Sharjah Media Centre announces two-day agenda for first Government Communication Forum

The first Government Communication Forum to be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, will seek to benchmark the emirate's government communication standards against global best practices and examine ways for infusing fresh methodologies into the communication mechanism among government departments in Sharjah.

The forum's objective is in line with the overarching mandate of Sharjah Media Centre, the communications arm of the Sharjah government and the organisers of the two-day event.

Scheduled to be held from 26-27 February at Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Government Communication Forum will witness dignitaries and experts in government communication as well as top-tier regional and international media headlining the workshops and panel discussions. Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, will deliver the keynote speech during the opening session of the forum. 

The first 'Government Communication Forum' will include eight sessions and two workshops. Globally accredited certificates will be given away to participants of the workshops comprising mid-managerial executives from the Sharjah government departments.

Osama Samra, Director, Sharjah Media Centre, said: "The first edition of the forum will deliberate upon a series of topics that focus on best practices for upgrading intra-departmental as well as external communication among government entities in Sharjah. Towards this purpose, the forum will highlight the latest tools, skills and applications to practitioners and professionals, besides offering government institutions in Sharjah with a guideline for improving its standards."

Day-1 of the Government Communication Forum will open with a session on 'Management of Risks and Crisis in Government Media Communications' that will include panelists Dr. Nabil Al Khatib, Executive News Director at Al Arabiya, and Brad Staples, President of APCO International, Chair of Global Development. In addition to outlining the strategies and mechanisms for risk analysis and crisis, the two industry thought-leaders will analyse best ways to build an integrated risk management system as a proactive approach to managing risks. The session will also tackle participants' professional skills in crisis management and throw light on how to transform potential crises into real opportunities.

Dr Nabil Al-Sharif, Member of the Jordanian Senate, and Dr. Rafic Chlala, former Press Advisor to Presidential Office, Government of Lebanon, will lead the second session on 'Spokespersons in Government Institutions - Fundamentals and Skills'. Substantiating their viewpoints with case studies and real-time experiences, the experts will underline the competencies required for communication practitioners and reiterate the importance of continuous training for the purpose of stepping up the quality of government services.

Dr. Ahmad Al Dbeiban, Plenipotentiary Minister of the Secretariat General for the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, and Firas Al-Khatib, Media, PR and Information Officer, UNESCO, Beirut Office, will headline the third session on the opening day of the forum. Titled 'Coordination Strategies of Communication Efforts among Government Institutions', the distinguished speakers will address decision makers in governmental departments and review international communication models that meet the gap for speed, quantity and accuracy, as well as ensure seamless coordination between organizational units.

Samir Al-Baha'i, Policy and Government Affairs Manager of MENA at Google, will talk about the future of 'Digital Media in the Government Sector' during the fourth session. The session comes at a time when industry experts are expecting digital content to be responsible for 17% of the total media spending (around $1.4bn) in the UAE. Digital commercial ads are expected to increase by 3% to 5% and reach 22% of total commercials by early next year. Against such projections, the session will highlight the use of social media outlets and e-commerce practices as well as analyse emerging trends in the sector. 

The first day of the forum will conclude with a workshop led by international trainer Arwell Owen. The segment will focus on 'Skills of Dealing with Media for Senior Officials and Heads of Institutions'. It will primarily examine how public sector employees can develop their media-relationship skills. It will also look at best practices for building synergy with regional and global business leaders for the purpose of enhancing the government's image and manage its reputation. 

The second day of the Government Communication Forum will also host four sessions. The agenda will kick-off with a segment on 'Case Study of the Governmental Awareness Campaigns in the US and UK'. Sue Wolstenholme, elected president of 2013 for CIPR, UK, and Gerard Francis, CEO of the Public Relations Society of America, will lead this session. 

Ilker Ayci, President of Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey (ISPAT), and His Excellency Abdul Qadir Al Sheikh, Minister of Information, Malaysia, will take the podium in the second session. Both speakers will share Turkey and Malaysia's experience in developing the government media sector. 

Turki Al-Dakhil, founder and owner of Dubai-based Al Mesbar research and study centre, along with Zaven Kouyoumdjian, Lebanese TV celebrity, talk show host and producer of acclaimed programme 'Sirée Wenfatahet', will highlight the 'Role of Broadcast Media in Supporting Government Institutions' Vision of Social Development' during the third session on day-two of the event.

'The Role of Caricatures in Correcting Misconceptions and Raising Levels of Awareness' will be discussed during the fourth session that will draw out the perspectives of Omaya Juha, Chairman of Juhatoon, Rasha Mahdi, Egypt's first female cartoonist, and Emad Hajjaj, well-known cartoonist in Jordan and the Middle East. 

Nicolas Georges, Founder of Reputation Institute, will host a workshop on 'Organizing the Government's Image and Managing its Reputation'. This session will conclude the forum's agenda on the second day and bring the two-day event to a close.