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Sharjah: Milestone edition of IGCF dives deep into core of human relations

Dubai - The two-day event is being held under the slogan 'Historic lessons, future ambitions'


Afkar Ali Ahmed

Published: Sun 26 Sep 2021, 8:21 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Sep 2021, 8:05 AM

The International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) is more than just an event to discuss and evaluate government communication; it delves deep in the core of human relations, the Deputy Ruler of Sharjah said.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi’s remarks came during the opening ceremony of the 10th edition of IGCF, which kicked off on Sunday at Expo Centre Sharjah. The event was held under the slogan ‘Historic lessons, future ambitions’.

During his speech, Al Qasimi noted that the development of the human factor can only be achieved by striking the perfect balance between socio-economic progress and intellectual and emotional development.

“In the 80s of the last century, when the region was undergoing rapid urban development during its post-oil discovery phase, the Ruler of Sharjah focused on building the essential human factor. Since then, the emirate has been on a harmonious development journey with an involved and motivated citizenry as its prime goal,” he said.

Highlighting the importance of the forum, Al Qasimi said: “Without communication, there would be no relationship between individuals and no shared values or principles - societies would not exist and nations would not rise.”

Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal, Founder and Trustee of the King Faisal Foundation and Chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, was the guest of honour at the forum. In his keynote address, he said that the world has become increasingly interconnected.

“This current ‘closeness’ of the world, which was made more prominent than ever with the outbreak of a global pandemic — one that doesn’t recognise international borders or distinguish between peoples or nations — makes it critical to ensure that we pave a path that leads all humanity towards protection and prosperity. These two are key facets of development that should be viewed not only as an end, but as the means too,” he said.

Speaking about the role of government communication in times of crisis, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the Arab League, said: “IGCF’s launch in 2012 was the outcome of a wise vision and part of deliberate efforts to form an important link in the path of change that we all seek. This development has an important significance as it came shortly after the 2011 crisis that culminated in the ongoing crisis that many countries in the Arab world continue to suffer from even today. The aftermath of these events has provided a motive to reconsider and rethink, since a large part of the problems were caused by a disconnect between governments and its peoples.”

To communicate effectively with the public, Gheit added that governments must address the magnitude of challenges facing society.

“Sharing this information places people and governments on the same trajectory, and reshapes political discourse based on the prevailing reality,” he said.

However, one of the main challenges of effective communication is the spread of fake news and misinformation.

Citing the example of and the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said there was a need for a charter to govern the cyber space to enable readers to sift facts from fake news and false information.

“Covid-19 led to the emergence of a host of conspiracy theory advocates and believers which had a negative impact on the efforts of several governments in combating the health crisis as the open and unregulated cyberspace became the reliable source of information for people the world over. This led key government organisations to create official accounts on various social media platforms to communicate efficiently with the public around the clock,” he said.

Tariq Saeed Allay, director-general of Sharjah Government Media Bureau, said the main aim of the forum was to address changes in concepts, tools and mechanisms of communication.

“A new era is now being shaped in Sharjah and the UAE. Together, we will witness the dawn of a new communication era characterised by readiness, agility, specialisation, and high efficiency,” he said.

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