Nº 3 2014 > Interviews and viewpoints
Success breeds success
Interview with Nasser A. Bin Hammad on WTDC‑14 coordination
Senior Manager of International Affairs in the Director General’s Office of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, United Arab Emirates, and Coordinator of WTDC‑14
Negotiations are an important step in hosting an event. What was your experience in negotiating the Host Country Agreement with ITU for WTDC‑14?
Nasser A. Bin Hammad: Three major ITU high-level events were held for the first time in the United Arab Emirates in 2012. These were ITU Telecom World, the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly, and the World Conference on International Telecommunications, and all three events were successfully hosted in Dubai. Representing the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the United Arab Emirates, I had the honour of being the national coordinator for these three events. This provided me and my team with valuable experience in responding to ITU’s requirements for hosting a major event for the Union in 2014, namely the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC‑14). The experience gained in 2012 enabled the Government of the United Arab Emirates, through its Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, to take a fast decision to offer to host WTDC‑14.
The ITU’s requirements were very familiar to us in the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and this helped a lot in our negotiations with the ITU team. Another advantage was that WTDC‑14 could be hosted in the same premises — the Dubai World Trade Center — where the three events had been held in 2012. This was an important factor in helping us to finalize the Host Country Agreement.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the event happen?
Nasser A. Bin Hammad: As you know, the original dates set for the conference were 31 March to 11 April 2014. The United Arab Emirates could only offer slightly different dates because of the availability of the Dubai World Trade Center. Furthermore, ITU had to consult the membership of the Union on the new venue and dates of the conference, according to due procedure. We had to wait for the official result of the consultation and the announcement that the United Arab Emirates would be hosting the event.
As project manager, I would say that time was the most critical constraint for me and my team in the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. It was the biggest challenge we faced — having to fulfil all the requirements within the short time available, not only those arising from the Host Country Agreement with ITU, but also the internal requirements of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and the other entities in the United Arab Emirates that were also involved in the conference. We had a period of just three months of intensive work to organize this important international conference, with a huge number of participants, in a critical year for ITU because of the forthcoming Plenipotentiary Conference to be held in Busan, Republic of Korea, later in 2014 (20 October to 7 November).
What technical challenges had to be overcome?
Nasser A. Bin Hammad: According to the Host Country Agreement, we had to guarantee to meet many requirements relating to the operation of the event. In this respect, our biggest challenge was the short duration of time that suppliers had to equip the Dubai World Trade Center.
With regard to the logistical and protocol arrangements, which again were an obligation on the host country under the terms of the Host Country Agreement, we took advantage of the positive experience gained in 2012 and were successful in making timely arrangements. In fact, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority hired the same logistics company, Pearl of Arabia, which was the official logistical organizer back in 2012.
How important was capacity building in preparing for the event?
Nasser A. Bin Hammad: In my opinion, capacity building was the key strategy that enabled the success of the conference. Success in holding such a prestigious event requires staff to have support, trust, confidence, encouragement and motivation at all times. This enabling environment very much exists within the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, starting from its Chairman, who was strongly in favour of the United Arab Emirates hosting the event. The Director General and the top management of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority were unfailingly supportive, monitoring progress and taking a close interest in all the activities of the internal team involved. The support that we got from top management on logistical and technical matters, coupled with the commitment and efforts made by my team in the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority international affairs department, were the real assets that enabled us to host the conference successfully.
What were your expectations for this event, and have they been met?
Nasser A. Bin Hammad: Our expectations were very high from the beginning, even though they were tempered with a little fear. Participation was high, with over 1300 delegates, including 52 VIPs, representing 137 Member States. The running of the conference was smooth from beginning to end, and there were no complaints from the ITU membership. I think that these facts are evidence that WTDC‑14 was another success story for both the United Arab Emirates and ITU.
How do you see the future of the relationship between the United Arab Emirates and ITU?
Nasser A. Bin Hammad: The cordial and long-term relationship between ITU and the Government of the United Arab Emirates, especially the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, has certainly been enhanced by our experience of WTDC‑14. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority management’s vision is to keep the United Arab Emirates at the forefront of the activities of the Union in all three ITU Sectors and in all areas. The Government of the United Arab Emirates is planning to participate actively in the upcoming Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, as well as in the ITU Council. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority will continue to work with all Sectors of the Union, doing its utmost to support and cooperate with the ITU membership in order to achieve the goals of the Union.
Any final thoughts?
Nasser A. Bin Hammad: The excellent coordination and preparations on the logistical and technical front by the staff of ITU and the United Arab Emirates Telecommunications Regulatory Authority paid off, and the conference went without a hitch. In my view, the mutual understanding, joint efforts and spirit of good will that were evident throughout the conference led to this most successful WTDC.