IGCF 2022: Why Sharjah chose to be the first Arab city to adopt 4-day work week

The 11th annual International Government Communication Forum opened on Wednesday, highlighting the emirate's success in living up to its values and combining them with responsible media communication


Afkar Ali Ahmed

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Photos by M. Sajjad
Photos by M. Sajjad

Published: Wed 28 Sep 2022, 9:47 PM

Last updated: Thu 29 Sep 2022, 11:59 AM

When Sharjah became the first city in the Arab world to implement a four-day work week, the emirate clearly showed where its priorities lie: To keep families together in a rapidly changing era of technology.

As the 11th annual International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) opened on Wednesday, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi — Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council (SMC) — highlighted the emirate's success in living up to its values and combining it with responsible media communication.

In a keynote speech for the two-day IGCF, the Deputy Ruler of Sharjah pointed out how the emirate strengthened families and youth training centres as it guided communication initiatives to counter the challenges that emerge from a tech-driven world.

“Today, Sharjah is a Unicef-recognised child-friendly city and offers equal opportunities to the youth and persons with disabilities. We are also the first Arab city to have special care provisions for senior citizens and other vulnerable population segments. It is the first city in the Arab world to implement a four-day work week mandate to promote family cohesion, which we know fortifies us against challenges,” Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi said.

With its vision to promote the role and impact of government communication, “Sharjah wants to deliver the message that communication itself is the bold line that separates stability from turmoil, clarity from confusion, and guides us from where we are now to what we aspire to be", he added.

The two-day event themed ‘Challenges and Solutions’ was inaugurated by Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of Sharjah Executive Council (SEC).

It was organised by the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC), an initiative of the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB).

The forum has convened over 160 senior public officials, thought leaders and experts, who are set to lead debates and discussions to highlight how government communication can be used as a tool to overcome challenges and turn them into opportunities.

The return of 'Inspiring Talks'

Among the events rolled out on opening day is the popular 'Inspiring Talks' series with Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence.

For his talk this year, the minister focused on communication strategies for balanced relations between cultures.

Sheikh Nahyan enumerated 'four axes' on which the UAE anchors its relationship with other cultures.

It starts with acquaintance, dialogue, tolerance and full cooperation, he said.

“Our second axis is that there is an urgent need to develop relations between people in a way that deepens the spirit of hope and optimism in them. There is also an urgent need for opinions, ideas and initiatives that contribute to finding successful ways and effective solutions to seemingly difficult and complex problems. for a long time,” the minister noted.

“The third axis is our complete conviction that the civilisational and cultural gaps between nations and peoples can end if channels of development, dialogue, coexistence and joint action are available, which achieve convergence and cooperation among all parties.

"Finally, the fourth axis is based on the fact that the areas of developing balanced relations between followers of civilisations and cultures are naturally areas that encourage renewable ideas and beneficial initiatives, all of which focus on the progress of society and human development,” Sheikh Nahyan added.

The Minister stressed that the pursuit of balanced and equal relations between civilisations and cultures should not be limited to theoretical discussions.

“Our ministry and the entire nation are fully committed to the values of tolerance, coexistence and human fraternity. We committedly work towards establishing balanced and strong cooperative relationships with everyone in order to disseminate knowledge and raise awareness on civilisations, cultures and religions, and successfully counter extremism, racism, and hatred to achieve peace, and accord worldwide”, the minister said.

Tackling climate change

In another inspirational talk, Felipe Calderón, former President of Mexico, stressed the importance of moving away from discussing the impact of climate change to discussing the opportunities arising from green economies and sustainable development.

If government communication teams want to be more convincing, they should prove it with actions and not only words or promises, he stressed.

“Although world leaders made many promises on climate change, many did not see the light of day, due to a dilemma of balancing development, addressing poverty and creating jobs, on the one hand, and reducing emissions and addressing climate change, on the other. Therefore, at the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, we found it is necessary to start promoting sustainability models and projects as potential opportunities to achieve future growth in various sectors,” he said.

Calderón explained that the focus of green economy investment promotion should be three-pronged. It must include cities, agriculture and energy, and governments should communicate with their communities to turn the spotlight light on the opportunities in them.

The opening ceremony also witnessed an inspiring talk by former Canadian PM Kim Campbell, who asserted that good and impactful communication is characterised by not just what governments say but what they do.

Mohammed Abdullah Al Qahtani, world champion speaker and author of The Power of Word, delivered the final talk of the morning titled, ‘Influential Leadership’, saying that people can only succeed in their endeavours when they are backed by a strong, inspiring leadership that believes in them and their potential.

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