March 2020: Sharjah and the UAE have a rich history and culture, and more should be done to preserve it and promote it, was the central message of an interactive brainstorming session held yesterday (Wednesday) at the 9th edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF).
Titled ‘Investing in Cultural Communication’ the session featured HE Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations (DGR), Sharjah; and HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), who discussed the opportunities and challenges facing cross-cultural communication in the Arab world and called for innovative suggestions and ideas from youth, government and media organisations.
Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi said, “The question we need to ask is how can we inspire this younger generation to be interested in our history and our culture? How many people here have even been to Mleiha? We want our own people to get inspired and interested in it and the question is, if our own people don’t know about it and are not visiting it, how can we attract people who visit the UAE to Mleiha and encourage them to want to visit Sharjah?”
The discussion, moderated by Kuwaiti journalist and Talk Show Host Ammar Taqi, looked at tools and methods to communicate Sharjah’s culture with inputs from youth and a decision was made that a social media outreach programme would be established moving forward.
Al Sarkal added: “To avoid a difference of opinion between the public and media, one needs to understand how the global communication system works. Communication is a decisive factor determining any public or private sector organisation’s ability to strengthen its relationship with the public.”
Taqi said: “There is this notion, which is not true, that this region does not have a rich history or culture that is interesting and waiting to be discovered. Here we have a huge and rich cultural history and more needs to be done to bring this culture to the rest of the world, much like Egypt has done with the pyramids and the pharaohs. Governments have a role to play in this, perhaps through collaborations with Hollywood or through international events and exhibitions. This history is waiting to be discovered.”
Taqi went on to tell the assembled youth that it was important they got involved to learn more about this history and culture and became active in learning about it and promoting it.
A second brainstorming session called ‘Solutions for Achieving Individual and Societal Wellbeing’ featuring Dr Aysha Al Busmait, Director of the Government Communication Department, Federal Transport Authority – Land and Maritime, UAE; and Saad Abdullah Al Rubaiaan, Government Communication Advisor, Secretary General of Kuwait Business Council in Dubai, who moderated the session, examined the relationship between communication and well-being, and the role of communication in solving challenges faced by societies. The session examined ways of finding attainable solutions through vibrant and continued discussion with young people from all walks of life.
The talks focused on the next generation’s potential to become thought leaders, strategists and inspirational role models, and investigated communication solutions that can help solve six social phenomena that negatively affect the wellbeing of both individuals and communities.
The 9th edition of the IGCF 2020 taking place at the Sharjah Expo Centre between March 4-5 brought together 64 leading global thinkers, top government officials and communication experts from the Arab region and around the world, in order to highlight the importance of young people’s contribution in driving the country forward, and how this is integral to building sustainable development and peace in the modern economy.