Auction of $3m bike to help youth in Middle East, North Africa

Auction proceeds will fund a satellite office for the Academy of Business Leadership to open business and leadership workshops to young people across the region

Final bids will be accepted in Dubai tomorrow for a $3m luxury art bike, with proceeds from the auction going to aid youth in the Middle East and North Africa.

The bike, a one-off design customised by the US artist Jack Armstrong, will be sold in a silent auction in partnership with the California-based Academy of Business Leadership (ABL). The funds will be used to launch a satellite office for ABL in Dubai, and open the academy’s business and leadership workshops to young people across the region. Anna Ouroumian, president and CEO, ABL, said the academy would aim to help tackle a regional youth unemployment rate that hovers at 25 per cent.

“I see a need for our style of teaching here, which says, instead of waiting to be absorbed into an inefficient market, why not encourage young people to innovate and invent ideas,” said Beirut-born Ouroumian. “Why not encourage them to start new businesses and connect them with mentors who can help them and teach them how to access funding.”

Youth joblessness was a key trigger for the wave of social unrest that swept the Arab world in 2011, toppling leaders in Tunisian, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Around 60 per cent of the region's population is under 25 and overall unemployment rates range from 11 per cent in Kuwait to over 30 per cent in Morocco, according to United Nations data.

US-founded ABL runs summer camps and year-round workshops for children aged between 10 and 18. The youngsters are taught to write and pitch business plans, manage imaginary stock portfolios, and hear from leading public and private sector CEOs. The academy reaches an average of 8,000 young people a year, from a mix of low and high-income backgrounds.

According to Ouroumian, all of its attendees graduate from high school and 99 per cent go on to attend college.

“The end goal is for these kids to develop the inner capacity to achieve their wildest dreams in every fields, whether that is an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, or in the public sector,” she said. “Our aim is to help kids become the leading CEOs, philanthropists, civic leaders and social entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”

ABL hopes to partner with the MENA business community and local NGOs to deliver its workshops, and plans to open a satellite office in Dubai “immediately”.

“Business leaders can serve as role models for these young people, to remind them that they can generate their own wealth,” said Ouroumian. “They can’t wait for their governments to save them. If these young people can learn to champion themselves, they can succeed.”

The reserve price for the bike is $3m. Fifty per cent of the funds will be directed to ABL. To place a bid, please email [email protected].