The second day of the World Youth Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh kicked off on Monday with a roundtable discussion on social media, with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi warning of the dangers of its misuse.
"Human development is a crucial subject. I come from a generation which lived without television, and when it was introduced in Egypt as a mean of communication, and as our lives changed [as a result], people were scared and worried that the firm connections between them had started decrease," he said.
El-Sisi also said that any attempt to ban social media websites would not succeed.
He added the formation of a national committee or a research group to discuss social media in all its aspects will be among the recommendations of the forum, as well as putting in place a strategy to benefit from social media.
El-Sisi hinted that when he was military intelligence chief in 2010 he warned in a lecture about social media’s potential danger to society, adding that the past seven years were proof of that.
He also warned about how, he said, the spreading of rumours have evolved through social media.
"Nevertheless the fault is not in the social media, it is in the fact that we are not ready to use it properly," he said.
The roundtable panel on “Social media: Saving or enslaving users” featured 15 experts and prominent figures on social media from all over the world, including researcher in social media and mental health Bailey Parnell, multidisciplinary artist Arwa Abounoun, specialist in digital security Christine Adero, specialist in media networking Khawla Al-Hawi, and Egyptian national security expert Khaled Okasha.
Later on Monday, the Egyptian president is set to participate in a panel discussion on the mechanism for building future leaders.
The second day of the forum, which runs from 3-6 November, will also see discussions on empowering people with disabilities, narrowing the gender gap in the labour market, volunteering, the role of entrepreneurs and starts up in global economic growth, the role of art and cinema in shaping societies, and water security in the wake of climate change.
The Model Arab-African Summit (MAAS) will also take place, with the model summiteers discussing the prospects of economic integration.
This year, the forum’s events revolve around a vision inspired by The Seven Pillars of the Egyptian Identity, a book by Egyptian author Milad Hanna written to emphasise the unity and harmony of Egyptian society despite divergences and differences, according to the official website of the forum.
Around 5,000 youth are participating in the events.
The first World Youth Forum took place last year, also in Sharm El-Sheikh, which has been described by Egyptians officials as the “city of peace.”