IGCF 2018 concludes successfully after hosting 40 prominent speakers from 16 countries
IGCF calls for strong steps to prevent attempts to illegally access and use data or communication channels
Recommendations include the need to develop digital diplomacy to facilitate active communication with the public
IGCF speakers suggest including artificial intelligence and media marketing in school and university curricula
Participants in Sharjah’s International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2018) have recommended the establishment of ministries for media marketing to enable governments to build the reputation and values that facilitate communication with people.
They have also called for the setting up of digital platforms to support public engagement in national decision making; creation of social media channels and applications for children and issuance of official licences for practicing the profession of government communication.
The recommendations were put forth at the closing ceremony of the seventh edition of IGCF, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and organised by the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC) on March 28 and 29 at Expo Centre Sharjah.
The Forum came to a ceremonious close in the presence of Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council (SMC), Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the forum’s guest of honour, HE Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), and Jawaher Al Naqbi, Manager of IGCC.
The evening’s proceedings saw the Academic Committee of IGCC share the Forum’s outcomes and its recommendations based on the same. A felicitation ceremony of the speakers, participating personalities, supporting and sponsoring entities and partners was also held.
Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi expressed his profound thanks and appreciation to all those who had contributed to the success of the Forum, particularly the speakers, for their expertise that enriched the sessions and talks. He also thanked the Forum’s guests, SGMB staff and various government and private organisations that participated in the event’s programme, as well as media institutions that gave the event good coverage and conveyed its proceedings to the audience around the world.
Jawaher Al Naqbi outlined the Forum’s recommendations, which included a call for the establishment of ministries for media marketing to build reputation and promote values that facilitate communication between the government and its audience, as well as with other countries in the world. IGCF 2018 also recommended that social media channels and applied programmes be designed for children to guide them and raise their awareness about the cons and pros of the digital means and support constructive communication skills.
Other recommendations include the launch a ‘government communication and media week’ to support young skills and spread awareness about the government communication sector and how to use modern technology in a way beneficial to them and society.
Participants also called for competent official bodies to start issuing licences to individuals who wish to practice government communication in cooperation with academic institutions, in addition to introducing government regulations that protect community members against any attempts to access their personal data or communication channels for illegal purposes.
The recommendations stressed the importance of supporting scientific research on future communication technologies and direct brain-to-brain communication that allows transmitting a thought from one person to another without the need of using a machine. The participants called for increased efforts to strengthen the role of youth in this direction to ensure sustainability in the process of digitalising communication – government and otherwise.
They also called for the need to strengthen cooperation between government bodies and develop public-private partnerships with a greater degree of involvement by academic institutions to develop competencies and prepare highly qualified cadres in government communication.
The Forum called for the integration of media marketing into school and university curricula. Other recommendations stressed the need to work on the use of open data to enhance the performance of governments and services for the welfare of citizens, while supporting economic transformations and strengthening the competitive edge of countries. They highlighted the importance of public involvement in the national decision-making process through technological and digital means, including the development of interactive platforms to communicate with the public, listen to their opinions and answer their queries.
IGCF 2018 called for the need to develop digital diplomacy, given its importance in direct contact with the public and for soliciting public opinion through commissioning various studies dealing with digital diplomacy. It also underlined the need for establishing professional associations and organising conferences and seminars that help stimulate creativity and innovation, as well as creating online literacy programmes that make it easier for individuals and communities to access websites anywhere and anytime.
The Forum also called for establishing an online platform that brings young innovators together, together with including smart education and artificial intelligence in school and university curricula. It suggested forging partnerships with social media providers to introduce special government communication platforms and develop training programmes for government sector employees on how to best use these platforms to serve mutual communications.
Academic Committee recommendations
At the end of IGCF 2018, the Academic Committee of the International Government Communication Centre presented its recommendations for authorities concerned with government communication in Sharjah, the UAE and wider world.
The recommendations were presented by Issam Nasr, Head of the Committee and Dean of the College of Mass Communication at the University of Sharjah. They included development of a paradigm for government communication practices consistent with the UAE’s identity and culture. This can be done by conducting a study on government communication strategies and methods on an international level, to identify important trends and communication strategies that can be utilised by local and federal government agencies in the UAE.
The committee called for conducting a study on the reality of government communication in Sharjah, including monitoring the methods of practice and means of communication and identifying strengths and weaknesses in the government communication process.
It also called for issuing periodic scientific journals on communication with the aim of encouraging scientific publishing and presenting case studies and leading professional experiences. The committee recommended that a research competition be launched for Emirati students of colleges of mass communication and media to promote the culture of government communication and its concepts, thus allowing new generations to develop their knowledge in this area.
It also called for cementing the relationship with Emirati academic institutions to develop programmes that promote the government communication sector and develop the labour market.
The committee appreciated the decision of the College of Mass Communication at the University of Sharjah to add courses on government communication, social media and public relations to its programmes. It also recommended designing an integrated programme featuring a range of workshops and training activities to develop the skills and abilities of government communication practitioners.
Honouring speakers, sponsors and partners
During the closing ceremony of IGCF 2018, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi honoured the forum’s speakers, partners, sponsors and supporters. The honoured included strategic partners: Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sharjah Islamic Bank, Sharjah Media Corporation and Sharjah Media City (Shams), as well as international partners Enex and Sky News, and Sky News Arabia (regional partner).
The Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council also honoured local partners: National Media Council, Dubai Media Corporation, Abu Dhabi Media, Dar Al Khaleej, Al Bayan, Emarat Al Youm, Sharjah 24, Emirates24x7, The Gulf Today and Arabian Radio Network. Other bodies supporting the Forum included official carriers Emirates and BMW.
Training partners: the United Nations (UN), Thomason Reuters, LinkedIn, UTurn and Harvard Business Review Arabic were also honoured. The service sponsors, including the Sharjah Roads and Transport Authority, Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, and other entities and companies that contributed to the Forum’s success, were also honoured.
Since its inception in 2012, IGCF has contributed significantly to highlighting the important role of communication as a humanitarian essential to achieve a better communication between governments and the public, and between government agencies and community members in compliance with professional rules and clear and transparent criteria.
The Forum has also stressed the need to embrace sophisticated methods and advanced means that keep pace with the spirit of the age. Over the past years, the IGCF has contributed to realisation of several achievements and outputs that have enhanced the government communication system in the UAE and greater region.