UAE Leads the Arab World in Digital Transformation


The UAE is leading the Arab World in digital transformation, having ranked first in the Arab world and 8th globally in the United Nations’ Online Service Index (OSI) 2020, according to the UN EDGI Report covering 193 countries. The E-Government Development Index (EGDI) presents the state of E-Government Development of the United Nations Member States.

While the country moves towards a data-driven and paperless government, more than 300 delegates gathered in Dubai to take stock on the progress made by the governments of the Middle East in their digital transformation movement at the 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference, taking place from February 15 to 16, 2022, at Movenpick Grand Al Bustan Hotel in Dubai, UAE.

“The global market for Big Data is estimated at US$70.5 billion in 2020. It is projected to exceed US$243.4 billion by 2027, Abdul Mobeen Khan, Chairman of the 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference who is also a Strategy Execution, Programme Management, ITSM, Cybersecurity and Governance Practitioner and Trainer, UAE.

He said, governments should now focus on the untapped potential of the data economy. “The opening of the Geographic Information System (GIS), has fuelled the growth of the Global Positioning System (GPS) industry that is now represents a market worth over US$128 billion. We are no longer working in silos. If we do not use data analytics property, things can fall between the cracks. Government and businesses should ensure strategic alignment based on data. Your strategy should be agile and flexible based on data.”

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is cruising ahead towards a digital government. In 2019, the Kingdom launched its ICT Sector Strategy 2023 followed by National Cybersecurity Strategy 2020 and National Strategy for Data and Artificial Intelligence in 2020. In 2021, Saudi Arabia launched E-Government Regulatory Framework and the development of the Digital Government Authority (DGA).

Nabil Aloufi, Vice-Governor of Risks and Business Continuity, Digital Government Authority at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), said, “Saudi Arabia currently offers 6,000 e-Government services, records 3 billion transactions per year, and this is increasing. We have a proper roadmap for the digital government.”

Saudi Arabia ranked 43 in UN EDGI Report in 2021. “We aim to improve our ranking to 38 this year and become one of the top ten countries in the world by 2030. Our roadmap includes three key communication channels – Government to Citizens, Government to Business and Government to Government agencies – to ensure the data-driven government offers the best experiences for all,” Nabil Aloufi said.

Data-Driven Government makes public administration more effective, transparent, strengthens safety and security, saves public money and weeds out corruption. It helps governments in undertaking the right decision, based on data analytics.

The two-day conference takes place when governments of more than 200 countries are shifting their focus on data-driven governance which will determine which government excels in leading their country in future.

Data-Driven Government changes the way the government functions. Decisions are backed up by the real-time data analytics that help assess the situation more appropriately. Governments can play a key role as data providers — both in the form of raw data and official statistics — helping to unlock a $3 trillion open-data opportunity for the private sector and civil society, says McKinsey & Company.

A latest report by Gartner, Inc. says, worldwide public sector spending on IT and soft infrastructure is set to increase 6.5 percent from US$523.2 billion in 2021 to US$557 billion next year, as governments worldwide are allocating massive resources to strengthen data-driven government that will help the public sector to ensure smooth service delivery and help smart decision making based on data analytics.

Before implementing Data-Driven Government, worldwide governments need make smart phone accessible to all in order to bring the public services at the fingertips of each citizen. The number of smartphone users in the world today has exceeded 6.37 billion, which translates to 80.69 percent of the world’s population owning a smartphone.

“Data is the new gold and governance becomes better, more transparent and more effective with data-driven government. The whole world is currently in various stages of digital transformation processes. While some are at the beginning of the process, others are at an advanced stage of data-driven digital government,” Abdul Mobeen Khan, Strategy Execution, Program Management, ITSM, Cybersecurity & Governance Practitioner and Trainer, United Arab Emirates and Chairman of the 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference, says.

“The UAE is one of the most advanced countries to have digitized its public services, while Dubai Government is the first to have become 100 percent paperless government in the world, which is a huge achievement.”

The Data-Driven Government will also expand the big data and bring all the citizens’ individual data in one server. The global market for big data estimated at US$130.7 billion in 2020 and projected to reach US$234.6 billion by 2026, growing at 10.2 percent year-on-year.

Race for excellence in effective governance gains momentum and is the focal point of discussions at the 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference. Globally governments are working on the digitisation of the public sector, especially key government departments, authorities and regulators, to offer a seamless service delivery across all the channels. While some are at the beginning phase of data-driven government set up, others are migrating to the next-generation solutions.

In his opening address at the 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference, Nabil Aloufi, Vice President – Governance, Risk and Compliance, Ministry of Communications, and Information Technology (MCIT) & Digital Government Authority (DGA), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, says, “Almost all the countries in the Middle East are currently racing against each other to achieve 100 percent Data-Driven paperless government. However, most countries are lagging behind and needs to catch up fast. These countries need to expand their bandwidth and encourage people to start searching for public services online.”

More than 300 international and regional stakeholders from across the government sector, including but not limited to ministries, government authorities and agencies, consulting firms, and technology developers will discuss and debate on how to create the perfect data-driven government at the 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference where delegates will explore latest advanced solutions to establish a secure data management and analytics infrastructure.

The current rapid development of ICT has brought about high performance and increased integration of the computing environment, mobile computing, and hyper-connection. This led to a stratification in data quality and a sharp increase in quantity, according to a report, titled Data-Driven Smart Government by the United Nations.

“While in the past, there was mainly ‘passive data’ that data holders or owners created while passively responding to the request of the data collecting actors, there is now a rise in ‘active data,’ which data holders volunteer to produce,” it said.

At the 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference, a distinguished expert panel of speakers will include government decision makers and international industry experts who will discuss the region’s vision of data-driven government and to efficiently implement them to drive the quality of life and support their national socio-economic development.

Data-driven government is key to achieve sustainable development and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, while most countries have enhanced E-participation and data-centric approaches and increased the focus in building digital capacities, according to a recent United Nations report on E-Government.

Data-Driven Government in MENA region

Digital government, an initiative to transform the way we deliver public services through technology and data, has been gaining momentum in the MENA region, particularly after UAE announced achieving 100 percent digital government and becoming the global leader by 2071.

Creating digital projects in the MENA region has long been the goal of many governments in the Middle East and North Africa. However, this progress must be supported by efforts from all stakeholders to enable governments to capitalise on opportunities, which will, in turn, contribute to economic growth in this region.

The 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference, is supported by – The Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), Jordan Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship, UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP), Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Emirates Health Services, Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park, Saudi Digital Government Authority, Ajman Free Zone, International Association of Artificial Intelligence, Oman National Energy Centre (NEC) and Oman Information Technology Society.


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