About

Bold leadership, ground-breaking ideas, unparalleled passion …

For almost a decade the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme has brought together the brightest minds and outside the box leaders to put their innovative thinking to work at building a more forward-thinking Europe that is a global champion for a better world. The European Young Leaders represent a new generation of leaders, able to tackle the increasing disconnects between citizens and political elites, to rebuild the trust that is vital to democracies.

These promising and established leaders come from a variety of backgrounds including politics, business, civil society, arts, science and the media.


Listen here to the leading views of our EYLs on a variety of topics

Negar Mortazavi on Europe's role in the US-Iran dispute, the Trump factor and the role of media

Leading view

Negar Mortazavi on Europe's role in the US-Iran dispute, the Trump factor and the role of media

Negar Mortazavi

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Una Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change

Leading view

Una Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change

Una Mullally

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Philanthropy & the business case for human rights with Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Antonio Zappulla

Leading view

Philanthropy & the business case for human rights with Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Antonio Zappulla

Antonio Zappulla

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Author Francesca Cavallo on Rebel Girls, bro-culture and crowd-funding

Leading view

Author Francesca Cavallo on Rebel Girls, bro-culture and crowd-funding

Francesca Cavallo

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Continue to Meet the EYL

Meet the EYL40

Photo of Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar
Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar

Co-Founder & Artistic Director at Polyphony Foundation, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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A gifted violinist and visionary champion for youth and community development, Nabeel has led and inspired people from all walks of life across Israel, Europe and the U.S. He performed with, and was a spokesperson for, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra for a decade as well as performing as a soloist with the Jerusalem Camerata and the Haifa Symphony orchestras. In 2006, Nabeel gave up his music career and returned to his hometown, the Arab-Israeli city of Nazareth, where he founded and led the Barenboim-Said Conservatory—now known as the Polyphony Conservatory—to answer the need he saw in the community for quality music programming. Nabeel has been awarded the Yoko Ono Award for Courage in the Arts for his lifelong-commitment to fostering a sense of community between young pan-Arab and Jewish musicians.

Absi Abou Zaid

Founder & Chief Executive Officer Mavericks International School, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Seif is a social and policy entrepreneur, passionate about education and its relationship to governance. Seif co-founded the Agency for Development and Enhancement, which provides training for young people, and the Nabadat Foundation, a non-profit which aims to use technology to improve education to fight poverty and enhance political awareness. Seif is also the former CEO of Tahrir Academy, a blended learning platform that creates intellectually-stimulating learning experiences for more than 160,000 registered Egyptian and Arab learners. In 2015, he founded the Mavericks International School, which seeks to leverage innovative teaching methods and technology to develop the unique potential of its students.

Photo of Abdallah	Absi Halabi
Abdallah Absi Halabi

Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Zoomaal, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Abdallah Absi is founder and CEO of Zoomal, the leading crowdfunding platform in the Middle East, which involves the top VCs in MENA, and co-founder of GivingLoop, a sustainable fundraising platform that helps non-profits focus less on fundraising and more on changing the world. Abdallah did not complete his university education, but went on to see huge successes in the entrepreneurial world, being covered by CNN, WSJ, Forbes, and others. He is also an Ashoka fellow, a Global Shaper for the World Economic Forum in the Beirut Hub, and a Startup Weekend organizer by the Kauffman foundation, and describes himself as a social mission

Photo of Lina	Almaeena
Lina Almaeena

Co-founder & Director of Jeddah United (JU), 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Lina is a leading figure in the sport industry in Saudi Arabia, who co-founded Jeddah United (JU), the first Saudi private sports company to train girls and boys in team sports to promote sports culture. Lina was captain of the Jeddah United Women’s basketball division up to 2012, columnist for Almadina newspaper, and climbed the Everest Base Camp as part of a breast cancer awareness campaign. Her efforts are an example of grassroots challenging of strict gender rules in Saudi Arabia, and Lina has been listed as one of the 200 Most Powerful Women in the Middle East by Forbes Magazine 2014.

Ines Amri
Ines Amri

Consultant at Arab Institute of Business Leaders, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Ines has been the Deputy Secretary-General of the Maghreb Economic Forum since November 2015, as well as being a founder and the current Vice-President charged with fundraising and projects of the Organisation Volonté et Citoyenneté, a Youth-led NGO in Tunisia that seeks to promote human rights and social entrepreneurship projects. A passionate social entrepreneur, Ines is also co-founder and team leader of an initiative called Med Voices, a free, independent platform for creative voices from the banks of the Mediterranean, working for social justice and social change. Ines served as a member of the International Jury of the Plural+ Video Festival, hosted by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 2013, and was nominated by the US Embassy in Tunisia to represent Tunisia in the 2014 International Visitor Leadership Program : The Role of NGOs in Promoting Global Women’s Issues.

Tammam Azzam
Tammam Azzam

Artist, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Born in Damascus, Tammam started his career in Syria as a painter and a graphic designer and has since participated with his works in solo and group exhibitions around the world. Following the start of the uprising in Syria, he turned to digital media and graphic art to create visual composites of the conflict that resonated with international viewers. These widely distributed works are informed by his interest in the interventionist potential of digital photography and street art as powerful and direct forms of protest that are difficult to suppress. In early 2013, Tammam made worldwide headlines when his Freedom Graffiti print went viral on social media.

Ahmed Ben Mussa
Ahmed Ben Mussa

Chief Commercial Officer at Tatweer Research, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Ahmed Ben Mussa is an energy expert with ten years of experience in operations and business development of the oil service industry in the United States, Egypt and Libya. Most recently, Ben Mussa was nominated as the Chief Commercial Officer at Tatweer Research, a leading Libyan technological organisation with a focus on nurturing the country’s young potential, supporting entrepreneurs and attracting international expertise and investment. Prior to that, he worked with the UN World Food Programme in Libya where he conducted food security assessments on the field.

Chaima Bouhlel
Chaima Bouhlel

President of Al Bawsala, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Chaima Bouhlel serves as the President of Al-Bawsala, a non-profit Tunisian NGO operating to bring transparency to political processes and engage ordinary citizens in a region wracked by government crackdowns. Chaima joined Al-Bawsala in 2014 to start and lead “Marsad Baladia” project, an observatory that monitors all municipalities across the country, and was elected as president in October 2016. Since 2016, she has also been co-hosting a weekly radio show on the National Radio discussing public policy and public institutions’ performance. Prior to joining the Al-Bawsala, Chaima worked in the micro finance sector, and in building the capacity of journalists in post-revolutionary Tunisia. During her studies at Harvard University, she was president of the Society of Arab Students, and co-organized the Harvard Arab Weekend in 2011, the biggest pan-Arab conference in North America.

Yostina Boules
Yostina Boules

Founder & Managing Director at Taqa Solutions, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Yostina Boules, dubbed “the magic machine” by farm owners, is Founder and Managing Director of Taqa Solutions, an Egyptian based organisation aiming to provide a clean and independent energy source to farmers by producing energy from poultry waste. By doing this, the Taqa solutions simultaneously addresses the problem of waste management from one of Egypt’s main agricultural industries, while maximising clean energy production. Yostina was selected as a Pioneer of Egypt after becoming a finalist on El Mashrou3, an entrepreneurship reality television competition.

Hala Bugaighis
Hala Bugaighis

Co-Founder of Jusoor, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Hala Bugaighis is a lawyer and co-founder of Jusoor, a non-governmental organisation committed to independent policy research and human development projects for women with focus on the economic and social empowerment. As a lawyer with 15 years of experience, Hala focuses on commercial, banking, civil and investment laws, and has a sound understanding of law practice in an international context. Through her private companies, Hala has worked as a consultant to many international companies as well as Libyan private and public entities, focusing on development and capacity building. In 2015, Hala was nominated a UN Women Champion for Women Economic Empowerment – an initiative that aims to improve women’s economic standing and potential around the world.

Lina Ejeilat
Lina Ejeilat

Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of 7iber.com, 2017 MENA Young Leader

Show more information on Lina Ejeilat

Lina Ejeilat is co-founder and editor-in-chief of 7iber.com, a Jordanian citizen media platform and online magazine, created to inform and engage communities in order to develop a more open society. It is known for publishing taboo political, economic, social, and religious topics that mainstream media avoid. In addition to its online presence, 7iber.com delivers trainings, workshops, debates, and talks. Lina advocates for freedom of press, universal rights and access to information, taking part in numerous meetings and conferences in order to promote these.

Othman El Ferdaous
Othman El Ferdaous

Secretary of State for Investment, Cabinet Office, Morocco, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Othman El Ferdaous is Secreatary of State in Marocco’s Cabinet office, where he focuses on investments. he is an experiences public affairs and strategic communication professional, listed among the 50 most influential Moroccans under 40 by Telquel Magazine in 2016. He is a strong advocate for EU-Maghreb integration and founded clubgibraltar.org, a non-profit organization aiming to provide a “”South-North”” perspective on European affairs, especially policy and institutions matters regarding the Mediterranean and Africa. He is also a board member of Sciences Po Alumni Morocco, focused on fostering reverse brain drain by mentoring Moroccan students. He releases a monthly newsletter covering Moroccan issues read by +7000 subscribers.

Imen Ben Mohamed
Imen Ben Mohamed

Member of Parliament Assembly of the People's Representatives, 2017 MENA Young Leader

Show more information on Imen Ben Mohamed

Imen Ben Mohamed is a Tunisian politician representing the new face of the moderate Islamist party Ennahda (“Renaissance” in Arabic) in both the Maghreb Shura Council and the Assembly of the People’s Representatives where she holds a seat in the Rights, Freedom and Foreign Affairs Committee. Her education in Italy, where her family lived in exile, and strong commitment to youth and family policies have made her a rising political star in a country still struggling to define itself in the increasingly turbulent landscape of the MENA region. Ben Mohamed is a strong supporter of dialogue between cultures and religions.

Sami Hourani
Sami Hourani

Founder and Executive Director of Leaders of Tomorrow, 2017 MENA Young Leader

Show more information on Sami Hourani

Sami Hourani is medical doctor and serial social entrepreneur. He is the founding director of the well-known educational platform For9a.com. Dr. Hourani is also the founder and the executive director of the regional organization Leaders of Tomorrow and the innovative social initiatives; Diwanieh, Mo7aka and the new and creative qualitative research methodology FADFED. He is a fellow at Ashoka, largest hub for social innovators world wide. He received King Abdullah II Demoqrati award in 2014 and EUROMED youth award in 2013. He was also elected as the Jordanian Role Model of 2011 and received the Jordanian title “Knight of Change” in 2008.

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Selection process

Selection process for the Balkan class is now open

Friends of Europe is looking for outstanding candidates to join our Balkan European Young Leaders Class of 2020. Building on our successful European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme, we are expanding by selecting six Young Leaders from the Western Balkan region. These six Balkan Young Leaders will be invited to take part in all activities organised within our EYL40 programme.

We are looking for candidates who

  • Are between 30 and 40 years of age (born on or after 1 January 1980);
  • Have proven track records as established thought leaders in their fields of activity;
  • Reached, or are on track to reaching, the highest ranks of their field of expertise;
  • Candidates must be a national of 1 of the 6 Balkan states currently involved in enlargement negotiations (Serbia, Kosovo*, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro);
  • Candidates are required to be fluent in English, the programme’s working language.

Current and previous European Young Leaders include

  • Eneko Atxa, Chef at three-Michelin-starred restaurant Azurmendi, Spain
  • Danka Barteková, Olympic Bronze Medallist, Slovakia
  • Clément Beaune, Europe and G20 Advisor to President Emmanuel Macron, France
  • John Collison, President & Co-Founder of Stripe, Ireland
  • Alexandra Dariescu, Concert Pianist and Producer of ‘The Nutcracker and I’, Romania
  • Carole Dieschbourg, Minister of the Environment, Luxembourg
  • Selina Juul, Founder and Chairman of the Stop Wasting Food movement, Denmark
  • Kaja Kallas, Leader of the liberal Reform party, Estonia
  • Magid Magid, Member of the European Parliament, United Kingdom
  • Frédéric Mazzella, CEO and Founder of BlablaCar, France
  • Souad Mekhennet, Correspondent for the Washington Post, Germany
  • Bastian Obermayer, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and recipient of the ‘Panama Papers’, Germany
  • Marko Pavic, Minister for Labour and the Pension System, Croatia
  • Jens Spahn, Minister for Health, Germany

Application process

For nominations:
Please send the full name, date of birth and all contact details of the candidate that you wish to nominate. Please include a short biography of their professional background and achievements, as well as a letter explaining why you believe that they are a suitable candidate for the programme.

For personal applications:
Please send your CV (including date of birth and full contact details), together with a cover letter explaining why you believe that you should be considered for the programme.

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: 11 October 2019
All submissions should be sent directly to eyl40@friendsofeurope.org

* For the United Nations Development Programme, references to Kosovo in this document accordingly shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).
For the European Union, this designation used is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244/99 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

The deadline for the selection process of the “regular” EYL40 class of 2020 has passed.

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