HUMANISM FIRST

Sharjah 2020 | DIPLOMACY | INTERVIEW

The Department of Government Relations is coming up with new and innovative ways to connect cultures, build international cooperation, and achieve greater digitalization.

Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi
BIOGRAPHY
Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi is a member of the Executive Council of Sharjah, the body established to assist the Ruler of Sharjah. He is responsible for cooperation between Sharjah government departments and international governments and NGOs. Prior to his current position, Al Qasimi worked as a portfolio advisory for state-owned assets in the UAE. With a background in public sector strategy and investments, he supported the government in developing policies to achieve both financial and socioeconomic returns in state-owned enterprises. He is also the chairman of the Higher Committee for Digital Transformation of Sharjah.

How would you assess 2018 in terms of business prosperity and economic output of Sharjah?

Increasing investor trust and confidence was the main highlight of Sharjah's economic performance in 2018. This key metric has continued to drive the Emirate's economic diversification efforts by boosting the inflow of FDI across sectors. Sharjah's stature as the region's education hub and the availability of skilled human capital in the Emirate have also contributed to attracting more global companies looking to set up their Middle East operations. One of the Emirate's most ambitious projects in 2018 was linking the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI) to American University of Sharjah (AUS). This was seamlessly executed under the leadership of Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI. It serves as a significant step forward in the Emirate's efforts to establish itself as a knowledge economy.

What specific strategies is the Sharjah government employing in the UAE in heading toward a more sustainable future?

The challenge with the term sustainability is its abstractness. To really be able to measure success in the area, we need to break down the concept into quantifiable elements. Sharjah's regulatory environment has been ensuring that economic sustainability is driven by infrastructural and other investments, which are beneficial to our nation and our investors in the long run. Meanwhile, the Emirate is driving social sustainability by constantly upgrading standard of living and the overall quality of life here. Last, but not least, environmental sustainability is high on Sharjah's agenda.

How do you implement digitalization and machine learning?

The government of Sharjah, in line with the UAE's strategy, continues its digitalization efforts. E-government today is a thing of the past. What we are looking at now is digital Sharjah. The unique needs of cities in the Middle East will require a different approach to developing digital cities, be it innovation in building materials or how we collect data on our environment. Also, industry leaders such as Google, IBM, and Microsoft have been busy seeking to understand the impact of technology on culture. It is extremely exciting that this is something that will find a home in Sharjah in 2019. It has only happened here because of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, a member of the Supreme Council, alongside the Ruler of Sharjah's continued investment in culture over the past 50 years.

What are your main goals and objectives for 2019?

In 2019, Sharjah's international cultural exchange portfolio took priority at the Department of Government Relations. One of the many leading cultural efforts made by the Ruler of Sharjah in 2018 was to reinvigorate the African Hall in Sharjah. The purpose was to reactivate its role as a center for cultural exchange and a place where Africa's cultural diversity can be celebrated, right here in the UAE. In addition, our department will be pushing ahead to further some of the objectives Sharjah has set as UNESCO World Book Capital 2019. Some of our key literary, business, and educational events include the International Government Communication Forum, Sharjah International Book Fair, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival, Sharjah FDI Forum, Africa Hall's cultural program, and several more. With these events, our objective is to offer our visitors the latest and most relevant knowledge and expertise across these sectors. We are in a landmark year for Sharjah. All the work we have done over the years is meant to offer the knowledge of Emirati and Arab cultures to cities worldwide, as a gesture of friendship. Any opportunity for human exchange brings with it a need for cultural understanding. Our view in Sharjah is that every fruitful relationship—be it between two individuals, communities, cities, or nations—begins with cultural exchange. This is the reason for our strong focus on books and reading. Sharjah's understanding and practice of “humanism first" continues to deepen its unique presence on the world map.