Pat Lancaster reports from Sharjah
The Ruler of Sharjah, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, has announced that the emirate will launch a number of innovative initiatives, aimed at empowering the ordinary man and woman in the Sharjah street, by enhancing direct channels of communication between the people and their government.
Not much more than half a century ago the leaders and elders of the seven emirates that today make up the UAE, would meet with members of their tribe as part of a council, or Majlis, to discuss and debate, perhaps around a desert campfire, their concerns and aspirations. The tradition of the Majlis, which ensured the accessibility of the ordinary citizen to those in power, is a long standing Arab custom that, in recent years, has fallen from favour in much of the Arab world. These days, those in power tend to take advice from a series of experts and advisors, whose very position in society separates them from ordinary citizens.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of The 6th International Government Communication Forum 2017 at the EXPO Centre in Sharjah in March, Sheikh Dr Sultan announced new moves which hark back to the time honoured spirit of the early Majlis. These new initiatives, towards more inclusive government, which blend the best of ancient tradition with cutting edge technology, will be part of Sharjah’s ongoing efforts to achieve social stability and constructive relations between communities and governments.
The IGCF 2017, held under the patronage of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, focuses on the importance of government communication in enhancing dialogue among governments, institutions and people, and the significance of spreading knowledge and serving sustainable development in the UAE and across the world.
Over the coming five years the initiative hopes to help: “unite all segments and components of society”, in Sharjah, the Ruler confirmed. There will be increased direct communication between government, experts and academics and individual members of the community – including children, youth and the disabled – who will put forward their ideas for progress and change. In the spirit of sustainable development, which is a dominant theme of the 2017 forum, “Human beings – from earliest childhood to death – will be at the core of taking the initiative forward,” Sheikh Dr Sultan confirmed.