In the United Nations’ 2012 e-Government Survey, the UAE is ranked among the emerging leaders group in e-Government development, ranking at 0.73 EGDI (e-Government Development Index), close behind the world’s top 20 leaders, topped by Republic of Korea with a 0.92 score.
The UAE is thus joining the group of 25 emerging leaders for the first time, after developing at astonishing rates its electronic government services.
“We had the biggest jump, from position 49 in 2010 to position 28 this year, according to the UN evaluation,” said Salem Al Shair, Deputy Director-General of e-Government and Information sector, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
A giant leap was made particularly in the government online services, which gave the UAE a push from the 99th place to seventh place worldwide.
“What contributed to this improvement was largely this portal here, http://government.ae, which was launched in May 2011 by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai,” Al Shair told Khaleej Times.
The website was designed at the national level.
According to Al Shair, even though certain government rules and procedures differ from one emirate to the other, there is always a link that directs users to the right information. “For example, if you want to open a business in Sharjah, you will find all the requirements and documentations particular to this case,” he explained.
For the next phase, the UAE government plans to focus on open data, which will make government data available to people electronically, in a user-friendly format.
The UAE’s story of success in this field was further discussed during the GCC e-Participation and e-Governance Forum, which started in Abu Dhabi on Monday. Representatives from the top countries in e-Governance including South Korea and the USA shared their success formula in the forum which will conclude today.
“What people want is the ability to communicate with the government,” stressed Richard Kerby, interregional adviser on e-Government at the United Nations, USA, during the forum.
“To achieve this, it is important to have as wide an audience as possible, who will stay on your websites and will keep returning to it, even when you don’t have much data to put on it,” he said.
“Being able to keep people on a government’s website will create a trust partnership between the two parts, vital to the success to any e-Government portal. This is obtainable by making the website easy to navigate, having a multimedia design that will keep users interested, displaying the information in multiple languages, so that foreigners, not only the local population, are able to make use of the services,” he added.