ME internet users grow over 600pc
Sharm El Sheikh, May 20, 2008
The Middle East has registered a whopping 600 per cent increase in Internet users over last seven years, about three times the world’s average increase, according to a Global Information Technology Report 2007-2008.
The report underlines the substantial progress the Middle East has been making in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, spearheaded by the Gulf States.
The Gulf states are increasingly emphasizing the role of ICT for national development, both as a key infrastructure and as a promising sector in view of diversifying their economies away from oil, the report said.
Published for the seventh consecutive year with record coverage of 127 economies worldwide, the Report has become the world’s most comprehensive and authoritative international assessment of the impact of ICT on the development process and the competitiveness of nations.
As a whole, the Middle East stands out as having made the most progress in networked readiness over the last seven years and having recorded the largest growth in Internet users as citizens accessing the Web soared by more than 600 per cent, three times the world’s average increase, it added.
The findings of the report highlight significant improvement in the rankings of most of the Middle Eastern countries, with Qatar (32nd), Bahrain (45th) and Jordan (47th) at the forefront. Kuwait (52nd) also climbed four positions in a constant sample from last year.
The UAE, unchanged from last year at 29th place, continues to lead the Gulf States in networked readiness, owing to a leading government role in ICT promotion as witnessed by the excellent marks the country obtains in government readiness and usage.
Four newly-included countries from the region were in the list this year. Saudi Arabia and Oman enter the rankings at 48th and 53rd, respectively, while Libya and Syria are ranked at 105th and 110th, respectively, the report said.
“These findings mark a ‘step change’ for the region, illustrating a continuing shift towards dynamic and sustainable economic development,” said Soumitra Dutta, dean, external relations and Roland Berger chaired professor in Business and Technology at Insead in France.
“But, even more important, they indicate that if the Middle East maintains its current trajectory it will reap the benefits of increasing competitivity; able to take on other world economies, attract investment and create the millions of jobs necessary for a fast-expanding population and improving standards of living,” the duo said
Some Gulf States, such as the UAE, stand out in their efforts to promote and leverage ICT.
For instance, Dubai’s e-Government Initiative, started in 2000 and fostering ICT implementation in the country, has been recognized as a success story by practitioners and is an integral part of Dubai Vision 2010, which aims to establish Dubai as a knowledge-based economy by leveraging tourism, ICT, media, trade and services.
Under the theme 'Fostering Innovation through Networked Readiness,' this year’s Report places particular focus on the role of networked readiness in spurring innovation.
The co-chairs of the meeting are: Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, chairman, Ithmaar Bank, Bahrain; Mohammed Alshaya, chairman, Alshaya Group, Kuwait; The Duke of York, UK special representative for International Trade and Investment; Yuriko Koike, member of the house of representatives, National Diet of Japan; Paul Rice, president and chief executive officer, TransFair, USA; Jimmy Wales, founder and chair Emeritus, Wikia, USA.-TradeArabia News Service