FRONT AND CENTER

UAE, Sharjah 2017 | DIPLOMACY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations, on recent events, strategic delegations, and future outreach activities to promote Sharjah on the international stage.

Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Qasimi
BIOGRAPHY
In his capacity as Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations, Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Qasimi is responsible for the cooperation between government departments in Sharjah and international governments and NGOs. Prior to his current position, Sheikh Fahim worked in strategic advisory and performance monitoring of a portfolio of state-owned assets and has an extensive background in public-sector strategy and investments. Earlier in his career, he worked with both the private and semi-government sectors in areas of FDI, economic diversification, and competitiveness in the Gulf region.

What are the core objectives, functions, and goals of the Department of Government Relations?

The Department of Government Relations in Sharjah was established to provide a window of cooperation to Sharjah's international partners. As the center of culture, education, and innovation in the UAE, the Emirate's international reach spans the globe. The department supports this outreach through representing Sharjah abroad, welcoming international delegations, and partnering with strategic cities that share Sharjah's core values: culture, education, and innovation. These efforts are closely coordinated with the UAE federal government.

The Department of Government Relations recently received a high-level delegation from the UK. What opportunities for synergy were discussed?

The UK has been a long-standing partner of the UAE and cooperation between Sharjah and the UK is focused on the key initiatives of Sharjah's strategy. The International Government Communication Forum, held annually in the Emirate, recently announced the establishment of an International Centre for Government Communication, and we look forward to working closely with the UK Government Communication Office to share best practices in the field of communication. American University of Sharjah Enterprises' Research Technology and Innovation Park recently announced an MoU with Oxford Sciences Innovation to coordinate the development of innovation ecosystems.

What role does improving government communication have in helping your department, and Sharjah as a whole, achieve its goals?

The International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) 2017 highlighted the importance of government communication in achieving sustainable development. The Department of Government Relations became a strategic partner at the event to ensure that our international partners can engage with and learn from Sharjah's expertise. Former US Vice President Al Gore was a keynote speaker and highlighted Sharjah's role in coordination between the public, private, and academic sectors to support sustainable development. He also commended HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, on his pioneering efforts to protect the environment of Sharjah. The role of the Department of Government Relations is to ensure that our international partners can engage with and learn from Sharjah's best practice.

Construction on several megaprojects such as the Publishing City, Healthcare City, and Saja'a Oasis is underway. How do these megaprojects complement your goal of increasing Sharjah's visibility on the international stage?

Sharjah's sector-specific projects are key components to HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi's vision for Sharjah. They support our triple bottom line of economic, social, and environmental returns that are core to our future and provide exciting opportunities for cooperation and investment with our international partners. Our international visibility is further supported by our unique role as the center of culture, education, and innovation in the region.

What are your ambitions for Sharjah in the next few years?

Sharjah's international outreach will continue to be based on the values that we share with our international partners. There are exciting projects to share culture, exchange students, and academics, and promote business opportunities with strategic cities that we partner with. The Department of Government Relations looks to work with other cities that share our common values of culture, education, and innovation. These “strategic cities" exist as cultural and education centers of the world: Oxford and Cambridge (UK), Cambridge (US), St Petersburg (Russia), and Marseille (France)—the list touches every corner of the globe. These cities host Sharjah for a week—if not longer in certain cases—and we will share our culture, art, and opportunities. Reciprocal events are also held in Sharjah, where we host our international partners to show the people of Sharjah their culture, arts, and opportunities. All success stories are based on strong cultural understanding and we look forward to supporting this.