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IGCF 2017: A Giant Leap

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

The sixth International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017) is now getting momentum. It will be a giant leap. It will be held on March 22-23, 2017. Diversified but integrated activities, functions, programs and nominations have been finalized to be awarded during the said prestigious international event of the 6th IGCF 2017 which is the ideal combination of human intellect, team-work, strategic vision and digitalization covering all possible issues related to government’s communications towards people at large. To be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, IGCF 2017 will take place from March 22 to 23 at Expo Centre Sharjah under the theme ‘Societal Participation…Comprehensive Development’.
The Sharjah Government Communication Award’s (GCA) judging panel has convened for its concluding round of evaluations to finalise winners in 11 categories that will be announced at a special ceremony on day one of the sixth International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017).
It was held at Al Majaz Amphitheatre under the guidance of Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council, the jury’s evaluation meeting was headed by His Excellency Ibrahim Al Abed, Advisor to the Chairman of National Media Council and Head of GCA’s Judging Panel. It drew the attendance of Ali Jaber, Director of MBC Group Television and Dean of the Mohammed Bin Rashid School for Communication at the American University in Dubai, Dr Sulaiman Al Hattlan, Founder and CEO of Hattlan Media, Madi Khamis, Secretary General of the Arab Media Forum, Sami Al Reyami, Editor-in-Chief of Emarat Al Youm newspaper, and Asma Al Juwaied, Manager of the Sharjah Government Communication Award.
The judging panel reviewed GCA performance reports, nomination files that have been submitted to the award’s fourth edition and the progress made since the earlier edition in 2016. The reports indicated the uniqueness of this year’s submissions as well as the exceptional case studies presented by several government entities. The panel noted a 36 percent increase in submissions this year, with 179 entries received across all categories, compared to 132 in 2016.
As part of the final evaluation meeting, the panel selected the top three nominees in each category out of the five submissions that were previously identified by the sorting committee.
His Excellency Ibrahim Al Abed, Advisor to the Chairman of National Media Council and Head of GCA’s Judging Panel, said: “We are very pleased with the remarkable progress the award is making every year. He appreciated high level of participation in terms of the quality and quantity of submissions across all categories, while the participation of government entities from the GCC countries has added incredible value to this edition and increased the level of competition.”
He said “We have received 179 case studies from local government entities. Sharjah leads with 70 submissions for all categories, while local government entities in other emirates have sent in 65 entries. We have also received 44 submissions from government entities in the GCC countries, which are competing in two categories: Best Government Communication Campaign and Best Government Social Media Engagement.”
His Excellency Al Abed further added: “The selection process of the top three nominees in each category was extremely challenging as the presented case studies included information and accomplishments that reflect the enormous progress made in government communication practices. The UAE has certainly become a role model for other Arab countries with regard to effective government communication.”
For his part, Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), said: “Despite the enhanced and more stringent standards and conditions stipulated by the award this year as part of our annual review and development process, the number of submissions has exceeded our expectations. This clearly validates the award’s potential to become a key reference for advancing government communication locally, regionally and throughout the Arab world.”
He added: “The award is receiving greater interest from government communication professionals, thanks to its role in highlighting best practices that enable them to communicate better with their audiences and increase effectiveness of communication channels and tools. We have seen a 36% surge in participation this year compared to last year, which is testimony to the progress in the performance of government communication departments in the UAE.”
The award’s judging panel also revealed that the ‘Best Government Social Media Engagement’ category received the highest number of submissions, reflecting the increased interest in the digitalisation of government communication and the important role of social media channels today in formulating the relation between governments and the audience.
The ‘Best Government Communication Campaign’ and ‘Best Graduation Project and Research on Government Communication’ categories came second in the number of participations, while the ‘Best Press Report/Feature’, a newly added category to the award’s fourth edition, claimed the third position.
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 professional practices in the vital sector across the UAE and wider Arab region.
Moreover, the BBC will lead a Story Works workshop titled ‘Country and City Global Reputation and Its Impact on Economy’ for an audience of high-profile officials from the Government of Sharjah.
Moderated by Richard Pattinson, Senior Vice President, BBC Story Works, the global content workshop will amongst other things put forward communication techniques that could help Sharjah to further cement its international reputation, while reaping the economic and social benefits associated with powerful nation branding.

StoryWorks will focus on case studies of countries and cities media communication strategies from around the world that enjoy a solid reputation as a result of their media strategy in order to draw lessons and best practices that can be applied to Sharjah.
Commending the Government of Sharjah for its forward-thinking approach, Tariq Saeed Allay, Director, Sharjah Government Media Bureau, said: “This is a crucial step that will enable the emirate of Sharjah to better communicate and reflect the aspirations of our visionary leaders. The most dynamic and economically robust countries and cities have strong, well-defined brands. Such nation-branding strategies have proven to significantly boost tourist footfall, foreign direct investments and trade, besides drawing skilled knowledge workers and international human capital.”
He added: “Given the economic slowdown witnessed around the world in recent years, the challenge of national economic development has gone beyond the confines of public policy. It is therefore now more than ever essential that we analyze and monitor threats and opportunities for growth. Above all, StoryWorks will allow us to ensure that all of Sharjah’s strengths are strategically channeled into a well-executed long-term global communication plan that serves as an invaluable resource for the emirate’s continued success.”
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, IGCF 2017 will convene more than 100 speakers and participants, and draw the participation of more than 150 International delegations, as well as 200 regional and global government communication experts, while the attendees of the sixth edition of IGCF are expected to reach 3000 attendees.
Under the theme ‘Societal Participation…Comprehensive Development’, the definitive international forum will examine ways of utilising government communication to serve the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs), which have become the top priority of government programmes, international institutions, media organisations and civil society.
Launched in 2012 in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, the International Government Communication Forum is designed to showcase global best practices in government communication and enhance the performance of governments through improving their communication with citizens.

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