Al Hayat Center for Civil Society Development was established by a group of young Jordanian activists in 2006. Through their experience in non-governmental organizations, student unions, and student associations, they observed a serious lack of youth participation in NGO and political life. While there were often programs targeting youth, the young demographic was often uninvolved in planning and executing projects outside the capital, Amman. With this in mind, Al Hayat Center opened its first office in Irbid in 2006, working to strengthen youth participation in development work across Jordan and to increase youth critical thinking and decision making abilities as well as their awareness of rights and opportunities for participation in political life. From the outset, Al Hayat Center started to work on difficult, and sometimes controversial, topics such as monitoring parliamentary elections. Maintaining its focus on rural areas, the Center opened a second office in 2008 in Karak. In 2009, Al Hayat Center opened its Amman office that would later become the main headquarters.
Al Hayat Center’s geographic shift away from rural areas has not meant a change in its core focus. Under the leadership of Dr. Amer Bani Amer, the organization has grown into an influential organization with a well-established name, both locally and internationally. It continues to be a youth-based organization, reflected in its focus, staff, and volunteer network that facilitates grassroots development projects. Al Hayat Center has built a vast network of over 10,000 volunteers and young activists, giving it broad outreach over all of Jordan’s governorates to guarantee engagement with communities in diverse social and economic situations, including rural and remote areas, the badia (desert), and Palestinian refugee camps. Al Hayat's broad reach was demonstrated during the recent 2013 Jordan’s Parliamentary Elections, when 4000 volunteering observers participated in the monitoring process.
Al Hayat Center's team of staff, volunteers, and interns come from diverse backgrounds, religions, nationalities and beliefs. This mix makes Al Hayat Center a fascinating environment, constantly developing innovative ways to disseminate the values of acceptance and tolerance, and it makes Al Hayat a productive environment to train new moderate civil activists in different communities. Al Hayat Center is proud of its strong network of donors, partners, and colleagues in its local and international networks. The Center's work does not only focused on Jordan. The organization has a deep commitment toward regional development and values of global citizenship, and has robust outreach on both regional and international levels. Al Hayat has made significant contributions in building the capacities of CSOs in election monitoring, parliment monitoring, local governance, enhancing political development, advocating for human rights, and supporting democratic transitions in several Arab countries including, but not limited to, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco, Yemen, the West Bank and Egypt by way of training and research services provided through its Training and Research Unit (TRU).
Al Hayat Center works in two main thematic programs: