16.3.1 Does your university as a body provide specific expert advice to local, regional or national government (e.g. through policy guidance, participation in committees, provision of evidence)?

Canadian University Dubai (CUD) engineering student, Ahmed Farrag, has been speaking to aspiring contestants of this year’s UAE m-Government Service Awards about what it takes to go all the way in the annual technology challenge.

Ahmed was among a team of three students from CUD who reached the finals of last year’s competition with their innovative application, SmartCart. Along with teammate and CUD graduate, Mohammed Baziyad, Ahmed was called upon by the office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to share his knowledge and experience with future contenders of the competition.

Addressing more than fifty students and faculty members from across Dubai, Ahmed gave an overview of the application that saw the CUD students reach the elite top five ranking in last year’s competition. He also provided students with some valuable advice about the importance of defining and designating key task, and managing the process effectively throughout.

As in previous years, the 2015 competition aims to support the UAE’s Smart Government vision by bringing forward innovative solutions for the delivery of Government services through smart technology. It involves a special category dedicated to students enrolled at universities in the UAE, to engage young people in the development of new tools in the field of smart phone applications, mobile websites and SMS technology.

Dr. Haniyeh Yousefpour has addressed a group of senior government officials from across the GCC about the importance of process-driven improvement in establishing and maintaining smart government and smart services across the region.

Dr. Yousefpour, Assistant Professor in the School of Business at Canadian University Dubai (CUD), was speaking at the GCC Smart Government and Smart Services Conference, held recently at the Ritz Carlton, DIFC.

An expert in the quality management technique, Six Sigma, Dr. Yousefpour was invited to give a presentation on the subject of continuous process improvement in smart government. As a professor of organizational behaviour and HR management, she proposes a people-centred approach to achieving excellence in smart services.

Dr. Yousefpour was among a line up of international speakers sharing their expertise at the 21st edition of the annual conference, which brought together executives, decision-makers and key policy makers from regional and global government organizations, to address the critical issues in smart government operations and infrastructure.

While the conference has been running for over two decades, the smart government concept has taken on a new dimension in recent years with the advancement of technology supporting process innovation, including the creation of mGovernment tools, where user interactions with government information and services can be conducted entirely through mobile devices.

According to Dr. Yousefpour, new technology provides an excellent platform for the smartening of government and services, but process improvements are ultimately driven by the people within the organization, and what’s more, it’s those at the operational level that often have the most insight into how process excellence can be achieved.

She said, “Often, a top-down approach is taken towards improvement-driven change, and yet it is usually those involved in the day-to-day delivery of services that are best placed to identify and implement process improvements.

“Technology gives us the tools to effect change in the delivery of smart services, but it must be combined with a shift in mindset, towards an organizational culture that promotes employee engagement in performance strategy and measurement.”

CUD was the official education partner of the event, which saw more than 600 delegates attend across the five-day conference.

Canadian University Dubai welcomed Mr. Nathan Tek, a regional spokesperson for the US State Department, who facilitated a conversation on "Strategic Communications."

Organized by Dr. Mohammed Abuhannoud, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, the event gave students and faculty the opportunity to hear Mr. Tek speak about his professional experience in the field of communications.

Mr. Tek outlined his role as an authorized Regional Spokesman for the United States government in the UAE. His function is to represent United States government foreign policy. Referencing recent developments in the Middle East, he explained how he spends a considerable amount of time addressing public opinion here and explaining various issues concerning the role of the US in the Middle East and further afield. He stressed the importance of building bridges between Middle Eastern countries and the United States. He also spends time in other countries in the Middle East training US diplomatic personnel in communication strategies and social media.

Mr. Tek received his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and International Studies from Yale University in 2009. He studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo under the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad Fellowship Program. He joined the US Foreign Service in 2010 and has served at the US Embassies in Libya and Qatar. Mr. Tek has worked in the diplomatic community for nine years.

He is an accredited Civil Servant appointed by President Barack Obama and serves his country regardless of which political party is in power in the US. He emphasized the need to maintain impartiality while representing his country’s position in world affairs.

At the end of the presentation, Mr. Tek took questions from his audience, further explained the skills and capacities needed for this career path, and described the challenges that arise with the rapid developments in the world of information and communication. He thanked CUD for its kind invitation and hopes he will return in the near future.

Dr. Mohammed thanked him for taking time out of his busy schedule and expressed the hope that this event would be one in a series focusing on communication skills.