2014 is Sharjah’s year as Islamic Cultural Capital, and it will be a busy one for Sheikh Sultan

Sheikh Sultan plans 24 projects to mark Sharjah being named Arab culture capital and also hopes to develop emirate government's communication with the media.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, chairman of the Sharjah Media Centre, faces a full year leading the executive committee overseeing the emirate’s term as Islamic Cultural Capital.  Antonie Robertson / The National
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SHARJAH // Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi has had a busy year, and that is not about to change as 2014 approaches.

The chairman of the Sharjah Media Centre has also been given that position on the executive committee for the emirate’s year as the Islamic Cultural Capital for the Arab region.

Sharjah holds the title for 2014 and has as its centrepiece a Dh140 million man-made island.

“We had a lot to do this year and there is more to do next year,” said Sheikh Sultan. “Most of what we did this year will still need a lot of our efforts to be sustained next year.”

He said 24 projects had been scheduled for the year, including Al Majaz Island and a 4,500-seat amphitheatre. Some other projects will be announced throughout the year.

Sheikh Sultan wants all festival places to have a theme that reflects the emirate as an Islamic Cultural Capital, starting with the Sharjah Light Festival in February.

He is also leading a campaign to increase communication between government departments and the public through the media.

Sheikh Sultan said he wanted to change stereotypes about the emirate and show that it is media-friendly, an objective reflected in the opening of the Sharjah Media Centre in 2011.

“To serve its ultimate purpose of highlighting the emirate’s progress and development as the region’s media and cultural hub, SMC facilitates a dialogue for and with Sharjah’s government institutions and the media to strengthen Sharjah’s status among the Arab and international media,” he said.

In the past two years, SMC has provided communications and media training to government employees and students.

“The centre aimed at introducing Sharjah as an example and a platform for government communication,” said Sheikh Sultan.

“As part of this objective, it launched two main initiatives to support transparency and freedom of the media, and blur boundaries between government authorities and media institutions, with the aim of easing communication and building a mutual working relationship.”

Among these is the International Government Communication Forum, which is held annually and aims to build a platform for barrier-free communication between government bodies and stakeholders.

And the Sharjah Government Communication Award this month recognised the achievements of outstanding individuals in media and communications.