SHARJAH- In a press conference held on Monday(May 19th) by Sharjah Media Centre (SMC) in Al Qasba Theatre, His Excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Centre and Osama Samra, Director of Sharjah Media Centre announced the launch of the second edition of the Sharjah Government Communication Award (GCA).
The press conference was attended by a number of thought leaders, senior government officials, media professionals and public figures in the UAE, as well as members of the GCA’s judging panel and a group of local, Arab and international media representatives.
At the press conference, the addition of new categories to the award and new judges to the judging panel were introduced. The judging panel now consists of Ibrahim Al-Abed, Director General of the National Media Council, the Emirates News Agency WAM and Head of the Judging Panel; Dr. Abdul Rahman Azzi, Dean of the Communications College – University of Sharjah, and Deputy Head of the Judging Panel;Ali Jaber, Dean of the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Communication at the American University in Dubai and Group TV Director of MBC Group Television;Dr. Sulaiman Al-Hattlan, Founder and CEO of Hattlan Media; Dr. Nadine Al Asaad, Journalist and Poet; Mohammed Khalaf, Director of Sharjah TV and Radio; Mamoon Sbeih, APCO Worldwide’s Managing Director for the Arab Region;Dr. Rajeh Al Khouri, writer and political analyst at Al-Nahar and Asharq Al-Awsat Newspapers; and Rawan Al Damen, Senior Producer and Director at the Programmes Department – Al Jazeera news channel.
HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi confirmed that the GCA, which was launched by SMC in accordance with the directives of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, was determined to achieve its vision in enhancing performance and consolidating best practices in government communication in the Gulf region.
He revealed that some of the award’s categories had been modified, while others had been added for more focus on the award’s main objective of raising performance standards in the government communication field. He said: “This year’s award is more specialised in government communication. It has new categories and more accurate standards that are set to facilitate the judging mechanism and ensure maximum objectivity in the selection of winners in each category. However, it has maintained its old awards, both selected and nominated, bringing to a total of 12 the number of its categories, which cover various aspects of government communication and align with the world’s best practices in this field.”
He further added that the organising committee of the Sharjah Government Communication Award invited more experts to join the award’s judging panel, forming a significant group of academics, media professionals and government communication experts. He expressed his appreciation and respect for this group, whose members are rich in experience and knowledge.
After listing SMC’s most prominent initiatives to improve government communication practices, including the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) and the Government Communication Unit (GCU), Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi said: “These are some of the fruits of the vision adopted by the Government of Sharjah and Sharjah Media Centre in developing government communication practices in Sharjah and turning related initiatives into platforms for learning, sharing and developing.”
He considered the GCA “a call for the development and appreciation of every effort to improve the relationship between the two partners: the government and the public,” confirming the award’s keenness to inspire progress and honour ambitions.
He added: “Our government communication experience in the UAE, although recent in comparison with other countries, deserves to be appreciated and honoured. It deserves that we document it to realise the amount of work we are doing and convey our knowledge to future generations too.”
For his part, Samra unveiled, in more details, the modifications to the GCA, which now comprises 12 categories. He indicated that submission for the award through its official website opened on Monday and would close on October 31, 2014. Winners will be selected and honoured during the fourth edition of the IGCF, which is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015.
Asserting the importance of the modifications, SMC Director Osama Samra clarified that some of the GCA’s categories had been replaced by others more specialised in government communication.
According to Samra, the GCA’s selected categories, which are allocated for the GCC area and originally included the Media Personality Award and Leadership in Media Award, have witnessed the addition of the Excellence in Government Communication Award. This award is given to the government communication department of a government institution in the GCC region in appreciation for its excellence in government communication, both internally and externally.
The nominated categories dedicated to the UAE have also witnessed the introduction of new awards next to the known categories applicable only for Sharjah’s government authorities such as Best Practices in Government Communication – Sharjah, Best Official Spokesperson – Sharjah, and Best Government Website – Sharjah.
New categories include the Best Crisis Management Award – UAE, which is given to a UAE government institution or department that dealt with an internal or external crisis successfully and communicated its details to the public; and the Best Strategic Government Communication Plan – UAE Award, which is given to a UAE government institution or department that has a long-term strategic communication plan aimed at the effective and comprehensive utilisation of social media channels, both traditional and modern, in the delivery of its messages to the target audience, including the media. The nominated categories also include Best Government Social Media Practice – UAE, which is allocated for interactive social networks of UAE government institutions or departments; Best Graduation Project on Government Communication – UAE, which is open to media and communication students in the UAE; Best Government Intercommunication Practice – UAE, which is dedicated to the government communication department of a UAE government institution that has a clear and effective interccommunication plan involving all employees; and Best Government Communication Campaign, which is open to UAE government institutions that are active and constantly interact with their audiences through awareness campaigns.