The idea incubator

Sharjah Tatweer Forum is fostering innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship in young people for the development of the UAE

Tags: EntrepreneurInnovationSharjah Tatweer Forum (www.tatweerforum.com/)United Arab Emirates
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The idea incubator Albloushi: STF creates collaboration between young people, government, and the private sector. (ITP Images)
By  Mark Sutton Published  December 5, 2016

All good initiatives begin with a good idea, and stimulating ideas and innovation has become a major focus for many government and semi-government organisations.

The Sharjah Tatweer Forum was established to provide young people with a platform to develop these ideas to support the growth of the Emirate. Jassem Albloushi, Chairman of Sharjah Tatweer Forum spoke to .GOV to discuss how STF is encouraging young leaders to bring their own ideas and innovation to tackling the challenges of development.

How was the Sharjah Tatweer Forum formed?

Sharjah Tatweer Forum was established in 2005 through an Emiri decree that was issued by His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. The forum is aimed towards introducing important global and local trends while also empowering young leaders and fostering partnerships between the economic sectors to reinforce Sharjah’s competitiveness in the UAE. STF’s framework is based on several concepts, which includes innovation, knowledge economy, entrepreneurship, leadership and support for innovative projects that serve as key tools towards comprehensive development, stimulating community outreach, volunteer work and CSR. STF also seeks to promote fruitful cooperation with major consulting firms, research centres and international and local universities in order to ensure the improvement of future generations in the field of leadership and management.

As a think tank for innovative ideas, STF presents itself as a key platform used to generate new, creative and entrepreneurial proposals that will drive the long-term growth of Sharjah. Currently composed of over 800 active members, the forum invites initiatives, activities, ideas, and social outreach programs to promote innovation, creativity and a knowledge based economy.

Due to its efforts over the past years, STF has been recognized by the Ministry of Economy as the First Innovation Center in the UAE and has been working closely to promote STF as one of the leading civil society organisations and as a prominent player in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Who participates in STF?

STF is a collaboration of youth and individuals looking to improve their capabilities and their platform to provide productive and innovative ideas for the Emirate of Sharjah. To that end, STF has forged numerous partnership agreements with various entities within the UAE and abroad based on specific projects or programs. STF’s membership is comprised of both individuals, predominantly UAE nationals as well as corporations and entities. Membership applications are available on STF’s website (www.tatweerforum.com) or by downloading the STF app or through visiting STF’s Office in Al Qasba.

Does STF hold events or programs for other areas of government or development?

STF’s signature program is the Sharjah Leadership Program (SLP). In its fourth year, SLP is the evolution of the Tatweer Leadership Programs, which started in 2006. However, STF’s programs vary in accordance with the trends that it is following and includes programs, workshops, conferences and events that support the focus and helps raise awareness as well as develop human capital proficient in the topic of focus.

Moreover, STF was the first entity to introduce Quality Management and Assessor certification with EFQM Belgium, Project Management Professional certification with PMI USA and Internal Auditors certification with CIA. STF has done workshops ranging from protocol and etiquette to psychometric analysis through its Professional Development Center, and it also hosts an annual retreat for both the public and private sectors and has conducted a Public-Private Partnership Program with the same aim. Furthermore, STF has also hosted a number of Ramadan sessions on the environment, tourism projects in Sharjah and the National military service.

How is STF using technology as a means to connect to its members?

STF has created and released a mobile application that allows members to easily communicate with other forum members, finalize their documents and keep them updated with the latest news and achievements of the forum and be notified on upcoming events and programs with the ability to register and pay online. Moreover, the forum is also active on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and You Tube.

How are Sharjah Government Departmentsinvolved with the forum?

Both the public and private sectors have participated in STF’s programs and events through nominating their best and brightest future leaders. Government sector senior officials have always been a part of the Annual Sharjah Retreat and have extended their facilities and cooperation. In addition, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah and the Honorary Chairman of STF has provided unending support.

How is STF working to make the ideas generated become reality?

The Honorary Chairmanship of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah has provided STF with a channel to forward constructive and innovative ideas and projects that serve the Emirate of Sharjah. STF has also had the backing and support of His Highness the Crown Prince and the Chairman of Sharjah’s Executive Council as well as the various concerned parties that have the ability to receive new and innovative projects and implement them as part of their mandate. Moreover, with entrepreneurial enterprises, STF has taken an active role in supporting its members to start their own businesses either through facilitation and support or through providing them with access to investment opportunities.

What events/initiatives do you have planned for the future?

STF has expressed confidence in its move to attract more members and to create stronger ties among them. In line with these objectives, STF has laid out a series of activities to help promote its members and its young leaders as well as continue on its path to provide certified programs that aim to empower its members to become prepared and able to handle the new global and domestic trends that the country embarks on and to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of their entities. These activities include a number of Innovation programs, a Members Retreat, a Sharjah Retreat, the continuation of our Leadership Program.

What other issues is STF interested in?

STF continues to maintain its interest in entrepreneurship and particularly the entrepreneurial and innovation eco-systems, which include the roles of government through support and regulations, the private sector, academia and research centers. STF’s flagship program, the Sharjah Leadership Program is also an indication of STF’s strong belief in developing the leaders of the future both in leadership and management skills as well as providing them with the knowledge about global trends.

While STF is a non-governmental and non-profit entity serving the UAE as a whole, with an eye on the GCC and globally, its principal interests remain with the Emirate of Sharjah. STF strives to promote the opportunities available in the Emirate, address some of the challenges, orient society on global and domestic issues of interest, provide a platform for the creation of innovative ideas, projects and programs, enhance Sharjah’s exposure and partnership with renowned international academic institutions and research centres and finally provide a hub for youth to express their ideas, aspirations and needs and be heard.

With regards to the sharjah smart city event held with SLP, can you give examples of smart city ideas that were created by the forum?

Sharjah Smart City was an initiative that was conducted twice; once as the main topic of the Sharjah Retreat in 2015 and once as a Design Thinking Workshop for the Sharjah Leadership Program. The Sharjah Retreat produced five concrete projects that have recently been compiled into a comprehensive report by STF innovation partner SAP who is also the facilitator of the Retreat.

These project as well as others, will eventually become the projects that SLP participants will work on during the six-months of the program to implement. The importance of the initiative beyond the viable proposals that come out of the SLP and the Retreat is the knowledge of the Design Thinking process and the mechanisms to initiate, ideate, study, prototype and execute innovation within organisations. It is also an opportunity for the participants to become oriented with both the global trends in this area as well as the vision and initiatives of the UAE towards becoming one of the leading countries in innovation.

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