SHARJAH, H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of H.H. the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, on Monday opened the 12th Sharjah Arab Children Forum (SACF) at Al Qasimia University, which is aimed to give children the opportunity to explore the strong brotherly and sisterly ties binding them and deepen their sense of belonging to one nation that shares a single language and culture.
SACF 2016 also seeks to develop children’s sense of social responsibility and to solidify their belief that they are capable of working together in drawing a clear roadmap leading to innovation and success. Held under the title: ‘Hear us, We are the Future,’ SACF 2016, the forum is organised by Sharjah Children Centre – a subsidiary of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs – and will run until April 3.
Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi in her speech said: “Wars and regretful events in the Arab and Muslim world are created by people who have lost sight to righteousness. They are following a path of malice, hatred, humiliation and indignity, because they do not want other people to enjoy freedom, love and peace. They were innocent children before they grew up choosing a life of crime and chaos. They did not learn how to live a happy and peaceful life. They learned only how to hate, not to love. They learned how to be inhumane instead of developing as their own sense of humanity such as feeling the pain of others.”
Addressing Arab children participating in the forum, Sheikha Jawaher said, “I would like to welcome you to Sharjah, the city where we strive to nurture children and prepare them well for their future roles. This is because of our belief that there is no future without men and women who are prepared to carry out their responsibilities and their duties to the highest level of performance. I see in your eyes a scene that reflects our old Arab dream, which is renewed whenever we face challenges. This is the dream of Arab unity. Today, you have come together here in Sharjah. You all share the same features and characteristics that make you brothers and sisters.”
She added: “Looking at you all gathered here today I see innocence, talent and the love of knowledge on your faces. I am sure that the future will be more prosperous with your strong personalities, compassionate hearts and great minds that are able to differentiate between good and evil.”
Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi underlined the need to launch initiatives for children so as to enable them to show their potential talents, creative abilities and innovations, especially since today’s children differ from those of previous generations due to the technological advancements and the information revolution that keep them informed about global changes and latest developments.
She said that children in the 21st century are empowered with modern technology that allows them to search for answers, develop their intellectual abilities and expand their scientific knowledge. “Sharjah continues to extend bridges of cooperation and partnership with the competent authorities in Arab countries with the aim of exchanging expertise regarding nurturing children on sound grounds to instil noble values and virtues in Arab children,” Sheikha Jawaher emphasised.
“What would you like to say? We are all ears and will listen to you, our dear children,” said Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher, adding; “You must be proactive in acquiring knowledge, science and culture and using language to express what you have learnt.”
She urged children to be empowered with good conduct and behaviour and to respect their parents, teachers and older people, embracing the culture of dialogue and the art of listening when dealing with people.
Sheikha Jawaher encouraged children to express their opinions and make their suggestions about developing ideals, especially those that concern them, and to commit themselves to being assertive. She advised them to learn from Sharjah’s experience in providing training programmes for children to become strong, influential and well-spoken, as is the case with the ‘Children’s Shura Council’ where the child can express their views and ideas before decision makers and influential figures in society. “Such a programme helps stimulate children to acquire fluency in their speech and tact in their dialogue. It enables them to express their views and to be honest, making officials listen to them and believe in what they say,” Sheikha Jawaher noted.
Sheikha Jawaher concluded by saying: “You are our future as we will pass on the banner to you so as to follow in the footsteps of your forefathers who shouldered great responsibilities during tough times.” Her Highness asked Allah Almighty to guide them to the straight path and enable them to deal with future challenges. Sheikha Jawaher wished the gathered children all the success in their lives and hoped that they would grow up to hold influential and leading positions and serve their societies and their respective nations.
Reem BinKaram, Head of the Organising Committee of the Sharjah Arab Children Forum and Director of the Sharjah Children Centres; praised H.H. Sheikha Jawaher’s support for the Sharjah Children Centres since their establishment more than 30 years ago and the important role they have played in the realisation of Sharjah’s vision, which aims to develop children’s talents and abilities through the Sharjah Arab Children Forum. Over the years SACF has become an important event that aims to prepare children properly and ignite within them the spirit of overcoming challenges in order to become more effective members of society and to be able to innovate, create and excel in their future lives.
She pointed out that the forum reflects the emirate’s successful vision for preparing and training children as well as developing their culture and sharpening their skills to ensure a better future for them.
BinKaram paid rich tribute to H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, for his immense support for children in the UAE and Sharjah in particular. This generous assistance, she said, has greatly contributed to developing the forum, leading to the participation of a larger number of Emirati children, as evidenced by the participation of 81 Emirati children in the forum this year – the largest number participating to date.
“Through this forum we aim to enhance children’s leadership skills and encourage them to adopt innovation as an integral approach in their lives, in the process consolidating unity. We also seek to strengthen inter-communication and the exchange of experiences in them, thereby qualifying them to transfer the values and creative skills they acquire to their own countries,” BinKaram clarified.
Jameela Al Zaabi, Speaker of the Sharjah Children Shura Council in its 14th session, praised the directives of the UAE’s wise leadership and its keen interest in establishing children’s centres and institutions, most notably the Sharjah Children Shura Council, the first-of-its kind in the Arab world and one that aims to encourage Emirati children to take an active part in public life. The council aims to consolidate children’s sense of belonging to their country and nation, reinforcing the culture of dialogue, consultation and awareness about national issues among children and achieving the leadership’s vision for the creation of future leaders.
Al Zaabi said: “At the Sharjah Arab Children Forum we embrace your talents and will work closely with you so that you can make the best use of this platform in acquiring new skills.” She urged Arab children to work collectively in order to come up with outcomes that benefit their communities and countries and become role models for other Arab children.
SACF 2016 brings together more than 120 Arab children from 11 Arab countries, namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Palestine, Sudan, Jordan, Mauritania and Comoros Islands and the UAE, which is participating with 81 children from various Educational institutions, children’s centres in Sharjah and the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services.