In response to the current situation and the directives of the business sector and educational and health authorities in the United Arab Emirates, SJR Group has launched the ‘Interact Safely’ initiative. the UAE-based SJR is specialised in providing integrated Information Technology (IT) services as well as marine and maritime products.
The ‘Interact Safely’ initiative aims to create a flexible work environment and ensure the highest levels of productivity by implementing the best technologies that facilitate doing business safely and efficiently. Smart technologies have become one of the most important tools in managing crises. They save time and effort as well as do jobs that humans might not be able to do. Additionally, technology helps limit the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) by improving the process of managing this crisis across all organisations.
The initiative includes implementing an integrated work system that is compatible with the requirements of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and the Ministry of Economy. The system has many advantages, the most important of which is the possibility of creating a virtual work environment where the lecturer or the employer interacts and asks questions through live video or text chatting. The solution also enables sharing presentations for classes or business projects, in addition to other features to follow up on work progress.
Ensuring a flexible and safe work environment
Commenting on this achievement, Capt. Sahar Rasti, CEO of SJR Group and the UAE’s first female ship captain, said, “Digital transformation is a key pillar in the UAE Centennial 2071, which aims to make the UAE the best country in the world. That’s why, when we established SJR Group before this crisis of the Coronavirus outbreak, we particularly focused on providing smart solutions. We firmly believe that they will shape the future of all business sectors. The spread of the Coronavirus and the resulting conditions have greatly accelerated the adoption of these solutions on a large scale. Both e-learning and working remotely have now become the norm. We are confident that after the Coronavirus crisis is over, people will not give up on cutting-edge applications after they have experienced their outstanding features."
Rasti added, "We were amazed at the speed of educational institutions’ response to this initiative and the application of best technological practices. One of the most prominent institutions to adopt the initiative was the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport in Sharjah. The team was very enthusiastic to implement the e-learning system across all colleges and departments. In record time, we were able to implement the integrated system thanks to the great support and cooperation of the Academy’s administration and academia. The Academy’s prompt response is a major milestone in its digitization journey, especially that the maritime sector is generally known for its slow adoption of digital solutions compared to other sectors."
Towards a better maritime education
Dr. Hisham Afifi, Advisor to the President of the Academy and in charge of Khorfakkan's branch, said, "Today, we are reaping the fruit of the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, who was keen to provide the Academy’s buildings and educational facilities with the latest equipment and digital communication networks. This played a key role in the successful, quick and efficient system implementation. The system enables faculty members to communicate with students through virtual classes, give live lectures, share presentations, videos and photos, efficiently and fast; without any interruptions due to the pressure on our network."
Afifi added, "The e-learning system that has been successfully implemented is a golden opportunity for us, as it allows us to open the door to new students from across the world. It will also enable us to use the services of distinguished academic experts and professors, wherever they are, to teach our students in Sharjah when needed. This will enhance the efficiency of our educational capabilities, and make us a centre of an international maritime education network, which increases the value of the certificates our graduates receive."
Dr. Ahmed Youssef, Associate Dean of the Maritime Transport Technology College AASTS, said, “The e-learning system that we have implemented has brought about an overall shift in the way we work in the Academy. It has enhanced our planning capabilities and provided new teaching tools for the staff. The analytical tools of the educational process, the follow-up of students’ achievements and the performance of lecturers and staff are incomparable. We are able to observe all details and results of academic performance directly through an interactive dashboard. I would like to emphasise that e-learning has become an integral part of the Academy’s educational process and will be used alongside the traditional educational system.”
One of the advantages of the SJR Group’s e-learning system is the ‘Academic Excellence Competitions’ feature, which creates an atmosphere of competitiveness and excitement among students during the educational process. It motivates them to make the educational process more creative and innovative.
Rasti concluded by saying, "I urge all educational institutions and entrepreneurs to join the initiative in order to overcome the challenges that we face and turn them into opportunities. I would like to emphasise that our initiative supports staff empowerment plans by investing in the flexible hours working scheme and the fact that many employees work from home. This is achieved by launching comprehensive programmes for job training and professional development; taking advantage of the available smart systems. This in turn, will improve the internal work environment and develop human capital in line with the vision of the Government of the future. Implementing electronic professional development systems motivates employees to be innovative, creative and pioneers in providing services during unrestricted working hours."