Former Lebanese President General Michel Sleiman IGCF’s Guest of Honour

Sharjah-UAE: February 14, 2015 – Sharjah Media Centre, the media and communications arm of the Government of Sharjah, has announced the attendance of Former Lebanese President General Michel Suleiman (2008-2014) at the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) as Guest of Honour.

In his keynote address during the official opening ceremony, the former Lebanese President will underline the importance of objective government communication in times of crises. He will also identify the challenges facing communication between governments and the public, and the difficulty of conveying clear messages to the audience on controversial issues, especially when there is disparity in perceptions. In addition, the President will share his vision on the current events and challenges in the region and across the world.

Organised under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the forum is set to run from February 22-23 at the Expo Centre Sharjah under the theme “Specific Actions…Better Results”.

Ahead of the event, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Centre, said, “The International Government Communication Forum is keen to host some of the most prominent regional and international leaders and decision makers to introduce diverse experiences and visions that we can benefit from, especially in the field of government communication and crisis management. We are extremely proud to host General Sleiman and look forward to gaining from his rich experience over decades in leadership positions.” General Sleiman is recognised for leading Lebanon through a particularly challenging period, both internally and externally. His internal policy was based on establishing dialogue among Lebanese parties and factions by launching the National Dialogue process and driving concerned parties to achieve major agreements including the Baabda Declaration on Lebanon’s neutrality in regional conflicts and the initial strategic concept for the national defence policy.

He has also played a major role in improving Lebanon’s presence on the international stage. During his tenure, Lebanon headed the United Nations Security Council between 2010 and 2011 and established full diplomatic relations with Syria for the first time in the history of both countries.

Prior to becoming President, General Sleiman commanded the Lebanese armed forces from 1998 to 2008. This period was marked by major events, including the counter-terrorism campaign in Al-Danniyeh events in 2000, deployment of Lebanese army after the liberation of southern Lebanon from Israeli occupation, and the deployment of armed forces following the withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon.

His patriotic role was further demonstrated in supporting the role of the armed forces in consolidating national unity, protecting democracy and guaranteeing security and rights, especially in the events following the assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Al-Hariri and in facing the Fath Al Islam organisation during the Nahr Al Barid events.

A graduate of the Military Academy in Lebanon, General Sleiman holds a Bachelor of Arts in political and administrative sciences from the Lebanese University. During his military career and tenure as President, he was bestowed with several distinguished accolades and awards. He has also received a number of key to the city awards in appreciation of his role and efforts.

The upcoming edition of the International Government Communication Forum will include two specialised workshops on the accurate dissemination of information to the public using appropriate and effective tools.

The workshops will be re-run on the second day to provide government communication professionals, as well as students of mass communication and other stakeholders with the opportunity to benefit from the specialised sessions. Interested attendees looking to benefit from the workshops are required to pre-register on

The first workshop titled: ‘Communicating complex issues to a sceptic audience – case of the EU budget 2014-2020’ will present a case study to illustrate the complex issue of the EU budget with a view to improving public perception. The session will provide participants with an understanding of the timeline for the decision making process, as well as insights into the communication models prepared and how social media is used within the process. Ron Korver, Head of the Service for Science and Economy at the Press Unit of the European Parliament, will lead the workshop.

The second workshop, titled ‘Digital communications – future and challenges’, will be hosted by crisis communications specialist Donald Steel. The session will explore lessons learnt from Malaysia Airlines and other recent incidents, providing an insight into how social media is changing the dynamics of government relationships with citizens. The importance of speed in government communication without diluting the accuracy of messaging will also be highlighted.