A study from Booz and Company a few years ago claimed that electronic government capabilities are a crucial part of a nation’s technological development and that although countries in the Middle East region had started to implement e-government, there was still some way to go.
Several years on we can see many of these electronic government capabilities – in which governments offer services online to citizens, businesses, other government entities, and employees – in place across the Middle East. Their vision is clearly based on a customer-centric approach to eGovernment.
Many countries in the Middle East are turning to secure electronic documents and all Gulf countries (UAE, Qatar, Oman, Saudi, Kuwait, Bahrain) have deployed eID cards, some also have ePassports. At the center of this evolution is the focus that Middle Eastern Governments have given to eGovernance, taking it very seriously with a clear vision. Many of them have built state of the art Government IT infrastructures, paving the way for digital services and today some of the GCC countries have now become global pioneers in e-government.
According to the United Nations “2012 Global E-Government Survey”, UAE recently witnessed the highest jump in the world e-government development ranking from No. 49 in 2010 to No. 28 in 2012.
From Bahrain to Oman to Qatar, eID cards are widely available to citizens, and governments across the Middle East are building upon this secure digital technology to simplify and speed up administrative processes, provide better qualitative public services to citizens and residents, promote the use of IT technology, provide better homeland security and pave the way to a wide array of e-Government services.
Imagine, for example, being able to complete specific actions online, whether paying for bills, renewing your health card, applying for a visa or other certificates, registering to the University, paying your driving fines, etc.
There is certainly a progressive move towards a digitally advanced government that offers public services. The key is to make it as convenient and secure as possible for citizens to complete tasks online. With a single sign on using their eID card, citizens have the required authentication to access any type of service from one single platform. Let’s take a look at specific examples of this.
Qatar – this country is launching an enhanced version of its eGovernment services platform which will enable Qatari citizens to sign documents online without having to install a specific middleware solution on their computer. The new solution works on all operating systems and is therefore available on any computers making it securely available to all those who need access.
Oman – this is a pioneering country when it comes to offering its citizens customer-centric services. Back in 2009, the Omani government not only provided its citizens with a secure eID document, but the card was also enhanced with driver’s license and border control functionalities. The country was also a forerunner in implementing ePurse and eVoting applications on the card, leveraging on its installed base of intelligent documents to enable new services for the benefit of its citizens. The country is also taking eID mobile, enabling secure access to eGovernment services and legal-proof digital signatures directly from mobile phones.
UAE – several developments are happening here, from making an interactive Twitter initiative available to customers wishing to ask Emirates ID questions, to announcing plans to make eGovernment services available via mobile devices. This is part of a wider plan to strengthen strategic partnerships between the Emirates Identity Authority and Dubai eGovernment to create a ‘smart government’.
Earlier this year, Dubai eGovernment won two awards for best mobile app and best ePay portal, demonstrating its commitment to provide services through mobile devices and facilitate their access to customers anywhere and anytime. This strategy is called ‘Customer First’ and ultimately highlights the power of giving citizens a first-class and technologically advanced experience.
We’re at GITEX demo-ing some of the latest secure and convenient digital eGovernment services that are being implemented across the Middle East. To find out more follow us #GemaltoGITEX or come and see us in Hall 7 booth A7-35.