Academia, business sector need to join hands

Salah Al Shamsi, Chairman of Liwa Investment Holding, speaks during the event. Also seen, from left, Triad Mahmoud, CEO of the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Mishal H Kanoo, Deputy Chairman of the Kanoo Group, Dr Nada Mourtada-Sabbah, Vice-Chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs, AUS and Riad T Al Sadik, Chairman of Al Habtoor Leighton Group. (CHANDRA BALLAN)

A bridge between academia and the business sector is vitally important for recovery from the economic recession, delegates at the day-long first American University of Sharjah (AUS) Alumni Business Forum heard yesterday.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and AUS President, the event brought together business leaders and entrepreneurs to discuss ways to recover from the crisis.

The forum hosted 16 industry leaders who participated in a discussion dealing with four topics: the UAE as the epicentre of energy initiatives; business ethics in the light of recent economic challenges; developing indigenous leadership in the UAE; and succeeding in Middle East and North Africa during a business downturn.

At the end of the forum, the AUS Career Fair hosted more than 50 companies covering the fields of construction, oil and gas, banking and finance, manufacturing, telecommunications and technology. The event aims to offer a platform for graduates and professionals to learn current trends in a changing economy and to tackle the impact of the downturn, said Dr Peter Heath, Chancellor of AUS, in his opening remarks.

"One of AUS's continuing goals is to forge meaningful partnerships with core sectors of the external environment," he said.

Stressing the role that academic institutions should play, Dr Nada Mourtada-Sabbah, Vice-Chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs, said it was vital for universities to mesh classroom instruction with the culture of the working world. Such bridging is necessary, especially at this time of crisis, when support and solutions are needed by both the government and business sector.

"It is the university's mission to produce graduates and researchers for the private sector to find solutions to the challenges faced by the UAE as the country shifts to an information-based economy.

"Our graduates bring to their employers the most current research from AUS's laboratories along with the potential for building partnerships between their new companies and their former professors," said Mourtada-Sabbah.

She added that the forum was an "outstanding roster (sic) of the captains of industry and commerce to discuss key issues, which the private sector must deal with in negotiating the currents of the world economic downturn and recovery".

Sheikh Mohammad bin Faisal Al Qassimi, President of the AUS Alumni Association, also addressed the gathering. "If you think you are ready to go out there and make an impression, there are plenty of new opportunities for you," he told students.

Alumni Business Forum Initiator and AUS alumnus, Rashid Al Tunaiji, said that prior to setting up a business an in-depth market study should be carried out.

"The idea of the forum was to create a platform to build knowledge, share information and exchange experiences. Such a platform is very important, especially since many have opened businesses since 2001 without any real evaluation of the market," he said.

Mohammad Abdul Jalil Al Fahim, Honorary Chairman of the Al Fahim Group, stressed the importance of decision-making based on accurate and transparent feedback for achieving success.


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