Sharjah a beacon of cross-cultural communication: Irina Bokova - GulfToday

Sharjah a beacon of cross-cultural communication: Irina Bokova


Irina Bokova speaks at the IGCF 2020 on Wednesday.

Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent

Former Director-General of Unesco Irina Bokova said that there is no better place than Sharjah to speak about cross-cultural communication and the process of social inclusion.

Speaking at the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2020) on Wednesday, she recalled how the Ruler of Sharjah had contributed to it by institutionalising the Unesco-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture more than 20 years ago.

“The prize is given to two personalities, one from the Arab world – a writer, a creator, somebody who is working to promote knowledge about their culture; and the other, a global personality. I think this is a wonderful example indeed of cross-cultural communication,” she noted.

Bokova acknowledged that despite the cultural divides and differences, which are at the root of several major issues, the world offers enormous opportunity to know about cultures and people at the other end of the globe.

She said, “But our approach is not up to the speed of the enormous changes that are coming up with these technologies. I think we have to catch up and this is where hard questions about living together come to the fore.”

She stressed that there is need to focus on keeping lines of communication open and bridge inequalities by enabling people equitable access to technology and progress.

Bokova believes that storytelling can be a vital tool to promote people’s knowledge of cultural diversity, and enhance their sense of belonging to the heritage of other cultures.

“I think this notion of common space, of common humanity, is very important., This is where we are connected, and this is where culture and heritage are common space,” she said.

“We have to draw on the stories of the past to be able to tell the stories of the present. Under Unesco, we have more than 1,100 world heritage sites and there you see all cultures represented. It displays humanitarian diversity and if we don’t cherish this and protect it, we will not be doing justice to our ancestors as well as to our future generations.”

She also noted that culture and creativity go hand in hand. Science cannot progress without the backing of culture, and this is where education becomes critical.

“It is about the fact that we are really global citizens and why intercultural knowledge is so important if we wish to live in peace,” she said.

This year’s IGCF is hosting several interactive platforms and brainstorming sessions that serve to emphasise the potential of the youth to become thought leaders, strategists and inspirational role models.

In the presence of 64 leading global thinkers, top government officials and communication experts from the Arab region and around the world, the region’s leading forum on government communication aims to highlight how young people’s contribution is an important asset in driving the country forward, and integral to building sustainable development and peace in the modern economy.

IGCF 2020’s Researchers’ Platform aims to provide knowledge and information on the various aspects of governmental communication based on research, studies, books, references and internationally documented best practices.

It serves as a free platform for media and communication students of UAE universities to discuss their master’s theses and graduation projects on the various aspects of government communication, and also hosts top academics and government communication experts at local and federal entities to discuss the different aspects of government communication and outline their institutional experience in this sector through research papers, studies and worksheets.

In collaboration with the Arab Youth Centre and Rubu’ Qarn Foundation for Creating Future Leaders and Innovators, IGCF 2020 will host an interaction between the UAE’s youth and the session’s moderators, Mariam Saeed Al-Naqbi, a Scriptwriter and Presenter, Sharjah Broadcasting Corporation/ Sharqiya Kalba TV; and Marwan Al-Shehhi, TV Presenter at Sama Dubai TV to highlight the role of government communication in supporting and stimulating the aspirations of the youth.

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