SHARJAH, 14th September, 2023 (WAM) — H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council (SMC), honoured the winners of the 10th Sharjah Government Communication Award (SGCA), organised by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB).
A special awarding ceremony was held on Thursday on the sidelines of the closing of the two-day International Government Communication Forum (IGCF), whose 12th iteration took place in Expo Centre Sharjah and carried the theme ‘Today’s Resources… Tomorrow’s Wealth’.
A film presentation spotlighted the paramount importance of acknowledging and revering the efforts dedicated to the preservation of current resources, echoing the Sharjah Government Communication Award’s mission.
Tariq Saeed Allay, Director-General of SGMB, said, “Those familiar with Sharjah’s efforts to promote government communication to play a more important role in facilitating comprehensive and sustainable development, understand that this award embodies the emirate’s intentions to improve the standards first within the UAE, and then across the Arab region and the rest of the world.”
Allay noted that over the past 10 years, SGCA has worked diligently to establish higher standards in government communication practices while continuously striving to provide models that contribute to overcoming challenges in various fields, including economics, the environment, society, health, and others.
“It is our collective duty to formulate communication strategies that are at pace with changing information trends, technologies, public perceptions and aspirations, and global events,” the Director-General added.
He also pointed out that over the past two decades, the role of government communication has evolved substantially from being a one-sided messenger of the government to a facilitator of two-way dialogue and exchange between the governing and the governed.”
For his part, Mohammed Jalal Al Rayssi, Director-General of the Emirates News Agency (WAM) and Chairperson of the SGCA jurors committee, thanked H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, for being the foremost supporter of initiatives like SGCA, which serve the community and advance institutions.
Al Rayssi said, “This edition of SGCA has successfully anticipated future transformations in government communication strategies and practices. It has also broadened its local and global outreach. The award combines inclusivity and specialisation, in addition to diversity in communication practices, making SGCA a leading international platform for identifying the responsibility and power of communication in overcoming global development challenges.”
He added, “More importantly, SGCA has created new award categories to acknowledge the transformations being experienced by governments and societies worldwide, and reinforce the critical importance of recognising and rewarding new innovations in the field. The 12 Arab and 14 global award categories present the most significant models in communication practices and the most influential experiences and trends of our times.”
Al Rayssi revealed the recommendations put forth by the jury committee to develop and advance the award categories. He noted that the jury committee eliminated the Best Drama Work, Best Writer or Author in Government Communication Sciences, and Best Use of Artificial Intelligence Technologies in Communication to Serve Community awards due to nominations not meeting the categories’ respective criteria, and to be reconsidered in the coming editions.
The jurors committee also recommended strengthening efforts to organise specialised workshops for training communication professionals in making the best use of smart technologies. This is in response to the users’ need for modern tools and technologies to enhance their abilities in utilising these technologies. The committee also recommended establishing the “Personality of the Year” award category to honour influential individuals in communities and acknowledge their significant impact on communication efforts.
Moreover, the jury recommended excluding top-level spokespersons, CEOs, and chairpersons of government entities and institutions from the Best Spokesperson award category to shine a light on tier-two spokespersons, such as managers and department heads, to promote and stimulate creativity and innovation in the workplace.
During the ceremony, the SGMB launched a first-of-its-kind report titled 100 Innovations in Government Communications 2023. It showcases 100 examples of how governments across the world are experimenting with bold and innovative communications approaches to rise to these challenges. The report is a result of a unique partnership between the SGMB and Apolitical from the United Kingdom, a global network and learning platform for government with a mission to build 21st-century governments that work for people and the planet.
Jessica van Onselen, Director of Communications and Marketing at Apolitical, presented the findings during an inspiring speech during the award ceremony. She highlighted the key aspects the report addresses to support government communication’s employees. It serves as a source of inspiration for them to focus on communication scenarios within their respective contexts. This involves evaluating the effectiveness of proposed ideas, exploring new channels or technologies, and understanding how the methodologies employed can enhance the ability to influence and achieve desired outcomes.
Onselen said, “While preparing the list, we polled the Apolitical community of 200,000 public servants in 160 countries to ask if their government departments communicated clearly and creatively with the public. While 34 percent of them said only sometimes, 42 percent of them said they didn’t, showcasing the necessity of working to improve communication standards and adopt innovative experiences to achieve the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness in government entities.”
Ghannam Al Mazrouei, Secretary-General of the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council, won the “Best Spokesperson” category, while Dubai Customs won the “Best Government Communication Team” category.
In the “Best Integrated Communication Campaign” category, Abu Dhabi City Municipality was announced as the winner. Turning to the “Best Communication for Reputation Building and Management” category, Dubai Police Force was announced as the winner.
The “Best Campaign Celebrating Arab Culture” includes two sub-categories, the winner of the category “Best Campaign Supporting the Arabic Language” is the Sharjah Private Education Authority and the winner of the second category, “Best Campaign to Reinforce Arab Values and Identity” is the Holy Quran Academy in Sharjah. In the “Best Social Responsibility Campaign” category, the winner is the National Housing Company (NHC) in Saudi Arabia.
The “Best Communication Targeting Youth” category includes three sub-categories. The winner in the first sub-category “Best Communication Programme to Support Youth Entrepreneurship and Projects” is the Federal Youth Authority (FYA) under the Ministry of Culture and Youth. In the “Best Campaign for Positive Impact on Youth Awareness and Practices” sub-category, the winner is the National Center for Non-Profit Sector in Saudi Arabia. Lastly, in the “Best Youth Initiative in Government Communication” sub-category, the winner is the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention Youth Council.
Global award categories – Winners
The global award categories have witnessed outstanding competition and have attracted exceptional entries from the region. In the “Best Communication Strategy for Crisis Management” category, the winner is the General Administration of Strategic Communication at the Saudi Ministry of Defense.
For the “Best Innovation in Government Communication” category, which comprises two sub-categories, the UAE’s National Library and Archives (NLA), was announced as the winner in the first sub-category “Best Innovation in Government Communication”. Meanwhile, the winner for the second sub-category “Best Initiative within the Annual Youth Challenge” was “Team B” of the AI Skills Camp.
In the “Best Food Security Programme Communication Plan” category, the winner was the Department of Agriculture and Livestock in Sharjah. For the “Best Communication Initiative or Media Content to Promote Environmental Awareness” category, the winner was Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA).
In the “Best Communication Practices or Campaigns Addressing Developmental Challenges” category, the winner was Sulaiman Bin Abdulaziz Al Rajhi Charitable Foundation in Saudi Arabia.
The winner of the “Best Communication Practice in Volunteer Campaign” category award is the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development. As for the “Best Communication through Media Content” category, the winner is Bahrain’s Atnafas Creative Production.
Meanwhile, the winner of “Best Applied Scientific Research in Government Communication” is Ghada Saif Thabet.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), Qatar, won the “Best Communication Strategy Utilising Sports” category, while the “Best Positive Social Impact Driver” was awarded to American Judge Frank Caprio, former Chief Judge of the Municipal Court of Providence in the USA, whose compassionate rulings made him a global viral sensation on social media, earning him the reputation as “The Nicest Judge in the World.”
Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, holder of the longest space mission in Arab history, spanning six months aboard the International Space Station as part of Mission 69, was awarded the newly established “Personality of the Year” award.
During the ceremony, the winner of the “Universities Challenge,” organised in cooperation with United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), was also announced. The winning team was “Sawab” Team, from the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence.
The SGCA Jury members were also honoured during the ceremony for their efforts in assessing the nominated works for the award, followed by speeches by a selection of award winners.