During the First Online Conference of YaLa Young Leaders in January 2012, YaLa members from throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) cited their need for better higher education and regional cooperation opportunities. With this in mind, YaLa developed its flagship project – the YaLa Academy (formerly known as YLO@) – the world’s first classroom that spans the entire Middle East and North Africa region, the only of its kind to bring together Arabs and Israelis. Leveraging the power of innovative online technologies, the YaLa Academy seeks to provide its students with knowledge, experiences and skills that can help them to take on leading roles in the economic, political and social sectors of their communities, countries and the wider region.Based on the outcomes and experiences of the YaLa Academy’s 2013 Pilot Program (see below) involving 300 MENA students who studied, discussed and networked together online January-December 2013, YaLa identified the following four priorities for its programming: 1) peace studies, 2) citizen journalism, 3) regional leadership, and 4) technological entrepreneurship. Several programs have been developed and implemented since the pilot, see the YaLa Academy website for the latest programs.

In order to determine the effectiveness of the model, structure and curriculum of the YaLa Online Academy, a one year pilot was conducted during 2013. Out of the many applications YaLa received, over 200 students were selected for the YaLa Class of 2013, hailing from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen. Read more about the 2013 Pilot, the 2014 programs or find out the latest on www.YaLaAcademy.org.