‘Technology is the most secular language in the world’

Personalities from leading universities took part in the event which was conducted on the sidelines of the Sir Syed Global Excellence Award ceremony in Dubai. (AFP/File)
Updated 26 December 2018
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‘Technology is the most secular language in the world’

  • Alumni from prestigious university in India discuss the merits of being digitally-connected with the world
  • Discuss measures to promote implementation in schools and varsities

DUBAI: In order for universities to chart the course of the future, they must include technology in their curriculum.
That was the message voiced by the Aligarh Muslim University’s (AMU) alumni during a panel discussion hosted in the UAE, titled as the “role of universities in developing digital era.”
Personalities from leading universities took part in the event which was conducted on the sidelines of the Sir Syed Global Excellence Award ceremony in Dubai.
Senior journalist from India and an AMU alumnus, Rifat Jawaid, essayed the role of a moderator for the evening. 
Lt. General (rtd) Zameer uddin Shah said that it is important to teach technology to students as young as those in grade one. “When it comes to learning technology, age has no bar --- whether you are five years old or 80 years old, technology embracs everyone,” he said, adding that technology is the most secular language in the world.
“No matter which religion, caste, faith you belong to, if you have the power of technology, no one can stop you,” he said.
Zameer uddin Shah was the former vice chancellor of AMU in India from 2012-2017 and is credited with introducing smart classrooms in the university.
“When I left my office, there were about 100 smart classrooms in the university. However, these smart classrooms and other infrastructure investment does not make any difference; unless we upgrade our curriculum and include technology in the courses and education system,” he said.
While responding to a question regarding whether educators were equipped or qualified enough to teach the subject, Shah said: “We need to train and equip our teachers properly to teach contemporary [technology] education. Technology is something which evolves every passing day. We need teachers that have evolved from the chalk and duster phase.”
Syed Ali Rizvi, a leading businessman from USA and an AMU alumni, was part of the panel, too. He said that as the universities are run according to regulatory authorities, it may be challenging for the university to make changes in the curriculum quickly.
“However, we can introduce after-class extra courses. These extra efforts will make a mark difference in quality of education and students’ critical thinking. One short step will eventually convert into a big leap,” he said.
Tariq Chauhan, the recipient of the Sir Syed Global Excellence award and the Group CEO of EFS facilities services group, said that these days, international companies prefer to hire human resources directly from campuses.
“However, if any academic institution is not producing brains as per the global market demand; then it will eventually be left behind. Universities have to collaborate with international organizations to determine the future demands and upgrade the curriculum accordingly,” he said.
Leading filmmaker, producer, and writer, Anubhav Sinha said that learning technology does not mean becoming ‘employable’
“Technology empowers you to convert your dreams into a reality. Digital world and technology is not just about computers. It gives you courage to take bold steps and move ahead. If you have a power of technology, no matter whether you live in an international city or a small-town person, nothing is impossible. It is all about one-big-idea,” he said.
The event was organized at a local hotel in Dubai where eminent AMU alumni from across the globe were honored with the Global Excellence Award.
AMU is one of the oldest universities in India which was established in 1920. It has more than 28,000 students, 1,342 teachers, and nearly 5,610 non-teaching staff. The university has 12 faculties comprising 98 teaching departments, three academies and 15 centers and institution.


Saudi Arabia’s East Coast Festival lines up top-class cultural activities

Updated 6 min 39 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s East Coast Festival lines up top-class cultural activities

  • Dammam Corniche event celebrates Saudi heritage; more ‘seasons’ to come
  • The festival is being held at the waterfront of King Abdullah Park, and access to the 10-day event is free

DAMMAM: People in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province have had no shortage of things to do during the Sharqiah Season. From pop concerts featuring international artists to massive sporting events, there is something for everyone among the 83 different events planned.

However, it would be remiss not to celebrate the heritage and culture of the country itself. The Enter East Coast Festival, an open-air marketplace with plenty of activities for locals and tourists to enjoy.

The festival is being held along the Dammam Corniche, at the waterfront of King Abdullah Park, and access to the 10-day event is free.

It features stalls with craftsmen beavering away. At one, a potter is bent over a wheel as he makes vases, lanterns and small toys. At another, carpenters fashion chairs and tables out of planks of wood. A weaver hums as he plaits together palm fronds to form baskets and fans.

The vendors are mostly from Saudi Arabia, but there are other countries showcasing their work too. 

Fishermen and sailors from Oman display pearls still in their shells, delicate replicas of traditional fishing boats, and stretches of fishing net. The stalls from Kuwait feature items from the past and vendors from Bahrain offer local sweets, handmade items and clothing.

There are Saudi dances and musical performances too. One stage, resembling a ship, features performers dressed as sailors singing traditional sea shanties. Another stage has drummers and a singer. A huge area in the middle of the space is allotted to dancers, flag-bearers, and even armed officers participating in a traditional Ardah, or Saudi dance.

Those looking to eat something can chow down on Saudi offerings including jareesh, margoog, or qursan. There are food trucks selling Western fare such as burgers and tacos. 

The festival runs until March 30, when the Sharqiah Season ends. 

The season is a collaborative effort between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, the General Entertainment Authority, the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority. It is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned across the country for 2019.

Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city, and different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

Decoder

What is Sharqiah Season?

The festival features more than 80 events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail. Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city. Upcoming seasons will focus on different areas, and also different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. Read our reports on the Sharqiah Season festival here: http://www.arabnews.com/tags/sharqiah-season