Agenda for IGCF 2014 announced

February 6, 2014 11:30 am

Sharjah Media Centre (SMC), the media and communications arm of the Government of Sharjah, today announced the agenda for the inaugural International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2014) to be held under the theme ‘Different Roles…Mutual Interest’.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the forum will run from 22-24 February at the Expo Centre Sharjah bringing together more than 25 regional and international professionals from the government, private and media sector.

His Excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Centre, shared the comprehensive agenda at a press conference held at the Al Qasba Theatre. The media briefing was hosted by Turki Al-Dakhil, an eminent television personality and journalist.

Day one of IGCF 2014 will feature two parallel training workshops for members of the media and government communication professionals. Donald Steel, specialist in reputation and crisis management, will conduct the workshop titled ‘Social Media in a Changing World’.
The second workshop ‘The Changing Role of Government Communications’ will be conducted by Dr Zahera Harb, Senior Lecturer in International Journalism at the Journalism Department, City University London.

The second day of the forum will commence with the official opening ceremony in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last ruling President of the Soviet Union and Guest of Honour for IGCF 2014.

The forum’s first session will follow the opening ceremony. Titled ‘Role of government communications and reputation management in attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDI)’, the session will bring together leading lights such as Felipe Calderón, Former President of Mexico, James Wolfensohn, Former President of the World Bank Group and His Excellency Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs/ Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs. Tim Sebastian, former presenter of BBC’s popular ‘HARDtalk’, will moderate the session.

The second session elaborating on ‘The relationship between government communication and social media activists’ will be headlined by Jon Duschinsky, Founder & CEO, The Conversation Farm; Dr. Sulaiman Al Hattlan, Founder and CEO of Hattlan Media; and Fadi Salem, Director of the Governance and Innovation Programme, Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government. Zeina Yazigi, popular TV host at Sky News Arabia, will moderate the session.

An interactive presentation by Nik Gowing, renowned television personality and senior news anchor at BBC World News, showcasing ‘Acute vulnerabilities of power, politics and systems in the new public information space’ will wrap up the second day’s activities at IGCF 2014.

The final day of IGCF 2014 will commence with a keynote speech by Kathleen Carroll, Executive Editor and Senior Vice-President, Associated Press (AP). This will be followed by a session titled ‘How are government visions developed?’. The debate will be hosted by John Kao, Chairman and founder of Institute for Large Scale Innovation; Simon Anholt, Independent Policy Advisor and Amany El Khayat, Presenter at ONtv. Veteran television personality Giselle Khoury will moderate the session.

The second session that will seek to add value to Sharjah’s government entities will discuss ‘What the public sector can learn from the communication experiences of the private sector?’ will be steered by Bryan Dumont, President of APCO Insight. Others headlining the session will include Marwan Zawaydeh, Chief Corporate Governance Officer, Etisalat; and Nart Bouran, Head of Sky News Arabia. Paula Yacoubian, popular Presenter at Future TV and host of ‘Inter-views’, will lead this session.

Alastair Campbell, Director of Communications and Strategy for former Prime Minister Tony Blair (1997 and 2003), will conduct a live one-on-one session entitled ‘Internal communication between departments/ministries of the state’. The segment will offer a real-life case study on the subject. IGCF 2014 will conclude with a general brainstorming session that will be led by Dawood Al-Shirian, a television personality and journalist.

Announcing the agenda, His Excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi said SMC’s role in inviting international government communication experts to share their experiences and case studies at the forum complements Sharjah’s efforts in supporting regional governments to develop effective methods of communication between governments and different stakeholders.

HE further stated: “All governments around the world, without exception, face varied challenges in communicating with the public. The reasons are largely attributed to the change in communication methods and the emergence of new, diverse and fast-growing mediums to express and share ideas. This natural evolution of communication techniques makes it imperative for governments to explore and understand new methods.”

Al Qassimi added that Sharjah Media Centre is proud to present the emirate as a global platform that fosters dialogue on diverse challenges facing government communication. The IGCF also seeks to draw out the perspectives of concerned stakeholders as a step towards initiating practical action for developing a region-specific communication strategy.

Al Qassimi thanked His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, for his continuous support to all SMC’s activities and initiatives, and for adopting a clear vision to step up the performance of Sharjah’s government communication employees.

He also thanked all the government departments, companies and media organisations sponsoring the forum, which includes Sky News Arabia, AGMC (BMW), Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI), Associated Press, Thomson Foundation, Al Khaleej Newspaper, Sharjah Media Corporation and Tim Hortons.

Osama Samra, Director of Sharjah Media Centre, said: “The theme for this year emerges from IGCF’s overall vision and is based on the recommendations and outcomes of last year’s forum. IGCF 2014 is aligned with Sharjah Media Centre’s ongoing efforts to develop government communications mechanisms for the benefit of public sector organisations in the UAE and wider region.”

Samra noted that “the forum has extended its scope of reach to become the International Government Communication Forum that seeks to address issues of concern to an international audience and is not just confined to the Arab world. IGCF’s global communication mandate has made us widen our search for government communication experts from countries across the world in order to create greater depth and value through the forum’s discussions. We have chosen each speaker according to his personal experience and achievements relevant to the topics that the sessions will focus on.”

While IGCF 2014 has adopted a new look and format, several distinctive features of the earlier format have been retained, such as ‘the green seat’ initiative that allows public opinion makers such as the youth and UAE’s students to get together with renowned speakers during sessions, and present their perceptions and opinions as representatives of their community.

This year, new modules have been introduced to create direct communication channels between the participants and the IGCF, allowing greater thought-sharing and transfer of best practices. Participants can put down their queries and suggestions either on a handwritten note that is placed on a dedicated wall, or via an online application, or even through a streamed video link using a booth specially made for this purpose. The main objective of these new initiatives is to create a direct interface and utilise innovative communication channels that can be emulated to enhance communication.

For media enquiries please contact:
Bahar Erdogan
Global Communication Coordinator
Media Department
Government Communication Unit
Sharjah Media Centre
Tel+971 6 5123456