The acclaimed Opening Ceremony of the al-Quds al-Sharif OIC Youth Capital was held in Ramallah, Palestine from February 6 – 8; boldly inaugurating a year of landmark initiatives for Palestinian youth that seeks to raise international awareness of the Palestinian issue and preserve the Islamic character of al-Quds al-Sharif. The Opening Ceremony was attended by ministers and high-level delegations from 30 Muslim-majority countries, including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Kuwait, and Turkmenistan. It included the launch of flagship initiatives such as the formation of the first al-Quds Council of Patrons, consisting of OIC Ministers and high-level representatives of heads of states; with the honorary chairmanship of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by invitation of President Mahmoud Abbas. President Mahmoud Abbas further awarded ICYF-DC President Elshad Iskandarov with the “Star of Jerusalem, Order of Palestine” and Shield of al-Quds, OIC Youth Capital 2018, for efforts and activities undertaken in preserving the Islamic character of al-Quds al-Sharif.
Other significant achievements include the founding of the first-ever Palestinian National Youth Council, set to provide inclusive opportunities to youth from both the West Bank and Gaza, while giving them a voice in national affairs and empowering their international engagement. The program further featured visits to the holy Masjid al-Aqsa, Old City of al-Quds, and the Grand Mufti of al-Quds. Field visits were also made to significant institutions and cultural sites. The year-long program will implement a number of activities throughout the Islamic world in line with stated aims, uniting youth around the world for the preservation and sanctity of al-Quds al-Sharif.