News Release

Youth from the Middle East and Africa North Area Gather for Historic Conference

More than 200 Latter-day Saints participate in first area-wide FSY event

More than two hundred youth from across the Middle East and Africa North Area recently gathered for the first For the Strength of Youth conference in the region. The event was held January 25-29, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Similar conferences are held throughout the world to help young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ and get to know others their age.

"It's a program that has been created to help the youth, not only to gain confidence in themselves, but be able to work well with others, to be able to be resourceful in life, to make choices, to make the right choices in life and to be able to be great leaders of the future," said FSY counselor Phindile Mkhize.

Youth aged 14-18 came from several countries throughout the region, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, and Iraq. The theme of the event was “Trust in the Lord,” and the youth attended classes and workshops on topics like friendship and Christlike attributes. There was also a special surprise when Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles called in remotely to talk to the participants.

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Other activities included games, dances and a talent show. The youth also participated in a service project with the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara Sikh temple in Dubai. They assembled 3,500 hygiene kits to be given to those in need, part of an annual collaboration between the two faiths that has been going on since 2015.

Antonio from Iraq said that he loves serving others and that the experience was even better because he was able to do it with other Church members.

“Jesus does service and that is why I love doing service, to be like him,” he said.

An important part of the conference is to build friendships with other young Latter-day Saints, which is particularly important in an area of the world where there are not many Church members.

FSY participant Shiloh Olson said she was hesitant to come, but she is glad she did.

“One of the biggest challenges I face is socializing with other people and just like talking and all of that. And I think FSY has been like one of the activities that has helped me because it’s made me talk to different people and like just engage in different conversation and meet new people,” she said.

The ultimate goal is for the youth to return home with a stronger faith in Jesus Christ.

“There has been a time like where I have struggled about my faith, and I think this has really given me the boost to see that Jesus Christ really loves me and he's always there for me,” Olson said.

The event was facilitated by young adult counselors like Diego Torres.

“Activities like this are super important for these children because they come from all over, all over the world, and they might live in remote areas where they might be the only ones who belong to the Church. So coming together and seeing other youth, having the same beliefs and the same standards, is super edifying for them. And I felt that when I was a youth as well,” he said.

The conference was coordinated by Latter-day Saint volunteers Brandon and Kimberly Rowberry, who live in the UAE.

“I love the FSY program,” Kimberly Rowberry said. “It has changed the lives of the youth. It has brought them closer to Christ. It's helped them develop friendships. It's helped them to understand where they fit in this world.”

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