Roadmap for Sharjah's future

Questionnaires will ask residents for their opinions on health and education as well views on climate change and development obstacles.

SHARJAH.10th September 2008.Sharjah skyline.FOR STOCK. Stephen Lock / The National.  *** Local Caption ***  SL-sharjahstock-001.jpgSL-sharjahstock-001.jpg
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SHARJAH // Residents and "stakeholders" are being asked to look ahead 40 years, to help frame the emirate's future for generations to come. The Sharjah 2050 plan is the most ambitious in the emirate's history, an attempt to gauge public opinion and determine the critical issues facing people in the areas of technology, environment, education and health.
The project was launched yesterday by the Sharjah Tatweer Forum at the Sharjah Expo, which the Government formed to help identify and guide future leaders. As part of the project, over the next three months the forum will survey 1,500 stakeholders - including businesspeople, academics and representatives of the education and health sectors as well as government. "The research will help provide a road map for the development of Sharjah's young leaders and indicate the required focus areas for the future development of Sharjah," said Hussain al Mahmoudi, chairman of the Sharjah Tatweer Forum.
He said the research would move ahead in three phases, starting with the questionnaires, which would also be distributed to members of the general public at outlets such as shopping malls. In addition to multiple-choice questions, the questionnaires would include four open questions, asking respondents to describe their own visions of Sharjah's future. After three months, Tatweer officials will analyse and evaluate the information gathered.
The last phase, due to be announced in the second half of next year, will outline the Sharjah 2050 plan they come up with as a result of the first two. However, Mr al Mahmoudi said the process would not stop there. "We intend to have this report to be the beginning of a discussion about Sharjah's future and not the culmination of the project," he said. The questionnaires will survey the public on what they perceive as threats to Sharjah's development, with possibilities that include shortage of employment, political instability, recession, a lag in technological development and climate change.
Mohammed Bukhatir, the vice chairman of Tatweer, said the questions would be as specific as asking respondents whether they want the emirate to focus its technology on renewable energy or on oil and gas exploration. "As for the environment, we would look at issues like global climate change or global warming and what would the citizens do themselves to improve the environment quality of Sharjah," he said.
"We would also ask them what transportation they would think needs to be prioritised, from bicycles, solar-powered cars, electric vehicles, mono rails or bio fuels." The survey will attempt to gauge how satisfied the emirate's residents are with the way the health care system functions and determine where investment should be directed in future. Tatweer was founded as the result of a government decree in 2004 to help develop a generation of talented leaders among Sharjah's youth, people capable of taking on the responsibility of business development and fostering public-private partnerships in the future.
ykakande@thenational.ae