Goals of the Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program:

  • Promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and Saudi Arabia;
  • Prepare youth leaders to become responsible citizens and contributing members of their communities;
  • Develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills among Saudi youth.

Objectives – As a result of the program, participants will:


  • Demonstrate enhanced leadership, motivation, and confidence;SYLEP participants engage in citizen exchange
  • Gain an enhanced understanding of civic engagement as practiced in the United States, and the tools and skills to replicate some of these practices in Saudi Arabia
  • Be better prepared for employment
  • Deepen their innovative and entrepreneurial abilities, problem-solving, management and critical thinking skills both intellectually and through practical hands-on application

Program Design – The program consists of four components:

1. Orientation & Leadership Clinic (Washington, DC)

Led by Legacy’s trainers and distinguished guest presenters, the “leadership clinic” will utilize interactive, experience-based learning methods, establishing meaningful ways for each participant to explore concepts related to entrepreneurship, leadership and keys to career success.

  • Their own vision, passions and commitments;
  • What is entrepreneurship?;
  • Personal “branding”;
  • The attributes, skills and tasks involved in effective leadership;
  • The nature of youth leadership in the Saudi context;
  • Basic understanding of the elements needed to plan and execute a self-designed leadership project.

Panel discussions with young professionals and innovators in government, education, and NGOs sectors will enable participants to think about what inspires them and how they view leadership.  Presentations from social media experts will address how to use a range of new technologies to support and enhance their efforts.  Other trainings will develop creative and critical thinking and encourage participants to see themselves as change agents.

In addition, four U.S. university students will serve as Cultural Ambassadors during this three week program.

2. University & Community Immersion

Saudi participants, along with the US Cultural Ambassadors, will divide into three subgroups and visit different cities  of the United States (Pittsburgh, PA; Blacksburg / Roanoke, VA; or Austin, TX).  They will live on or near a college campus, and spend an extended weekend living with host families to gain more insights into American daily life. Participants will visit university career centers and meet with Human Resource professionals within their professional niches.  In addition, each group will participant in a service project and see how the private / for profit sector partners with non-profit sector to address issues in communities.

3. Leadership Summit (Washington, DC)

For the final week in the U.S., participants will return to Washington, DC, to focus on the practical application of what they have observed.  Facilitated sessions on project planning, teamwork, budgeting, and partnership-building will guide Saudi youths through the development of their project ideas. US Cultural Ambassadors will continue to participate and serve as resources, presenters, and discussion partners for thinking through action steps, strategies for trouble-shooting, and techniques for team-building and motivating one another.  Project plans will be presented to their peers for feedback and refinement.

4. Practical Application & Follow-up

Once back in Saudi Arabia, participants will continue to refine and implement personally designed follow-on projects, supported by Legacy. (Participants will be eligible to receive a mini-grant to support their projects.) Through online forums, conferences or webinars, participants will be able to connect, share ideas, successes and challenges, and receive support from mentors and experts.  Facebook, blogs or similar platforms will provide less formal venues for connecting alumni, to share their project experiences.