Sharjah: Government communications should aim to improve human capital and strengthen relationships and values that help nations develop, said Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Deputy Governor of Sharjah and Head of Sharjah Media Office , in his opening speech of the 10th International Governmental Communication. Forum (IGCF) at the Sharjah Exhibition Center on Sunday.
Organized by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), the post-pandemic edition of the IGCF will take place on September 26 and 27, under the theme “History lessons, future ambitions”.
Speaking at the inaugural session, Sheikh Sultan said that under the able leadership of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, member of the Supreme Council and Sovereign of Sharjah, the Emirate has always put human capital at the first on its agenda and is making progress in strengthening the intellectual capacities of its human capital.
While there was a rush for building construction after the discovery of oil, he said the ruler of Sharjah had a clear vision to prioritize human capital over concrete revolution.
“Through communication, we strengthen the relationships and values that protect and develop nations,” said Sheikh Sultan.
He said the two-day forum looks to the future of government communications and will examine mechanisms, tools and changes in public perceptions.
Guest of honor at this edition of the IGCF, Prince Turki Al Faisal, founder and administrator of the King Faisal Foundation and chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Saudi Arabia, said that the protection and prosperity of people should always be the goal of governments and their communication.
“We must learn the lessons of the past and move towards the public good of humanity. The public good should be the goal of government communication, ”he said.
Bridging the gap
“We need to be truthful and honest and bridge the gap between people’s expectations and governance. The more the gap widens, the more it causes political unrest and conspiracy theories will spread ”,
Prince Turki called for a change and overhaul of the current international order for governments to face the new realities of the world.
He also called for a restructuring of the United Nations Security Council to give voice to the rest of the world that is not represented on the Council.
Prince Turki stressed that governments in the Arab region will not be able to maintain stability unless they address the root causes of the different types of terrorism that pose a threat to the region.
Calling for enhanced collaboration between the Arab League and the GCC Council to strengthen regional security, he said: “We will never be taken seriously if we do not take ourselves seriously. “
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary general of the Arab League, welcomed Prince Turki’s suggestions to improve unity in the region threatened by numerous risks and interventions by the superpowers and regional powers.
He stressed that much of the problems encountered in the region and elsewhere were the result of unhealthy relations between governments and the people.
People found themselves in a situation where they were not fully informed of what was going on and they felt separated, he said, adding: “No development process can be implemented without a population. well aware and fully informed “.
People were not seen as participants in development but as beneficiaries, which is a dangerous state that has led to alienating citizens from governments, he observed.
Emphasizing the need for government communication to ensure governments and citizens are on the same page, he said transparency should be at the heart of government communication to meet people’s needs.
Lessons from the pandemic
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw the impact of successful government communication. During the crisis, it became quite clear that governments which have open channels of communication with the public were successful in meeting the challenges and dealing with the crisis in a much better way, ”he said.
Modern technology has made it easier to process and disseminate information. However, governments should not only use them for communication, but also to monitor population issues and what causes confusion and misinformation among the population, he suggested.
He pointed out that the UAE has used modern digital platforms for the management of government communication based on the plans and policies of each emirate.
Representing an exceptional practice in e-governance, he said the emirate of Sharjah is a model that makes knowledge and communication an integral part of governance.
Dr Nayef Al Hajraf, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, stressed that government communication has historically gone through many stages and will require an effective and reliable approach in the future.
Call for credibility
He called for credibility, a proactive approach and professionalism using multidisciplinary teams to ensure people’s trust in government communication.
Stressing that the region is going through great challenges, Al-Hajraf said, government communication is one of the most essential tools to ensure the safety and security of nations.
He said forums such as the IGCF will help shape policies to improve government communication in the region.
Earlier, Tariq Saeed Allay, Managing Director of SGMB, said the international forum will highlight relevant topics that will be discussed for the first time at the regional level.
He added: “The world has witnessed rapid transformations in many sectors that have impacted the public and challenged governments. We hope that the results and recommendations of the forum will ensure the future readiness of government communications teams to meet the challenges resulting from such unpredictable conditions.
Other notable speakers at the 10th edition include Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former President of Estonia; Philip Hammond, British politician and former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Professor David Halpern, CEO and Board Director of the Behavioral Insights team in the UK; Elizabeth Linder, founder of Facebook’s Politics and Government division and founder of The Conversational Century, a consultative movement that challenges leaders to reinvent their roles in the 21st century, Syrian actor Abed Fahed; singer, visual artist and poet Remie Akl; Lebanese television personality, Malek Maktabi; and Egyptian YouTube sensation Ahmed El Ghandour.
The two-day global forum will offer a rich collection of 31 innovative sessions, including seven panel discussions, five inspiring discussions, seven training workshops and 12 interactive programs that will consider the future of government communications and review mechanisms, tools and changes in public perceptions.