ENGAGING WITH THE PEOPLE

Sharjah 2020 | IT & MEDIA | INTERVIEW

SMC is guided by the vision of the Ruler of Sharjah, who believes effective communication between the government and the people is vital for the development and progress.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi
BIOGRAPHY
Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi is a member of the Sharjah Executive Council and Chairman of SMC, which oversees the Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), and Sharjah Media City (Shams). In 2017, he was appointed Humanitarian Envoy of The Big Heart Foundation. He also heads a number of Sharjah public and private sector entities in the Emirate. Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi holds a bachelor’s of science degree in business administration from Arkansas State University and a master’s of science degree in computer information systems from University of Detroit Mercy.

Since Sharjah Media Council's predecessor was established, how has the direction of the council and its main purpose altered?

Our constant endeavor and aim of the Sharjah Media Council and its subsidiaries, including Sharjah TV, SGMB, and Shams, is to remain aware and keep pace with all changes taking place in all spheres of the media industry. We have been working to evolve a unified information policy for the media sector in line with the UNESCO's vision, defining its goals and functions as well as norms to strengthen the industry's role in the progress of a cohesive society. Our aim is to help evolve a positive media discourse and constructive narrative in line with the UAE's moderate vision and policy guidelines. These primary visions and aims have not changed and will not change.

How do you see the media and broadcasting sector growing and improving here?

Although both SMC and SGMB are relatively new, Sharjah has a long and illustrious history of hosting vibrant media in the region. Indeed, the UAE's first Arabic newspaper was published from Sharjah, in addition to several other firsts in various fields. It is no wonder Sharjah was the first Emirate in the country to set up a media council entirely dedicated to serving this rapidly growing and changing sector. Today, the Emirate is home to several newspapers, radio and television channels, and news portals in various languages. Sharjah radio and TV are known for their world-class programming in several languages, and this is only set to grow in the future. Today, the nature and engagement of these media has changed thanks to the arrival of the internet, smartphones, and tablets. However, the media's primary job and responsibility to inform and educate will always remain the same.

What is your current strategy for communicating with the public, and what makes SMC unique compared to similar entities in the UAE?

SMC is guided by the vision of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, who believes effective communication between the government and the people is vital for the fruits of development and progress to reach the real stakeholders. Indeed, all our initiatives through SMC and SGMB are inspired and driven by the same goal and agenda: enhancing government communication and strengthening the bond between the government and the people for the progress of the nation. Our flagship event, the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF), each year brings together world leaders, government officials, and media experts from around the world to discuss how governments can enhance their engagement and communication with people for overall progress and stability.

How are you addressing issues related to effective government communication in the region?

It is a work in progress. Anyone interacting with various government institutions and officials would say there is a marked difference between the situation today and when we started this journey seven years ago. Today, in their engagement with the media, government agencies are more forthcoming, transparent, and effective. We have been stressing the importance of continuous communication and engagement between government entities and the media to deliver a uniform and accurate message to the media. As a result, whenever there is a crisis today, officials and government spokespersons no longer shy away from engaging the media and presenting their side of the story. This remarkable success is being recognized. It is inspiring others in the region and beyond to do the same.

What are your main goals and objectives for 2019 and beyond?

In 2019, we have our hands full. Our thrust and focus are on making the most of our success so far and further expanding and strengthen our presence in building media infrastructure and creating economic and employment opportunities for our youth. All our institutions, including the Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, SGMB, Shams and Al Majaz Amphitheater, managed by SGMB, are looking at exciting expansion possibilities, new opportunities, and initiatives. The sky is the limit.