Ahead of the next week’s iNET conference at Carnegie Mellon University, Digital Qatar’s Damian Radcliffe spoke to Fadel Al-Enazi, Chairman of the Qatar Internet Society ( ISOC Qatar) about what to expect from the conference and his take on the key ICT issues in Qatar.
Fadel, can you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and your particular Internet and ICT interests?
I have worked for 13 years across the IT industry in different sectors, in the oil and gas, banking and IT services. I come with a strong technical background and am now leading the Internet Society in Qatar, it’s a very important role that, I hope, will add value to the whole community.
What does ISOC Qatar do? And how did it come about?
The society is a non-profit and independent organization that was set up to promote collaboration for equal access to the Internet and to promote the Internet as a platform for education and development.
The vision of the Internet Society (Qatar Chapter) is to make the web inclusive and accessible to all. The Society believes that such widespread access will encourage individuals and groups to become active participants in society, thereby helping them enrich their personal and professional lives.
We want to become the organization that is able to represent the unified view of multiple internet users from Qatar and the one organization that is able to present this view to the relevant authorities, and to move legislation to fit the changing demands of the internet user in the country.
You have a big conference coming up (see: ISOC Qatar invites you to attend “iNET Qatar: The Rise of the Arab Information Society”) what can people expect if they attend?
The Internet is the primary cornerstone for business and communications today. In order to continue being a trusted, mission-critical platform, the Internet must be seen and proven to be secure, reliable and private. The iNET conference is set to create a stimulus for learning, collaborating and defining strategies that shape the future of your business. It is a unique forum to meet, discuss and learn from the people driving the development of the Internet.
The Internet Society (ISOC) has organized the iNET Conference with us, and it will bring together around 400 Internet stakeholders to discuss the challenges, opportunities and threats facing the Internet.
What do you hope will happen as a result of iNET Qatar?
There’s four main things I hope it will achieve:
- Create more awareness of the Internet issues in the Arab region
- Discuss Qatar and the Arab region major internet challenges and try to find solutions
- Help people learn from the Internet experts about the ways to address business challenges related to the Internet
- Helping youth and entrepreneurs to get more involved in the Internet
Qatar has made ICT a cornerstone of its 2030 vision. What do you think are the big ICT challenges the country faces in the next couple of years?
Along with rapid ICT growth have appeared several challenges related to web accessibility, lack of Arabic language content, privacy, and affordability that can allow everyone to enjoy the Internet.
Furthermore, although Qatar’s telecommunications infrastructure has grown significantly, current broadband connectivity is not yet at the speeds required to meet the country’s needs.
Not to mention as well that Qatar’s digital literacy still lags behind many other advanced nations. This is due to many lacks in the necessary digital skills and knowledge that are common among their peers in other developed nations; they are missing key opportunities to participate in the global digital economy.
Also, Qatar faces business environment challenges; the country needs to modernize policies and regulations to protect the interests of end users, attracts further investments, and create a business model to stimulate the development of digital content. It also needs to support entrepreneurship to drive sustainable ICT growth.
And lastly, some pressing social challenges are worth being highlighted as well, such as: controlling rising health costs and developing more efficient public services using ICT, integrating people with disabilities, motivating youth and digitizing its cultural heritage.
ISOC Qatar will presumably play a key role in supporting/addressing these challenges. How can people get involved?
They can join the Qatar Internet Society for free, and as a member they’ll have access to leading experts from all professions who are dedicated to helping people around the world get online and tell their story.