well as recent graduates, can apply. These teams need to be affiliated either with their educational institution, or with a youth organization and ideally be active in contributing to civil society activities. IDEA MENA’s selection criteria include: active civic engagement of team members, leadership potential, debate experience, team diversity, in addition to a thoughtful and creative essay piece.

IDEA MENA will take into consideration the team’s affiliated institution’s capacity to host a local training event during the first phase of the Forum (adequate space for a 2-day training event involving 20 debaters; board or Flip Chart).

How do you define “MENA region”?

IDEA MENA operates in 19 countries in the region: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

How do you define “affiliated”?

A team that is affiliated with an educational institution or youth organization is composed of team members that are:

·         Current members of a youth organization, or

·         Currently enrolled in or alumni of the educational institution of affiliation

This affiliation will translate into a partnership between IDEA MENA and the institution or organization by which the latter will benefit from IDEA’s expertise and host the training event that will prepare the teams for the Forum.

How do you define recent graduate for the purposes of the RYF?

“Recent graduates” are defined as any person who has graduated from an undergraduate or MA program on or after September 2013.

Is there an age limit to the competition?

All participants must be at least 18 years old and no more than 28 years old as of 28 September 2014. 

Is there a Facebook page for the RYF?

You can receive the latest RYF information and updates on the IDEA MENA Facebook page




What do we need to do?

Write a short essay (min 550 words – max 1000) where you describe a problem affecting your country or another country of your choice in the MENA region, and explore the causes of that issue. The essay should be clear, i.e. break a complex issue down into core facts; contain elements of research, i.e. be based on verified information from reliable sources; contain an element of persuasion as you need to convince the reader that a given situation is problematic.

What is the format and word limit?

The word limit is between 550 and 1000 words, not including the bibliography. Font: Times New Roman – Size: 12 – Spacing: 2

What information should we include in our paper?

Please use this template for the first page of your essay. The essay title should be specific to the issue you are describing.

What citation format should we use?

Use APA embedded citation. This is a citation style where a short form of the source is given between parentheses in the main text after the statement that requires a source. The long form of the source is stated in the bibliography at the end of the text. Please consult the Purdue University Online Writing Lab for ample information about how to cite sources in the

body of your essay and how to create a bibliography in the APA citation format.




How do we submit our paper and the application form?

The Team Coordinator should submit the paper along with the application by uploading it through this link before the deadline (midnight local time). The deadline is 2 October 2014.

"Deadline extended to October 7, midnight local time"

What do you mean by midnight local time?

You can submit your paper up to midnight in your local time on the day of the submission deadline. This means that you can submit your paper up until 23:59 (or 11.59 PM) of 2 October 2014.

"Deadline extended to October 7, midnight local time"

In what format should we submit the paper?

Incomplete submissions or applications sent via e-mail will not be accepted. You can upload your submission as a Word document (.doc, .docx) or a PDF (.pdf) via this link 

Can I e-mail, mail or fax my application?

No, you must upload your application through the website via this link.




How will applications be evaluated?

IDEA MENA’s selection criteria include: active civic engagement of team members, leadership potential, debate experience, team diversity, in addition to a thoughtful and creative essay piece.

Your essays will be evaluated based on the qualities and structure outlined in the “Writing Your Short Essay” section above. Evaluation criteria are: analysis and argumentation, structure, citation and creativity. The application will be assessed based on the diversity of the team members, their motivation and their extracurricular activities. Although not a major criterion, IDEA MENA will also take into consideration the applying organization’s capacity to host the local training during the first phase.

Who will be judging our application?

Two evaluators will be responsible for independently reading and evaluating each paper submitted in accordance with the evaluation criteria defined above. A larger panel will evaluate the applications.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the representation of another person’s thoughts or words as though they were your own. In order to avoid plagiarism, make sure you always acknowledge (i.e. cite) the work of others in your paper. Participants will be disqualified for plagiarism.

How will you prevent cheating?

Evaluators will check that all submissions comply with the guidelines on citation and plagiarism that can be found in this FAQ. When a team is caught submitting work that is plagiarized, the team will be disqualified from the Forum. 

When will the selection results be announced?

After reviewing all applications submitted, IDEA MENA will notify all participants of their results by email on October 12.

Will we need to show proof of eligibility if we are selected?

Yes. Prior to organizing the in-country training sessions, we request that all team members must provide proof of eligibility. This proof must be sent via e-mail and include documentation from their undergraduate education institution, either through a certificate of enrolment, official letter on school letterhead, or diploma for recent graduates.




When will the MENA Regional Youth Forum take place?

The final stage of the RYF will take place from 22 to 27 December 2014 in Tunisia. Forum participants will be expected to arrive the day before, i.e. 21 December 2014, and depart the day after the Forum, i.e. 28 December 2014. IDEA MENA will aim to release further details regarding the Forum in October 2014.

What if I need a visa to come to Tunisia?

IDEA MENA will arrange a visa sponsorship invitation letter and any necessary proof of accommodation, and will reimburse the visa application cost upon production of receipt. Participating teams are responsible for filing their visa paperwork on time, as well as ensuring that all team members have valid passports.

Who will pay for the costs of the trip?

IDEA MENA will cover the cost of training materials, travel (including visa application) and a full board accommodation for each participant in the Forum. IDEA MENA will not be responsible for any other costs that the participant may incur to participate in the Forum (e.g. costs for a valid passport, private consumption, additional beverages, or other incidental costs before, during or after the Forum), unless otherwise agreed by IDEA MENA.

I have a question that is not addressed in this FAQ. Who should I contact?

If you have further questions, please email us at

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