AIWF Chairman delivers Guest of Honour Keynote Address at the American University of Beirut FAFS Graduating Class of 2019 Ceremony

AIWF Chairman delivers Guest of Honour Keynote Address at the American University of Beirut FAFS Graduating Class of 2019 Ceremony 27 May 2019

On 27 May 2019, AIWF Chairman Haifa Al Kaylani was delighted to address the Graduating Class of 2019 of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) at the American University of Beirut, delivering the Keynote as Guest of Honour and a proud alumna of AUB to the graduates, families and faculty on this special occasion at the kind invitation of Dr Rabi Mohtar, Dean of FAFS at AUB.

In her address, Mrs Al Kaylani shared sincere congratulations on the Class of 2019’s achievements in graduating from the prestigious AUB programme that truly leads the way both regionally and globally in agricultural economics, food science and nutrition and the environmental sciences. The FAFS is one of the oldest schools of agriculture in the region and, through its impact-driven research partnerships and its world class teaching, FAFS has set a global standard within the Arab world and internationally. Its expertise in agriculture, food, water, energy and health is unparalleled in the region.

Mrs Al Kaylani said: “As FAFS graduates and future sustainability leaders – men, women, rural, urban, young students and mature students – you have all been well-equipped to serve the nation and the region. As our young leaders, our future entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics, and our industry pioneers, you have the passion, energy, drive and ideas to discover and innovate the solutions urgently needed to address challenges within the Food-Water-Energy nexus that have major global and regional significance.”

Mrs Al Kaylani shared her reflections on agriculture and economic security and the importance of entrepreneurship, technology, research, innovation and youth leadership in agriculture. She said: “The conditions for success in entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector and rural economy are ripe and the sector is ready and open for innovative young leaders as yourselves to reform the way the rural economy works and indeed to transform the entire food chain.” She also noted that technological innovation, entrepreneurship and social enterprise within sustainable agriculture could undoubtedly provide a vital solution to the youth unemployment crisis in the region and could spark exciting discoveries of new techniques and technologies that can support sustainable agriculture in the MENA region and beyond.

Mrs Al Kaylani also emphasised the important role of women as key contributors to rural economies worldwide, given that women comprise about 43% of the agricultural labour force globally and in the MENA Region, the female share of the agricultural labour force stands at around 45%. Throughout the MENA region, women are involved at every level in the agricultural chain, as producers, entrepreneurs, engineers, researchers and policy-makers, and a high number of households in the Arab world are led by women that are solely dependent on agriculture.

Mrs Al Kaylani concluded: “As graduates of FAFS you are all equipped with an outstanding education and the networks of support that are so vital to successful leadership in this endeavour. You all have the capacity, the power and the drive to help build healthy Arab populations, to enliven the rural economy, to enrich valuable research and awareness in these important fields, and to create exciting business ventures and innovative new models in this vibrant but underappreciated sector.”

The Chairman and Board of the Arab International Women’s Forum reiterate their warmest congratulations to the Graduating Class of 2019 on their monumental achievement and wish each and every graduate and future leader all the best in their future journeys.