Behavioural Change Towards Human Development


Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

The 8th edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, will take place at Expo Centre Sharjah on March 20–21, 2019.

Sharjah Forum 2019

The Sharjah forum asserted that the responsibility of overcoming developmental challenges has now a shared responsibility with citizens and strategic partners, particularly media. Themed ‘Behavioural Change Towards Human Development,’ the high-profile 2-day global summit shed light on key challenges and issues in the field of government communication in motivating individuals to play a key role in the development process.

Highlights

70 speakers, including international media and PR stalwarts, policy experts, social entrepreneurs, and communications and technology experts thoroughly participated in IGCF 2019 which had extensive discussion agenda featuring 37 discussion panels, inspirational speeches, sessions, workshops and interactive forums.

IGCF 2019 and Interrelated Partnership

IGCF 2019 was held in partnership with key national and international institutions, including strategic partners Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), Sharjah Broadcasting and Sharjah Media City (Shams), NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), Government of Sharjah Department of e-Government, Rubu’ Qarn Foundation; international media partners, ENEX, Sky News Australia, and The New York Times; regional media partner, Al Arabia Network; local media partners, The National, Emirates News Agency, Dubai Media Inc, Abu Dhabi Media, and finally, official carriers, Emirates Airlines and AGMC.

Dignified Personalities

The 8th Sharjah forum 2019 hosted renowned local and international dignitaries and experts, including HE Hessa bint Issa Buhmaid, UAE Minister of Community Development, Prof Hamid M K Al Naimiy, Chancellor of the University of Sharjah, Dr Lamya Nawaf Fawwaz, Executive Director, Brand & Strategic Initiatives at Masdar; and Andrew Keen, acclaimed author and keynote speaker from the UK.

Prominent Speakers

Other prominent speakers included Rene Carayole, global speaker on ‘Inspirational Leadership and Culture’ from UK, Rabee Zureikat, founder of the Zikra Initiative, one of the most important initiatives in Communities Exchange Programmes and winner of many global awards, from Jordan, HE Abdulla bin Touq, Secretary General of the UAE Cabinet, Dr Abdullah Al Maghlouth, Ministry of Media Spokesman and Director General of the Centre for Government Communication, KSA, Sir Craig Oliver, Director of Politics and Communications for David Cameron, former Prime Minister of UK and Michelle Gielan, the bestselling author of Broadcasting Happiness and positive psychology expert from US rigorously participated the said prestigious international forum 2019.

Suzanne Afanah, Founder and Managing Partner at Advvise, Jordan; Marc Prensky, Founder of the education non-profit Global Education for Future, USA; Graham Brown Martin, Founder of the global movement ‘Learning Without Frontiers’ (LWF), UK, were also parted of the forum’s illustrious speaker list.

Prestigious Speakers

The other prestigious speakers included Dr Ali Al Marri, Executive President, Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government, Dr Abdullatif Al Shamsi, Vice Chancellor of UAE Higher Colleges of Technology, Dr Adiy Tweissi, Assistant Professor and Director of E-Learning Center, Princess Sumaya University for Technology, Jordan, Dr David Katz, “poet laureate” of physical and psychological health promotion around the world, USA, Meik Wiking, author and happiness expert from Denmark; Dr Hanan Saleem, consulting pharmacist and health coach, and Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, UAE.

Emerging Trends & Issues of Global Media Industry

During two days of said international conference/forum most relevant issues and topics facing the media industry today including fake news and its disadvantageous/harmful impact on government communication efforts, the role of government communications in motivating and empowering citizenry, the possibility of governments joining forces with private and academic sectors to design and implement long-term communication strategies, the need to harness individual responsibility as a key solution to future challenges, training, capacity-building and attracting communication competencies to bridge the gap in an era of rapid technological changes were discussed and debated during the two-day forum.

Day One & Main Session

On the first day of the Forum, the main session was held under the title ‘Human Behaviour: New Dimensions for Change Communication’, while the second session was themed ‘Responsible Individuals: A Key Solution for Future Challenges’. The third and last session of the day was titled, ‘Challenging the Lack of Capacity in an Era of Change Communication’.

Various Workshops

The forum hosted workshops, self-discovery stations and several interactive activities, as well as an expo entitled: “50 Years of Expo: Participant to Host” which showcased the history of the UAE at the international Expo.

Larry King: Fake news is here to stay

The inaugural session witnessed a recorded message from US media icon Larry King, who was not able to attend personally due to health issues. King discussed fake news and the need for each government to do more to be closer to its people. He added: “Governments around the world are scrambling to find the best ways to communicate with their people. Social media and other technologies have given the public an outlet for their opinions. It has also given them a platform for misinformation and rumors, and fake news and that is sad. This is why it is important for governments to strengthen their communication capacities to be transparent and closer to their people.

Fake News & Cold War Era

It has mocked the Cold War era too, but today, it exists and affects us on a much larger scale due to advent of new technologies. On the bright side, governments can use the same technologies to strengthen communication channels with their people, build partnerships and trust. So, be ready, train your teams and keep the conversations going between the governments and the people, he added. King Larry asserted that government communication is going to play an increasingly important role in good governance, and must be seen and shaped from the participatory governance angle in future.

Canadian-British animator & Writer Richard Williams

Canadian-British animator and writer Richard Williams also attended the forum, discussed the need to develop and improve education and the current exam system. The Emmy and Peabody winner offered key insights on how governments could effectively communicate with societies through leveraging media. Another special session witnessed motivational speaker, filmmaker and social activist, Richard Williams, aka Prince Ea. Williams stressed that, in the future, people would be hired based on how they employ their own skills. Roger Fisk, the political campaign, marketing and media director for former US President Barack Obama, also attended the event, and spoke on how technology can change people’s lives.

In the presence of Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council (SMC) and numerous other VIP attendees, the opening remarks on the second day of the forum were offered by HE Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB); Professor Hamid M.K. Al Naimiy, Chancellor of University of Sharjah; HE Thani Ahmed Alzeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, UAE; HE Saeed Mohammad Al Eter, Director General of the Public Diplomacy Office at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and Future Secretary-General of the UAE Soft Power Council; and American happiness researcher, Michelle Gielan, who has authored the bestseller, Broadcasting Happiness.

Day Two Highlights

Day two discussions at the eighth International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2019) stressed that the media needs to assume a transformational role and governments need to communicate more strategically to increase their ‘soft power’ currencies, which have emerged to play a key role in shaping and maintaining a nation’s international image.

Rubu’ Qarn Foundation

On the forum’s second day, Rubu’ Qarn Foundation for Creating Leaders and Innovators was convened young representatives of Sharjah’s children and youth organisations and selected UAE officials for a special session, which explored ways to intensify the youth’s role in participatory development. The session shed light on the centrality of the UAE’s youth in the nation’s cultural, societal and developmental journey, and seek to learn from the young participants their aspirations and interests. An “Arab Government Communication Leaders Forum” was also hosted on the sidelines of IGCF 2019, on March 21.

Panel Discussions

The second day of IGCF 2019 was featured four panel discussions. These were titled, ‘Education Through the Lens of Tomorrow: Changing the Norm’, ‘The “Skills of the Future” Culture: Addressing the Expected Disappearance of Jobs’, ‘Fostering Positivity and Sustainable Approaches to Happiness: A Road Map’ and ‘Pioneering Thought of Women Advancement’, which were held in collaboration with NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA).

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council
While speaking on the occasion, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council highlighted the importance of “positive change model” aiming at building positive change in the minds and outlook of communities, and empowering them to partner with governments to further the country’s inclusive development project. He also spoke highly about the successful implementation of these strategies, which resulted in shaping positive behaviour around issues of national interest, next big steps were taken to turn these successful practices into accepted community culture through the development of laws and systems to influence behavioural change. It institutionalises the government-public relationship and collaboration to together contribute to improving efforts, be it in education, economy, healthcare, security, social and humanitarian fields, he added.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi’s Suggestion

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi suggested that the IGCF 2019 will help to resolve emerging issues related to inspiring people and making them powerful stakeholders in national development through good government communication.

HE Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of SGMB

HE Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of SGMB, proudly shared that the IGCF has continually innovated to not only include new discussions to enrich the forum, but to also offered its platform as a launching pad for new initiatives and activities, which are in line with the forum’s objectives. “This year, a new behavioural change e-game platform, titled ‘Sharjah 2071’ in collaboration with Sharjah’s Department of e-Government and Sharjah Children will be launched; alongside a special SGMB release themed ‘Government Communication… Practices and Studies’. The event will also see several interactive platforms, one for the ‘Sheikh Sultan Award for Celebrating the Spirit of Youth’, and researcher platform with several features including one that will shed light on youth challenge in innovation.”

Jawaher Al Naqbi, Director of IGCC

Jawaher Al Naqbi, Director of IGCC justified the strategic importance of 8th international government communication forum’s theme ‘Behavioural Change Towards Human Development’ and underlined that communication’s key mission is first and foremost to elevate communities and empower all community members. Furthermore, it will explore the future of many countries in the region and the world, shedding light on the technical and technological changes that are leading the humankind towards a new age.”

Since its inception in 2012, the IGCF has been successful in enhancing government communication in the UAE and the Arab world and developing communication channels between governments and communities. The Forum was able to make a series of significant accomplishments over the last seven years, most notably establishing the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC) and launching the Sharjah Government Communication Award (SGCA). It was also able to enhance the abilities of government entities to manage crises and face challenges, as well as develop training programmes for all government communication units in the Emirate of Sharjah and stimulate university students to specialise in government communication.

Digital database on government communication

A brand new initiative of IGCC i.e. Researchers Platform was launched featuring a wealth of academic and research materials, books on government communications and other topics. The objective was to provide UAE’s media and communications students a rich repository of study materials, a platform to discuss their graduation projects and master’s theses, and host top academics and government communication experts at local and federal entities.

Based on IGCF’s theme, a side-line session titled ‘5 to the power of 5 – Five Challenges and Five Solutions in One Day’ brought together youths, five parents, five young adults and five persons with disabilities, as well as five communication experts and employees from various entities across the UAE, who worked together to discuss five behavioural challenges that represent a priority in triggering the role of individuals in a country’s development process and present practical solutions.

Sharjah Press Club

Sharjah Press Club brought social experiment videos in a session titled ‘Making a Difference in 60 Seconds’, where there was self-discovery stations featuring specialised trainers who guided visitors through the three necessary stages of training. The Forum also dedicated a workshop for the UAE’s government communication practitioners, which will be hosted in collaboration with the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), UK.

Allay’s Keynote

During Day One Allay’s keynote highlighted the role of IGCF, which was started in 2012, under the directions and patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, fuelling the emirate’s efforts to build a new integrated system of participatory governance, by supplying entities both at regional and international levels a wealth of latest information and expertise.

According to Allay “for the past 8 years, the Forum has been bringing regional and international expertise in government communication on one platform, and has highlighted the crucial role played by the media in linking the interests of government and citizens. The past editions have offered a basis for stronger government communication protocol in Sharjah and the region, and we hope this edition comes up with actionable recommendations to be adopted by government entities working in all sectors of human and national development.”

Chancellor of University of Sharjah

The Chancellor of University of Sharjah (UoS) stressed that the vision and desire of knowledge based human empowerment of HH Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi has taken the UoS from its humble beginnings in 1997 with about 600 students and 30 professors to becoming the top UAE university today, which is working towards establishing 75 PhD disciplines in the near future.

He said that the IGCF 2019 slogan, ‘Behavioural Change Towards Human Development’ is in accordance with Islam’s methodology to promote authentic culture of human-centric progress, which is really championed by the Emirate of Sharjah. “Sharjah is the capital of cultural, educational and humanitarian efforts on a global level. The Emirate has set a benchmark for modern development. One of the benchmarks is our Ruler, HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi.”

He highlighted the recent Emiri Decree issued by the Sharjah Ruler on the establishment of the Sharjah Oasis Technology and Innovation (SOTI) “free zone authority” that will be operating under UoS, saying that this new step will revolutionise the environment of innovation, creative and scientific pursuits in the emirate.

Role of International Technologies

Prof Naimiy said “International technologies are directly linked with the requirements of modern human development and we are proud to be launching a milestone project that will deliver on these development requirements comprehensively.

Importance of Scientific & Economic Projects

“We will be developing latest scientific and economic projects and conduct new research in collaboration with private companies and international universities to support innovation and technological development. Students will launch their projects, and the oasis will increase the competitive capabilities of Sharjah. The goal of SOTI is to create a generation of Emirati researchers in science, technology, AI, and other fields who will lead the nation’s development, he added.

HE Thani Ahmed Alzeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, UAE

Speaking on the occasion, HE Thani Ahmed Alzeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, UAE pinpointed the importance of change in human behavior in national development. Excessive consumption and non-responsible behaviours are impacting environment in an unprecedented fashion. Floods, storms, heat waves, etc. these changes have swept civilisations like Maya, and South Africa has recently turned around from announcing a drought. We need to learn from such experiences, he added.

UAE: Champion of the principles of sustainability

The minister said that the UAE is an example of championing the principles of sustainability, which was started by its founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan, and is continued by the current leadership. “We have several strategies as reflected in the UAE Vision 2021 that aim at achievement balance between human consumption and environment protection,” he added.

HE showcased various meaningful initiatives in the UAE like strong environmental legislations, awareness efforts like the National Environment Day was celebrated in February, the UAE’s national plan of sustainable production and consumption, tree planting initiatives, the earth hour, school and university campaigns, and the launch of the strategy of the Arab youth for the environment, saying the role individuals and media is no less important than that of government or private entities. “Your participation is the key solution to climate change. Ignoring the accumulative impact of the disregard of the environment isn’t going to help us,” he remarked.

HE Saeed Al Eter, Secretary-General of the UAE Soft Power Council

HE Saeed Al Eter, Secretary-General of the UAE Soft Power Council, spoke about the massive impact of government communications and image building in influencing a nation’s soft power. He highlighted the diversified soft power initiatives of News Zealand government after terrible incident of Christchurch.

New Zealand: Role Model of Soft Power

New Zealand has built its sustained soft image over several years through strategic media handling and government communications. It is exercised in making others live your culture and humanitarian values, in giving the world a taste of your way of life. It makes politicians and the world communities ‘love your country’.” New Zealand’s policies, in tourism, arts, culture, movies music, humanitarian efforts and scientific diplomacy through right political leadership have changed the world’s perception about its country. He emphasised that the UAE has used the most important pillar of political leadership to build its soft power and strengthen the reputation of the country. “A lot of people love our country because we are the sons of Zayed.”

Michelle Gielan

Gielan, who has spent the past decade researching the link between happiness and success, said that what the media broadcasts into the homes and on digital devices of people has a potent impact on their psychology and overall wellbeing. She noted that what the word needs is transformative journalism, saying: “Research shows that trans-formative journalism is better for advertisers, for journalists, for the bottom line of media organisations. It is also good for public’s health and for society. This is because transformative journalism is an activated and solutions-focused approach to covering news. It doesn’t just focus on the problems but also focuses on solutions by engaging public in meaningful dialogue.”

Second Panel Discussion of IGCF 2019

The second panel discussion of IGCF 2019, titled, ‘Responsible Individuals: A Key Solution For Future Challenges’ followed the opening remarks, and heard from panelists, Sheikh Sultan bin Sooud Al-Qassemi, a lecturer and researcher on social, political and cultural affairs in the GCC; Dr Nabeel Al-Khatib, General Manager, Al Arabiya and Al Hadath TV Channels; Rene Carayol, Global Speaker on Inspirational Leadership and Culture from the UK; and Rabee Zureikat, Founder of the “Zikra” Initiative, one of the most important initiatives in Communities Exchange Programmes in Jordan, and global awards winner. The session was moderated by Arab media personality, Zeina Yazigi.

Yazigi began discussions with the pressing question about the Arab person’s renewed identity, shaped not by changing their skin, but developing their performance. “How can they ‘re-belong to successes,” she asked the panelists.

Sheikh Sultan bin Sooud Al-Qassemi highlighted the UAE’s successful experience, saying: “As a matter of fact, we are lucky because our founding father, late Sheikh Zayed, instilled a love of society in the citizens, a quality seen especially here in Sharjah, promoted by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi. An optimistic view of the future has taken decades to build in our people, which our leadership has done. Today, the UAE ranks eighth in the world for positivity.

He added: “We are talking about changing behaviours of our people, but in reality we need to see the behaviour of people when they are not on social media. Are they committed to the environment? Are they responsible towards themselves? Are they charitable when the world is not watching? I am more interested in delving deeper into more personal aspects of individual behaviour.”

Dr Nabeel Al-Khatib

Speaking about the role of media in building responsible humans, Dr Nabeel Al-Khatib, remarked: “I prefer to consider media as a vital meeting space or a forum where different parties interact to reach common goals. What is problematic sometimes is that many media outlets want to teach people what they should be, which is why they have reached out to other platforms like social media to have a ‘horizontal dialogue’ as they are not feeling accepted or invited by existing government or media mechanisms. We need to stop this alienation; have a dialogue rather than broadcast/impose our views.

He added: “It is most important to remember which part of our message is actually being delivered or being picked up by the recipients. There are specific tools and mechanisms to ensure more effective delivery of a national campaign. Finally, building trust is paramount.”

Rabee Zureikat

Rabee Zureikat introduced an important angle to the discussions, turning the audience’s attention to the basics of community life practiced in villages and non-urban communities. Zureikat emphasised that while he is not against openness to the world, he personally feels that the Arab world needs to undergo a shift from being just consumers to active contributors to global achievements.

Through 37 events held over two days, the forum aimed to demonstrate that the primary mission of communication is to promote communities and reinforce the skills of people, through a positive message, which has been the core of Sharjah’s projects during four decades of smart communications, making it the deserved international book capital and the Arab centre of government communications.

For over seven years, the forum was able to establish practices that have become a source of renewal and modernisation of Gulf and Arab experiences in the field of government communication. Additionally, the project of Sheikh Sultan to achieve community development is a unique national model and the first of its kind in the Middle East.

Researchers of the region’s public sector and civil society communications could not find a programme that aims to involve members of the community, by adopting government plans and programmes, other than the forum, whose eighth edition will highlight the development visions required to fulfill its goals.

The topic of government communication is complicated. We’ve seen great acceleration in communication, and some governments have not been able to catch up. One of the key issues causing governments to lag behind is the fact that schools and universities are not offering courses in fields like specialised media projects, media monitoring, content creation, audience behaviour, or analytics, so departments do not have qualified employees to keep them ahead of the curve,” said Dr Al-Maghlouth.

Dr Al-Maghlouth

Dr Al-Maghlouth was of the opinion that the Middle East needs its own communication model. We need to find and create think tanks and research centres that can help us form the foundations of our own communications format. We can take lessons from other countries, yes, but we must not copy-paste their communication models.”

Concluding Remarks

The 8th International Government Communication Conference was held on March 20-21, 2019 in Sharjah, UAE. It was held under the theme, ‘Behavioural Change Towards Human Development’. It was organized by Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), IGCF 2019. It hosted prominent figures and top officials from around the world, including heads of state and governments, thought leaders, directors of regional and international organisations, representatives of civil society and study and research centres, media personnel and students of mass communication and media.
Rapidly changing socio-economic trends, psychological bitter realities, geo-political narratives and of course geo-strategic diversity demands a paradigm shift in behavioural change towards human development. It plays a crucial role in the achieving sustainable peace and harmony in the world. UAE is the champion of tolerance and has already declared 2019 the year of tolerance and international conference 2019 with the theme behavioural change towards human development will further strengthen its role in human development.

Positive behavioural change widens the scope of human development and humanity. It is the gateway for better human understanding to shun all elements and sentiments of discriminations, prejudices, bigotries and the last but not the least social stigmas. Behavioural change is the basic unit to achieve elements of unity, uniformity and happiness in the society. Being prominent regional expert on UAE & GCC I personally think that the outcome of said conference will be milestone in the history of government communication and of course mankind.

It is expected that outcome of said forum/conference will further strengthen the role of government communication in supporting and enhancing human capital development. It will promote human traits featuring discussions on the promotion of healthy habits by elevating the status of education. Moreover, it will build skills of the future by fostering behavioural practices dedicated to sustainability, and how governments can work together to encourage their people to feel individually responsible for human development.

Human being is the ideal combination of various cognitive, emotional, and behavioral capabilities. By putting people at the center of the development process, we start to understand why they choose what they do and the constraints they face. In this regard, the 8th International Government Communication will further foster human development in the UAE, Arab World and around the globe. Modern disciplines of economics, sociology, psychology, and even political sciences all highlight the importance of behavioral change for human development therefore the 8th International Government Communication Conference will introduce new methods to be implemented for sustainable behavioral change for accelerating human development.

I personally think that by acknowledging in individuals’ decision-making processes, including implicit and explicit behavioral patterns, governments can help introduce measures to address and motivate positivity in common people. Government’s communication through constant human friendly policies may bring change behavior to complement its interventions and affect meaningful and lasting change.

Human development is must for achieving the desired goals of “qualitative life”, sustainable socio-economic prosperity, political stability and above all moral purity. Many research studies have now confirmed that human development and behavioural change has direct correlation. Behavioural change always has positive impact on human development. Government communications is pivotal to institutionalize the holy concept of “human development through behavioural change which was the main theme of upcoming international conference held in pearl of the UAE, Sharjah on March 20-21, 2019.

We live in the era of sciences of mind wherein, behavioural change produces “push-forward” factor in the society. Human survival and sustainable development is heavily dependent on positive behavioural change in the communities, societies and countries alike. Countries, where behavioural change is matured, permanent and rationale through contributory government’s communications have already achieved high qualities of education, health facilities, better law and order conditions and above all political stability. New Zealand, France, Germany and UK are the prime countries for sustained Soft Power.

UAE being a pioneer country of tolerance in the region and the globe has pursued and achieved its desired goals through positive behavioural change in the society, system and public sentiments. His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah is successfully pursuing the golden principles of socio-economic prosperity, political stability and the last but not the least, system maintainability through bringing positive behavioural change in its emirate. Now Sharjah is the “cultural diversity capital” of the UAE.
Economies are now shrinking and politics are also becoming fragile in the world. Vicious circles of poverty, unemployment, gender discrimination and climate change is on the rise around the globe which stresses the need to have constructive behavioural change in the system of governance and delivery. Unfortunately, human traits are also on the decline due to sentiments of hatred, prejudice, bigatory and dis-connect are trying to siege the beauty of pure and simple humanity in the different corners of the world. In the time of “intellectual bankruptcy” and degradation of human morality, UAE stands first to announce “2019 the year of tolerance” which has been further strengthened by the ruler of Sharjah by organizing series of international conferences on the crucial subject of government communication in the development of human traits.

It is expected that upcoming conference will further strengthen the role of government communication in supporting and enhancing human capital development. It will promote human traits featuring discussions on the promotion of healthy habits by elevating the status of education. Moreover, it will build “skills of the future” by nurturing behavioural practices dedicated to sustainability, and how governments can work together to encourage their people to feel individually responsible for human development. It is indeed an “infinite voyage” of social responsibility, promotion of human traits, character building through behavioural change.
Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council (SMC), highlighted the unique focus of IGCF 2019 and said that “IGCF’s previous editions have successfully strengthened communication structures and tools by shedding light on several issues of importance in the field across nations and governments.

The Chairman of Sharjah Media Council (SMC) hopeful that the 2019 edition will further strengthen the role of “government communication” in promoting positive behaviour around issues of national interest. Government communication’s mission is to enhance people’s awareness and seeing the larger public interest as part of their own. This can only be achieved when governments use communication to influence personal and social practices in a way that will enable individuals to fully understand their role in the success of national plans.” Government communication plays an important role in the lives of common people and diminishes “trust deficit” between the government and the people.

We are living in an era of modern technologies and smart world of complex and complicated interaction. Innovations increase connectivity which paves the way of new ways and means for human development but fake news are here to stay. Moreover, social media has become bitter reality with no borders. Modern communication technology makes it easier than ever for citizens to speak directly to governments, and IGCF 2019 sought to leverage these developments to create behaviour analysis tools and mechanisms that overcome impending challenges to impact citizens positively and support personal as well as community growth.

The said forum pushed for the adoption of behavioural strategies into government communication plans a practice that distinguishes the more welfare-centric and participative governments in the developed world. It also highlighted the importance of training government communication personnel, who will be the agents of qualitative change in government communication by facilitating the adoption of behavioural theory principles.

Since its inception in 2012, the IGCF has been successful in enhancing government communication in the UAE and the Arab world, and developing communication channels between governments and communities. It has brought together many presidents, heads of government, thought leaders, state officials, CEOs of regional and international entities as well as civil society organizations and government communication experts to share their expertise and visions on the best methods of elevating communication and increasing its efficiency to address current and future challenges.

The said forum has made a series of significant achievements over the last seven years, including the establishment of the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC) and the Academic Commission of IGCF and the launch of Government Communication Award (GCA). It has become a reliable and trusted reference for an array of international communication case studies. It has also been able to enhance the abilities of government entities to manage crises and face challenges, as well as develop training programs for all government communication units in the Emirate of Sharjah and encourage university students to specialize in government communication.

Under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Sharjah launched the inaugural edition of the forum in 2012.

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