Mar 152017

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.

Mar 152017

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

The Heart of Central Asia, UZBEKISTAN will resume direct flights operation from Lahore, Pakistan to Tashkent from April 5, 2017. Uzbekistan Airways the best in the Central Asian Regime will launch two flights a week from Lahore to Tashkent from April 5, 2017. Flights would operate on every Wednesday and Friday from April 5, 2017. The number of flights can be increased in the future. Previously, Uzbekistan Airways suspended flight operations from Pakistan due to less load issue in 2013 but now a plan has been finalized out to keep smooth operation intact in future.

Uzbek Embassy in Islamabad under the supervision of his Ambassador H.E. Furqat SIDIQOV has been working tirelessly to resume fights for the last two years. He worked very hard to achieve the UNREALIZED DREAM OF GREATER CONNECTIVITY via Direct Air-Links between the countries. He termed direct air-links is must for enhancing government-to-government, business-to-business and the last but not the least, people-to-people contacts between the brotherly countries. He believes that direct flights would widen horizon of bilateral relations and ultimately volumes of bilateral trade, tourism, investments, joint ventures, educational and cultural cooperation would also be on the rise.

Resumption of direct flights between the two countries would have many socio-economic multiplier effects for both. It would reduce time span. It would reduce budgetary allocations and ultimately increase connectivity.

It is indeed a Giant Step towards greater regional connectivity between the two countries because no other Central Asian Country has direct access/flight with Pakistan and passengers have to travel via UAE, Qatar or Turkey to reach in these countries.

Uzbekistan Airways has planned to enhance tourism activities between the both countries and both the countries would enhance tourism visa quota so tourism between the two friendly countries could be increased in year 2017.

Uzbekistan Airways suspended its flight operation to Lahore almost four year ago and Pakistan lost its last connection to Central Asia. However during 2016 a private company of Tajikistan started two flights a week on May 6, 2016 which subsequently got closed.

It may be mentioned that Pakistan was first South Asian country that initiated flights to Tashkent after Uzbekistan got independence from former Soviet Union in early 90s. Pakistan government has already shifted its attention to Central Asia since government of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif came, therefore both countries should come forward for the further strengthening of bilateral relations having direct air-links.

Uzbekistan Airways flights will not only carry travelers to different destinations around the world from Pakistan, but will also give Pakistani businessmen opportunities to explore the market for their products in Central Asia. Uzbekistan was the favorite destination for Pakistan tourists, and it is hoped that tourism will improve between the two countries after resumption of direct flights between two countries starting from April 5, 2017.

Tashkent-Lahore flight is necessary for Pakistan and Uzbekistan. Resumption of flights between Tashkent and Lahore will open the door for both the countries to get the most benefit from each other’s expertise in the economic field, as well as energy, trade, and tourism, energy, agriculture, automobile and fashion industry.

Mutual visa restrictions between Uzbekistan and Pakistan was one the main reasons of Uzbekistan Airways suspension of flights operation badly had lowered the passenger volume.

Hopefully, after new Visa Policy announced by the government of Uzbekistan, there would be a drastic change in Visa Regime between the two countries in the future. Pakistani businessmen and students were among those affected by the suspension of the air link. Pakistani businessmen exported goods weighing 10 tonnes every week to the Central Asian states through the Lahore-Tashkent flights which was stopped due to suspension of the air-link.

Pakistani textile and handicraft goods have a good market in Uzbekistan. The transport expenditures had doubled since the direct air link with Tashkent was suspended. Afterwards, Pakistani businessmen had to get the cargo booked through connecting flights in the Gulf for the Central Asian states. A golden opportunity lost.

Travel agents had also suffered badly. They would now do good business by giving options to passengers traveling to Europe [via] Uzbekistan Airlines due to its cheap fares. Direct flights would also increase DIGITALIZATION CONNECTIVITY between the two countries. Pakistan has 18 per cent of Internet penetration and its geographical location, has a lot to offer to landlocked Central Asian states with crucial bandwidth access, which can turn Pakistan into regional connectivity hub for the entire region.

The Information Security Operations Centre (ISOC) at the INet Conference says that this is due to the fact that all other countries are landlocked and they depend heavily on Russia for their international Internet connectivity of any sort. Not to mention, these Central Asian countries have very low rate of international Internet connectivity which means Pakistan can tap a lucrative market and help Internet uptake in these landlocked markets. With its coastline and direct access to submarine cable landing points, low bandwidth cost and throughput, Pakistan sits in an enviable strategic position.

Pakistan has all the potentials in place to bridge the access to the international submarine cables and provide greater bandwidth to the region as a whole. Pakistan, therefore, can become a natural “Southern Route” to connect Central Asia to international networks.

The Republic of Uzbekistan is full of wonders and intellectuals. It is hub of tourism, natural beauty, human wisdom and above all multiculturalism. It has new become a rich country for tourists. It has unique location at the crossroads of the Silk Road which always connects people, minds, projects and civilizations. Tourism industry of Uzbekistan is also a developed and service oriented which always welcomes unlimited people with in and around the global to feel at home.

Uzbekistan is blessed with beautiful Samarkand, the jewel of CIS and the capital of the great state of Amir Temur focused a lot of attractions, which are famous today around the world. It has rich history, culture and traditions too. Its people are decent, lovely and courageous. They respect humanity, knowledge, wisdom, beauty and the last but not the least, cross culture and civilizations.

It is blessed with architectural ensemble Registan and Ulugbek observatory. It has a famous mausoleum of Amir Temur and Bibi Khanum Mosque has become city’s decoration. Its mausoleum was built by the order of Amir Temur, who is considered one of the finest examples of medieval architecture of the East.

Uzbekistan is also blessed with holy city of Bukhara. It is spiritual hub and center of peace, love and caring to all people. It has also historical monuments and places of worship. It is very famous and one of the hot destinations of devouted tourists visiting from South East Asia, Far East, CIS, MENA, and Africa. It has so many majestic minarets, mosques and madrassas, bazaars and shopping domes, havuz-pools and areas are witnessing 2500 year history of Bukhara. It is a city of life, joy, color, and brotherhood. It is the city which connects past with future.

Uzbekistan has also very famous cities like Khiva, Shakhrisabz and Termez. All these cities have ancient cities, cultures, civilizations and unique traditions. These have unique architectural masterpieces and have roused the admiration of ancestors and contemporaries.

Uzbekistan has introduced many innovative and modern concepts mainly ecotourism, geo-tourism, extreme, health and cultural areas, as well as mountain climbing, rafting and fishing for the international tourists. It categorized its tourism into regions i.e. in areas with few historic monuments develop ecotourism, geo-tourism, traveling off-road, in mountainous areas extreme tours. It has also implemented a project on restoration of objects of cultural heritage, construction and reconstruction of tourist facilities, the development of new routes of ancient monuments and picturesque places.

Most recently, the government of Uzbekistan has relaxed its visa regime and rolled back visa requirements for citizens of 27 countries seeks to explore Uzbekistan’s rich tourism potential. Citizens from 15 countries Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom will be able to travel to Uzbekistan visa-free for up to 30 days.

Moreover, a visa-free month will be available to citizens over the age of 55 from 12 other countries Belgium, China, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Poland, Portugal, the United States, and Vietnam. Relaxed Visa Regime between Uzbekistan and Pakistan is the need of the hour.

The Heart of Central Asia, UZBEKISTAN will reconnect via direct flights operation from Lahore the Heart of Pakistan to Tashkent from April 5, 2017. It will further strengthen bilateral relations in terms of greater socio-economic connectivity, investments and preferred cooperation in the diverse fields.

Uzbekistan’s Ambassador H.E. Furqat SIDIQOV in Pakistan must be appreciated for his hardworking to achieve this MILESTONE which to be utilized for greater commercial diplomacy, economic integration, and science and technology cooperation. Uzbekistan and Pakistan offer lots of untapped potentials which need to be tapped for the betterment of bilateral relations and trade also.