American University of Sharjah (AUS) forum 'The Next Lap: Future of Knowledge and Education Forum', which took place at the University's campus under the auspices of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah, and Founder of the American University of Sharjah, convened local and international policymakers, thought leaders, AUS alumni and scholars to share insights, best practices and innovative solutions to the challenges facing educational establishments.
As part of the AUS Silver Jubilee celebrations, the forum focused on research agendas as enablers for the University's growth, including biotechnology, medical, biomedical revolutions, and artificial intelligence. As she opened the event, Her Excellency Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of American University of Sharjah, invited guests and speakers to engage in thought-provoking discussions and networking opportunities.
In a session, 'The Voices of Societal Leaders', Sultan Al Ghurair, Member of the Board of Directors of Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, highlighted the importance of investing in youth and education for economic sustainability. He said: "The American University of Sharjah continues to make a sustainable positive impact on the lives of Emirati and Arab youth, which will contribute to economic success in the region. As we currently face global challenges concerning the inclusivity and equity of quality education, forums such as this must continue to facilitate discussion into preserving and promoting lifelong learning."
Dr Sonia Ben Jaafar, CEO of Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation, moderated a session titled 'The Next Lap: Addressing New Realities and Creating a Sustainable Educational Ecosystem', where Hamid Jafar, Chairman of Crescent Group, and Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises and Managing Director of Crescent Group, joined Dr Susan Mumm, AUS Chancellor for a three-way conversational dialogue, mapping out the current state of the education sector and highlighting the need for a fit-for-purpose educational infrastructure and system.
Praising the efforts of AUS and recognising its position as a pioneer of world-class education, Hamid Jafar commented: "The meteoric rise of the University under the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah, and Founder of the American University of Sharjah has played a key role in defining education in Sharjah and across the region. As we reflect on the institution's successes over the last 25 years, we look forward with hope and optimism that the University will continue redefining educational priorities and equip our youth with the knowledge and capabilities to reach new heights."
World Economic Forum figures suggest that by 2035, 80% of today's jobs will be obsolete, underscoring the urgency of facilitating open and honest discussions to find critical educational solutions to future challenges. A current challenge is youth unemployment, as 40% of young people in the MENA region are without access to productive jobs, despite very high levels of education.
Emphasising the importance of a human-centric approach to education, Badr Jafar said: "We need to see systems that are far more human-centric, less exclusively focused on building technical skills and much more capable of developing humans and developing soft skills such as critical thinking, communication, empathy, and focus on mental health. Regardless of the disruptions coming our way, these skills will stand the test of time."
Dr Susan Mumm, Chancellor of AUS, said: "The forum marks the institute's 25 years of commitment to innovation and excellence in higher education, and it is with great pleasure we welcome global experts to share their vision for the future of education to meet economic demands. With many global challenges impacting educational priorities, we share a common goal to equip our young people with core skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving and emotional intelligence to ensure they remain a top choice for employers."
This forum is an important platform to share knowledge, expertise, and vision to equip future generations with the core skills and competencies required for the changing labour market. During the forum, the AUS showcased its achievements in research and development through a range of alum voices, fireside chats, roundtable discussions and presentations.