During a ceremony held on Monday May 12 by Sharjah Media Centre (SMC), HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi, Chairman of SMC; and Osama Samra, Director of SMC, unveiled the recommendations of the International Government Communication Forum 2014 (IGCF 2014). Inspired by the speech that HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, delivered at the opening of the forum, the recommendations emphasised the significant role of the media as a key link between the government and the public.
The ceremony drew the presence of government officials, media representatives, and members of the IGCF 2014 team.
Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi confirmed that the third edition of the forum produced a number of recommendations that had been praised by experts in the various fields of government communication and from the various sectors that had been hosted by the IGCF 2014.
HE said: “Our goal is not to raise issues related to government communication merely for discussion, but to come up with recommendations and suggestions that can be implemented in the form of practical steps that seek to develop the local government communication system and share it with the region and the entire world.”
SMC Chairman pointed to the key recommendations that were inspired by HH Sharjah Ruler’s words, stressing the media’s right to freedom of expression, criticism and sources of information and their duty to respect the privacy and confidentiality of government sources.
This, according to SMC Chairman, ensures the continuity of mutual trust and the flow of information and data in a way that serves the interests of both parties and keeps the general public informed of what is happening around them.
Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi said that the two-day forum discussed the positive effect of government communication on the relationship between governments and their audiences. “We highlighted the role that government communication can play in improving a country’s image, and influencing its economic, social, and political future. We also highlighted the steps that must be taken to draw a road map toward governments that are more connected and responsive to citizens’ needs and voices,” he added.
SMC Chairman cited that the IGCF 2014 recommended formulating clear messaging for government plans and decisions towards creating a credible public perception. It also recommended switching to new government models and updating methods of government-public communication to ensure the delivery of the required messages.
“The forum stressed the need to create a partnership between governments and their audiences and to open communication channels with the youth and include them in government strategies and general policies. It also emphasised the need to communicate with the public via various social networks to learn about their concerns and demands and involve them in the decision-making process,” added Sheikh Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi.
He indicated that the forum confirmed the importance of strengthening bonds of trust and cooperation between government entities on the one hand and between these entities and the media on the other hand.
Noting that the role of the International Government Communication Forum is constantly evolving, together with communication technologies, SMC Chairman said: “We now
need to work in an extremely prompt and effective manner. We have already begun to develop a plan for an array of year-round initiatives and programmes, which we will announce in turn.”
Other key recommendations of the IGCF 2014 were presented by Osama Samra, Director of SMC. These stressed the need to invest in the successes, relations network, discussions, studies and recommendations of the IGCF to establish a new structured approach to government communications.
Samra affirmed that the IGCF 2014 adopted the directives of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to respect the ethics of journalism and the public’s right to know.
Pointing to the speech that HH the Ruler of Sharjah gave at the opening ceremony of the IGCF 2014, SMC Director called on TV channels to select the media content that respects the audience and takes into account their values and customs.
He asserted the significance of strengthening partnership between governments and the public to listen, understand and analyse the specificities and challenges of the community.
The IGCF 2014 recommendations called for creating mutual dialogue and capitalising on best communication practices between different governments; re-building internal communication systems to adapt to the sheer volume of data sent and received by governments every day; and keeping public information accessible to everyone with emphasis on transparency in communication. They asserted that a country’s reputation is the responsibility of every government employee, particularly the government communication departments.
They advised that government strategies focus on industrial, economic and cultural development, primarily on education, health and thought leadership.
At the end of the ceremony, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi honoured all those who contributed to the success of the IGCF 2014, including organisers, support committees and volunteers.
It is worth noting that recent statistics have shown that attendance of the IGCF has increased by 15%, not to mention the increase in media coverage of the event, both regionally and internationally.