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GCC Governmental Social Media Summit kicks off today

4116Government organisations need to utilise social media to ensure they are communicating effectively with the public, experts said.

How governments can react to new technology will be one of the topics of discussion at the GCC Social Media Summit, taking place in Dubai on Wednesday and Thursday.

Dr Saeed Al Dhaheri, a researcher and social media expert, said social media platforms are important in building relationships with people.

“I think social media plays an important and essential part of the world today, whether that be for government to citizen communication, business or even personal use,” he said.

“Social media is a source for getting up-to-date news and it is considered a two-way communication medium to interact with the government,” he said.

He said many leaders have adopted social media websites, especially Twitter, as a way announcing important news to their citizens.

“I think we live in an era of citizen engagement and this engagement requires use of different channels, especially smartphones, which are very popular in the UAE,” he said.

“This engagement with the customer is the largest effect that social media offers to the government and consumers alike.”

Dr Al Dhaheri said the government should utilise these tools to listen to the public to find ways of enhance services.

“So social media can become the channel of choice for the citizen to engage with the government and to have their voice reach their government. The purpose in the end is to improve the quality of services,” he said.

However, he said governmental organisations needed to adapt to new social media trends and react accordingly.

“It is important for the entity to understand where the customers are focused and then try to reach them through an appropriate channel,” he said.

Ibrahim El Badawi is the founder and managing director of Exantium, a firm that advises the government on technology.

He said it is necessary for government bodies to use social media because of its “power and popularity”.

The younger generation, he said, uses social media as “a standard way of communication”.

Social media has changed communication by being available “24 hours a day, 7 days a week” as opposed to regular working hours of governmental entities.

“So, old expectations of governments to be in the office or website are not as effective.

“This is mainly due to the fact that we have easy access to information and quality of services provided by other governmental bodies,” he said.

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