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AUS Business Forum bridges industry and higher education to promote economic development in the region
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah, and President of American University of Sharjah (AUS), His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Bin Sultan Al Qassimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the annual AUS Business Forum and Career Fair at the university today, March 18.
The opening of the event, which is being held in partnership with the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, drew a large number of senior officials from the government as well as the private sector. Organized by the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs at AUS, the AUS Business Forum gathers eminent business leaders from the private sector whose presence allows for the sharing of bold, creative ideas on business development and growth in the region. As mandated by the Sharjah Ruler and supported by the university's board of trustees, AUS has been at the forefront of partnering education and business and is recognized throughout the region for playing its part in encouraging such collaborations.
Welcoming the delegates on the occasion, Dr. Thomas Hochstettler, Acting Chancellor and Provost, said: "We at AUS believe deeply that higher education and business can and must work in partnership to ensure a robust and prosperous future for this and succeeding generations. As a university in and of Sharjah, in and of the UAE, American University of Sharjah takes to heart its mandate to produce leaders in all fields of human activity, and nowhere is our commitment stronger than in educating the business leaders for the future."
Dr. Nada Mourtada-Sabbah, Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs, also welcomed the delegates to the event. "We gather today to demonstrate how business and university can partner to better sustain a diversified and vibrant national economy. This formula for the present and future must bring together the best in development and promotion of the private sector, with far-sighted governmental leadership, along with leading university scholars and scientists, who innovate," she said.
Ahmed Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also spoke on the occasion. He said it was a great pleasure to be in partnership with the AUS Business Forum. "The Business Forum represents a powerful platform for viewing models of practical experience and success stories of business. It is also a valuable opportunity for exchange in dialogue and consultation with a number of experienced industry leaders on many important topics and issues which need to be addressed."
"Given the importance and significance of the forum and the stimulating panels associated with the day, in addition to you valuable partnership, the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry is keen on future partnership with AUS," added Al Midfa.
Other keynote speakers at the opening session included Hamish Gordon Tyrwhitt, Chief Executive Officer, Leighton Group, Australia; Osman Sultan, Chief Executive Officer, Emirates Integrated Telecommunication Company (du), UAE; Arif Masood Naqvi, Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer, The Abraaj Group; and Thomas Lundgren, Founder, THE One.
"I am often asked what the recipe for success is. The reality is there no such thing as a simple formula. We must each find our own formula for success in life and business," said Tyrwhitt, addressing the audience. He said that the measures of success varied enormously and shared his ideas for some pragmatic foundations of success. These were: vision, which could be defined as the clarity of one's goal; and values, which comprised honesty, loyalty and fairness.During his keynote presentation, Sultan said change was a constant in life and that it never stops. "The world does not stop changing. Change is in our DNA. When change comes fast, we feel it as a disturbance. When this change is disruptive, we see it as a crisis." He added that being connected is becoming a basic human right. "There are new patterns for creativity, education, innovation and hierarchy models. I believe the digital age is an enabler of positive transformation in this region," he said.
In an engaging interview session conducted by Majid Jafar, Chief Executive Officer of Crescent Petroleum, Naqvi talked about the great scope and possibilities present in the region and spoke of a new world order which was emerging as new sources of economic growth lead us all to rethink our common future. He noted that there were vast opportunities ahead as well as challenges and the best way to define the way forward was to engage with stakeholders to create sustainable businesses and sustainable communities. "Working with academic institutions and engaging with our youth are critical to our regional and global success," he added.
In his address, Lundgren observed that a vision without a plan was just a dream. "To become a successful entrepreneur you need to be both naive and stupid and you need to be at the right place at the right time," he said. He said that we all had the same focus, questions, problems and dreams and that we all wanted the same thing. What was important, he added, was to determine what one's legacy will be. He urged the students to find their purpose and to live it and advised them to follow their heart.
Speaking at the event, Tirad Al-Mahmoud, CEO of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, UAE, said that this was an excellent forum which combined an exchange of ideas on current developments in economics and finance with a platform for young people looking to take their first steps into the business world. "Through our participation, we are encouraging students to look at business in a new way, to examine how a high ethical business model can lead to a fairer economic system," he said.
The opening was also attended by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Saud Al Qassimi, Chairman of the Central Finance Department, Sharjah; Amr Abdel Hamid, Advisor to His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah for Higher Education; and members of the AUS Board of Trustees Riad T. Sadek and Maroun A. Semaan; along with senior university officials, faculty members, students, and members of the media.
An art exhibition is also running concurrently with the AUS Business Forum and Career Fair featuring work by Qatari artists Ali Hassan, Salman Al Malik and Amal Al-Athem, and Emirati artists Dr. Najat Mekki, Ismail Al Rifai, Abdul Gader Al Rays, Abdul Rahim Salem and Khalifa Al Shimi. The exhibition is viewed as an investment in the cultural creativity of the Gulf. The exhibition is also part of the "Art through the University and Community Dialogue" initiative originated by AUS last year for the purpose of building relationships between educators and artists.
The annual Career Fair will be held tomorrow, March 19, and will provide AUS seniors and alumni with the opportunity to meet representatives from the private and public sectors interested in recruiting students and graduates as either full-time employees or interns. More than 70 local and multinational companies will be exhibiting during the event, most from the United Arab Emirates but many from other countries as well.
Both the AUS Business Forum and Career Fair provide an opportunity for policy-makers, scholars and business leaders to share dynamic experiences, professional advice and trade opportunities with tomorrow's regional and global leaders, at AUS.
Sponsors include: Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, Barclays Bank, STRATA, Mubadala Aerospace, UAE Central Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Waha Capital, Crescent Petroleum, Unilever, National Petroleum Construction Company (NPCC), Petrofac International Ltd., United Arab Shipping Company (UASC), Airbus, Xerox Emirates, Cummins Middle East, Alsayegh Media, The Saudi British Bank (SABB), Easa Saleh Al Gurg, Veolia Water Services and Technologies, The Chalhoub Group, Shell, Nestle Middle East, Hewlett Packard, Procter & Gamble, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Al Serkal Group of Companies, Mars GCC, Accenture, L'Oreal Middle East, Yahsat, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), Khalifa University.