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IGCF 2017: An Inspiration to Youth

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

The sixth International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017) has become inspiration to all the Emiratis especially young people due to its significance, community development initiatives, and above all connectivity. It will host a “youth circle” on the first day of the high-profile event, being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, from March 22 to 23, 2017 at the Expo Centre Sharjah.

The youth circle, titled ‘The Role of Government Communication in Motivating Youth to Participate in the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,’ will invite over 30 young people between 15 and 30 years of age from various backgrounds and specialisations. It will be led by HE Shamma bint Sohail Al Mazrui, UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Chairperson of the Emirates Youth Council, and by HE Najla bint Mohammad Al Awar, UAE Minister of Community Development.
The said session will be hosted by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB) in collaboration with the Emirates Youth Council. It will be presented and moderated by a group of young Emirati media personalities. The initiative has been designed to promote innovative youth engagement in a wide range of areas related to sustainable development and global challenges.
Elaborating on the significance of the initiative, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council, said: “The youth circle is in line with IGCF’s theme ‘Societal Participation…Comprehensive Development’. Today, the world needs to engage younger members of society and heed their vital recommendations if it is to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.”
It will focus on how government communication can be effectively channelled to achieve sustainable development by encouraging the participation of all sections of society, particularly the youth. It will also examine ways in which government communication campaigns targeting youth can deliver superior results. The role of the media in motivating the youth to serve as engaged members of the community will also be in focus.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi praised the participation of UAE Ministers HE Shamma bint Sohail Al Mazrui and HE Najla Al Awar in the circle, noting that it will inspire the youth to express their points of view freely and confidently. He also pointed out that the youth circle reflects the UAE government’s commitment to strengthening and fine-tuning its communication practices as it strives to integrate its young citizens in the nation’s sustainable development drive.

HE Shamma bint Sohail Al Mazrui said: “In line with the directives of our wise leadership, the UAE government consistently supports the youth’s participation in community development. With the upcoming youth circle, we hope to expand their contribution and inspire them to add value to the UAE’s efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals.”
Elaborating on the country’s development goals, she said: “Issues like the environment, economic security and social stability are top global priorities in our world today and highly relevant to the youth, who form a large segment of the population. Through the Emirates Youth Council, we are working to empower Emiratis to become an integral part of the development process. The forum provides an important platform for youngsters looking to articulate their own perspectives on issues like the role of government communication in achieving sustainable development.”

In an interesting move, Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB has decided to document the names of the winners of the Sharjah Government Communication Award (GCA) in its past three editions. Titled ‘Best Practices in Government Communication’, the publication will be available for distribution at the GCA pavilion at the sixth International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017), being held on March 22-23 at the Expo Centre Sharjah.
Speaking on the SGMB’s initiative to compile the book, Asma Al Juwaied, Manager of the Sharjah Government Communication Award, said: “The book will collate submissions that won the award in the previous three editions of GCA. It will highlight each case study’s approach by describing the winning submissions, showcasing communication practices implemented, clarifying goals and outlining conclusions. The book will mention the submissions that won the award in each category, as well as the name of each winning entity. It will also shed light on how every submission was aligned with the criteria of each category.”

She added: “Presenting distinguished practical examples and how they can be leveraged, the publication will prove a valuable resource for government communication specialists and those focusing on government excellence. It will also serve as an important academic reference to media and communication schools with its incisive analysis of practical cases that complement theoretical observations. On the professional level, the book will present various examples in government communication practices.”

Al Juwaied added: “Communication between governments and audience of various segments and backgrounds has become a very important professional domain globally that cannot succeed without collaborative effort in documenting its practices and making that accessible to communication researchers and experts.” She hoped the book would help encourage more symbiotic research projects on government communication as a professional career, while raising interest in the subject in the UAE and abroad.

The book project is the collaboration between the SGMB and eminent academic institutions and industry experts. The team that worked on compiling the book included Professor Mohammad Ayish, Dean of the College of Communication at the American University of Sharjah, Dr Aysha Al Busmait, author and journalist, Dr Ahmed Farouk Radwan, Assistant Professor at the College of Communication in the University of Sharjah, and Dr Sharifah Rahmatullah Suleiman, Director of the Media Centre at the University of Sharjah.

Since its launch in 2012 under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the Sharjah Government Communication Award has highlighted accomplishments of individuals and institutions in the government communication sector to drive best industry practices across the UAE and other GCC countries.

The first-of-its-kind in the region award recognises local and regional efforts by groups and individuals working in the government communication field and supports their achievements to enhance communication with the audience, in order to establish partnerships between government entities and decision makers on the one hand and diverse audience segments on the other.

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