23 july 2020
Under the patronage and presence of His Excellency Prof. Hamid M.K. Al Naimiy, Chancellor of the University of Sharjah, the Conference Office of the Vice Chancellor's Office for Community Affairs, in cooperation with the College of Communication, organized the virtual seminar " the Future of Events Considering the COVID-19 Pandemic." This is with the aim of examining the impact of the pandemic on organizing events, hosting conferences, holding international exhibitions, and organizing activities in general in the UAE. The seminar covered several topics including how to use modern technologies for the success of events, possible ways to hold scientific events and seminars in light of the pandemic, and attracting experts and scholars to enrich knowledge in the light of social distancing and how to employ modern technologies to overcome obstacles.
The seminar was attended by Dr. Khalid Al Midfa, President of Sharjah Media City (Shams); His Excellency Saif Muhammad Al Midfa, CEO of the Sharjah Expo Center; Dr. Salah Taher, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sharjah for Community Affairs; Prof. Essam Nasr Selim, Acting Dean of the College of Communication and Director of the seminar; And Mr. Issam Muhammad Al Omar, Director of the Events Department at the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority; Prof. Madjid Merabti, Dean of the College of Computing and Informatics; Dr. Khairat Ayyad, Head of Public Relations Department at the College of Communication; Dr. Alaa Makki, Head of the Mass Communication Department of the College of Communication; and Dr. Muhammad Bin Musa, College of Communication; along with more than 300 people interested in the media field from inside and outside the University.
At the beginning of the seminar, the University Chancellor welcomed the attendees, and thanked the organizers of the seminar, he then extended congratulations to the United Arab Emirates on the launch of the Mars Hope Probe, which raised the name of the UAE and put it in the ranks of the global advanced countries in the fields of space and information technology. He then stressed the importance of launching the probe, its role in exploring Mars, and the importance of invading space for developing modern technologies. He then touched on modern technologies and their role in the current period and how to benefit from them and use them in organizing events, in addition to benefiting from them in developing traditional teaching methods to modern methods in keeping pace with the mentality of the current student and current changes.
The seminar started with Dr. Salah Taher welcoming the attendees and emphasizing the importance of its subject at the present time as organizing events, conferences, seminars, and most activities represents a challenge for many institutions and organizations. The seminar, he continued, will address this challenge and how to face it, along with setting a future vision for the form of events and activities in light of these variables in the world imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
His Excellency Dr. Khaled Al-Midfa, thanked the University of Sharjah for organizing the seminar, and organizing events with added value that are always in line with the position it took with the support and guidance of its President His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, then called for the necessity of reorganizing exhibitions and events through Investing in modern technologies and creating virtual digital platforms that rely on virtual reality technology and augmented reality, which contributes to reducing costs, saving time and maintaining business continuity and sustainability. He then reviewed the privileges provided by "Shams" to companies and their constant endeavor to provide support for talents.
For his part, His Excellency Saif Muhammad Al-Midfa reviewed the most important challenges that occurred in the exhibition and conference sector as a result of the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, which were affected by the economic sectors related to the exhibition sector such as tourism, travel, aviation, tourism and business, and low consumer spending, as well as the interest of countries currently in investing in the health sector. This in addition to the health challenges associated with exhibitions such as the application of social distancing and preventive measures, indicating at the same time the most prominent solutions to those challenges, through a study recently conducted by the Expo Center Sharjah in cooperation with GRS Research and Strategy, which highlighted several of the most important elements relying on technology to create a new concept for virtual exhibitions, linking economic legislation to support the exhibition and conference industry, and study the organization of non-virtual exhibitions with a traditional concept that adheres to all preventive measures.
Al Midfa also addressed the experience of the Sharjah Expo Center in dealing with this pandemic, and emphasized that the exhibition and conference sector is one of the most powerful sectors to the national economy through statistics that reflect its impact, which showed its ability to create 3.2 million direct and indirect jobs around the world with reference to the annual spending of exhibitors at about 137 billion dollars, and the number of exhibiting companies annually in exhibitions around the world reached 4.5 million companies, while the number of visitors attracted by these exhibitions annually is about 303 million people, according to the report issued by the International Association of Fairs & Expositions during the year 2019.
Then Mr. Essam Mohamed Al Omar talked about the experience of the Sharjah Trade and Tourism Development Authority, and about the current period and the future of events during the COVID-19 pandemic, and he said that the distinguished events and fairs that the Authority offers to residents and visitors, such as the Sharjah Lights Festival, the Sharjah World Championship Week, Sharjah Summer Festival, and other events, explaining that in light of this crisis, the Authority seeks to develop event plans in line with global health and safety requirements to ensure the success of events. The Authority seeks to develop the nature of virtual events and diversify tourism experiences throughout the year and develop current events to return differently and exceptionally in the future.
As for Prof. Madjid Merabti, he talked about how to use modern technologies and technology for the success of events and reach the largest possible segment of the public. Dr. Khairat Ayyad discussed ways of holding events from the concept of crisis management, where he dealt with the features of the crisis facing us currently, its economic impact and the importance of the activities. He talked about the alternatives presented about setting up events considering the crisis, future directions and the recommendations required in the event of the return of events physically. Then the seminar concluded with a comment by Dr. Muhammad bin Musa in which he talked about holding scientific events and seminars during the pandemic and how to adapt to the current conditions in terms of their organization, then he discussed the pros and cons of organizing scientific events and seminars during this time such as providing financial resources and increasing the number of attendance as well increasing the number of scientific contributions, especially from scientific institutions that have a weak capacity, in addition to attending more than one conference in different places in the world In a short time, this was not possible before the pandemic, and the increased participation of people of determination and those with limited mobility.