The Sharjah Ruler emphasised that accountability for the success of public communications lies with multiple stakeholders.
Delivering communication for the public has been at the heart of Sharjah’s 40-year cultural project, said His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
Speaking at the opening of the ninth edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2020) on Wednesday in Sharjah, Sheikh Sultan said: “Forty years have lapsed since Sharjah’s cultural project began. This project hasn’t been written but rather has been in the form of oral guidance. I haven’t written a single letter instructing people on what to do. Our leading cultural, scientific and artistic developments and achievements – this global forum, for instance – have been outcomes of participatory dialogue and open government-citizenry communication. I call this ‘popular communication’.
“Communication for the public is supposed to serve people. Its objectives are, therefore, very different from communication adopted by entities not serving people. It must be directed towards informing people, encouraging dialogue, bringing positive changes in fields of health, education and security, and making the delivery of public services more transparent and effective through the use of right channels of communications,” he added.
The Sharjah Ruler emphasised that accountability for the success of public communications lies with multiple stakeholders from across various sectors, not just the government. “People in charge of internal and external communications in companies, journalists, PR professionals, website designers and media figures will together carry out these responsibilities,” he pointed out.
“Communication’s core function is that of an enabler. Good communication accompanies people to be able to enjoy various public services and enhance their lives. Sharjah has achieved this,” he added.
Government communication needs to be participatory
“Why is there a pressing need to transform the role of government communication from a one-way message delivery service to a two-way and participatory process,” asked Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council (SMC), noting that the multifaceted challenges governments face around the world in health, environment, security and cultural sectors because of media spreading misinformation or fabricated news has affected the trust between them and their people.
“Through our years of research, we have sufficiently established that communication is a key enabler of trust between governments and the governed, and a strategic driver of sustainable development. We need to incorporate mechanisms that will generate faster responses from government to the public, between people from different cultures and between governments, globally.
“We in Sharjah are committed to creating more opportunities for interactions between the government and our people, and strengthen the culture of ‘holistic communication’. This is why, at this forum, you will hear from experts and stakeholders across sectors and from a diversity of fields, not just from government representatives,” Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed added.
In a recorded message played at the event, Prince El Hassan bin Talal, president of Arab Thought Forum (ATF), said the forum plays an instrumental role in strengthening stability across the Arab region.
“We are witnessing the post-communication age, which aims to envision the future through a review and assimilation of the past. The Internet has become powerful enough to cross borders, take down national powers and overthrow local traditional laws. It is redefining concepts of fear, love, hate, sympathy, learning, education, knowledge, success and failure.”
He emphasised that the future of post-communication depends on the ability to think, act and communicate in a different way, as well as to have a global perspective and a universal culture.
The two-day forum will conclude today.