IGCF 2021 is a milestone edition that will focus on the historical experience of government communication, discuss its current realities, and envision its future, in addition to reviewing mechanisms, tools, and changes in public perceptions. Having accumulated global knowledge and expertise for over a decade now, the 10th anniversary edition of the annual forum is truly exceptional as it is being held against the backdrop of a pandemic that presented an invaluable learning opportunity for governments across the world. The proliferation of information on a multitude of media platforms during the pandemic has further reinforced the vital role of effective communication as a key pillar of crisis governance, the premise on which the IGCF was founded 10 years ago.
To be held at Expo Centre Sharjah, the 10th anniversary session of the two-day forum, will be held under the slogan ‘Historic lessons, Future ambitions’, and brings together 79 experts in communication from 11 Arab and foreign countries, to discuss innovative crisis management mechanisms and determine the future of government communication. The highlights include 31 events featuring
7 panel discussions, 5 inspirational talks, 7 training workshops, and 12 interactive programmes.
The International Government Communication Centre (IGCC), a subsidiary of Sharjah Government Media Bureau — organisers of the annual IGCF, outlined details of the packed 2021 agenda during a press conference held at the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park on Monday (September 6) in the presence of Tariq Saeed Allay, Director General of SGMB, and a host of senior officials and media representatives.
Addressing the press conference, Tariq Saeed Allay, Director General of SGMB, began his speech by emphasising the two facts that constitute the essence of IGCF 2021, the first being the role of UAE’s media professionals which has gone beyond reporting on the activities of the forum to become the forum’s partners in formulating its culture and directions. The second fact, he said, confirmed the importance of the readiness of media and communications teams to adapt to unprecedented transformations the world has been witnessing across sectors.
Allay continued: “We have all followed the sharp changes in cultural, economic and social sectors worldwide. The central focus of the 10th edition of IGCF is to monitor the role of government communication amid these transformations and measure its ability to lead and influence their results, drawing on the lessons of history to create a stable and prosperous future.”
He added that the inspirational talks, training programmes, discussions and live interactive sessions that mark the ICGF 2021 agenda will equip nations with the indispensable tools and knowledge to shape their future-readiness in the event of any crisis.
Allay was joined by Alya Al Suwaidi, Marketing and Special Projects Manager, SGMB, in making a comprehensive presentation, which detailed the programme agenda of IGCF 2021 to the local and regional media personnel who attended the press conference.
Participants from across the world will attend the region’s leading event that for a decade now has been exploring the role of communication in advancing development plans and paving the way for opportunities to forge true and fruitful partnerships between governments and societies to drive positive change. Among the most notable figures participating in IGCF 2021 are, Dr Nayef Falah Al Hajraf, Secretary General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf; Hessa Buhmaid, UAE Minister of Community Development; Omar Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence; Adel bin Abdul Rahman Al Asumi, Speaker of the Arab Parliament; Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of the Arab League; Philip Hammond, British politician and former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Dr. Fahad Al Shulaimi, President of Gulf Security and Peace Forum.
These eminent guests will be joined by a stellar line-up of experts in politics, communications, business, film and media who will be speaking across a variety of key discussions taking place at IGCF 2021. The names include Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former President of Estonia; Nart Bouran, CEO of International Media Investments; Prof. David Halpern, CEO and Board Director of the Behavioural Insights Team; Saeed Al-Attar, Chair, UAE Government Media Office; Dr Abdullah Al Maghlouth, Director-general of the Center for Government Communication, Saudi Arabia; Al Saad Al Menhali, Editor-in-chief of National Geographic; Rashed Al Falahi, first Chief Storytelling Officer, UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR); Timothy Armoo, Founder and Chief Executive of Fanbytes; and Maqsoud Kruse, Strategic Communications Advisor at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs.
Other participants include Sheikh Saif bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Director of the Prevention and Safety Authority, Sharjah; Dr Khalid Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams); Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority; Dr. Abdulaziz al Musallam, Chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage; Dr Rashid Khalfan Al Nuaimi, Executive Director of the Media Regulatory Office at the Ministry of Culture and Youth; Sir Craig Oliver, veteran British editor and media executive; Elizabeth Linder, founder of Facebook’s Politics & Government division and founder of The Conversational Century; Caroline Faraj, Vice President for Arabic Services at CNN; Sami Al Reyami, Editor-in-Chief of Emarat Al Youm newspaper; Mohammed Jalal Al Raisi, Director-General of the Emirates News Agency (WAM); and Adhwan Alahmari, Editor-In-Chief of Independent Arabia.
Other notable participants include Amjad Taha, Bahrain-based Regional Director of the British Middle East Centre for Studies and Research; Alastair Campbell, British media strategist and broadcaster; Lt. Col. Dr. Hamdan Rashid Al Tunaiji, Head of Crisis and Disaster Management Department at Sharjah Police; Nayla Al Khaja, Emirati filmmaker; Fatima Almarzooqi Head of Business Continuity Section at Sharjah Prevention and Safety Authority; Ahmed Al Mail, Director of the Government Communication Department, Sharjah Social Services Department; Ammar Almaeeni, Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, UAE.
A line-up of eminent personalities will deliver inspirational talks that highlight contemporary topics of strategic importance to the audience. On Day 1, Omar Farook, Bahraini social media influencer and filmmaker, will lead an inspiring session titled ‘Communicating with the general public’.
On Day 2, Dr. Mohamed Hamad Al Kuwaiti, Head of Cyber Security in the UAE Government will highlight the strategic importance of ‘Cyber Security’. On the same day, Timothy Armoo, Founder and Chief Executive of Fanbytes will deliver a talk on ‘New platforms… targeted messages’; Remie Akl, Lebanese writer and director, will delve into ‘Investment in youth’s energy’, and Ahmed AlGhandour, Egyptian researcher and Youtube content creator will present his take on ‘Delivering the truth through government communication”.
Prominent experts will present diverse and thought-provoking perspectives on a series of topics aimed at educating, inspiring and sparking the audience’s curiosity.
Topics under discussion on Day 1 of the event include ‘How to break the hold of conspiracy theories?’, ‘The efficacy of communication messages… A cross-disciplinary collaboration involving behavioural science and data analytics’, and ‘Nature of storytelling and function in discourse’.
Day 2 will feature panel sessions titled ‘The future relevance of government communication tools: An assessment’; ‘Government communication methodologies & their impact on collective awareness’; and ‘Who defines the rules of the game? Content platforms or creators?’ and Viewer versus Entertainment: Who is watching who?”.
IGCF 2021 will offer a strong framework for upskilling professionals through two training workshops held on September 26 and 27. These include ‘Podcasting: Reach your audience anywhere’ which will be delivered by Bassem Kamel, Senior Executive Producer- Radio at Skynews Arabia; and ‘Create and manage ‘winning content’ on social media’ which will be presented by Jawdat Shammas, Digital marketing trainer and consultant at UAE-based New Media Academy.
A series of training programmes will be delivered to industry professionals in the lead up to IGCF 2021. The sessions will be held from September 19-23 as part of the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC)’s COMMS programme.
Several interactive platforms and brainstorming sessions will be held on the sidelines of the forum and are designed to initiate conversations around integrating youth in the decision-making process alongside key stakeholders. The main sideline activities at IGCF 2021 includes ‘The Fifth Generation of Ideas’ as part of the Arab Youth Forum; a debate on influencers’ role titled ‘Infodemic’; ‘Misleading news in the time of the Coronavirus’, as well as a session for journalists, titled ‘Journalism’s prospects’.
Tariq Saeed Allay, SGMB Director General, unveiled a strategic 10-year plan of IGCF, announcing that the forum will mark a ‘Government Communication and Media Day’ every year, launch a professional license project for government communication, issue a refereed scientific journal in the field of government communication, and develop indicators to measure the impact of communication on the positive practices of the public.
He also announced that the forum would establish the Arab Network for Government Communications, issue a guide to crisis management and a second guide for professional controls and ethical standards in government communication.
During the press conference, Allay reviewed the recommendations implemented over the course of its previous sessions, including those related to educational initiatives such as the launch of the visual ‘Government Communication Dictionary’ and the introduction of a government communications course at the College of Communication, University of Sharjah.
He also highlighted the launch of the book, Government Communication Theory and Application, and the launch of the ‘COMMS’ training programme for students of communication and media. He further brought to attention the introduction of two new categories in the Sharjah Government Communication Award – Best applied scientific research in government communication and Best graduation project.
Amongst the strategic initiatives launched as a result of the recommendations were the Sharjah Government Communication Award, the Sharjah 24 news website, and the International Centre for Government Communication. The professional initiatives included the renaming of media and public relations departments in government organisations to government communication departments, and the launch of the Professional Diploma in Government Communication and Government Communication Network.
IGCF 2021 is organised by the IGCC in partnership with a number of local and international institutions. This year, the strategic partners of the event are Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI); Sharjah Broadcasting Authority; Sharjah Media City (Shams); Expo Centre Sharjah; Government of Sharjah; and Sharjah Asset Management.
ENEX is the international media partner; Sky News Arabia is the regional media partner; while local media partners include Emirates News Agency; Abu Dhabi Media; WAM; Al Ittihad; Dubai Media Inc.; Dar Al Khaleej; and Dubai TV. Emirates Airlines is the official carrier.