For the second year running Qatar has ranked the most IT-friendly country in the Middle East. The findings of the “The Global Information Technology Report 2014: Rewards and Risks of Big Data” survey ranked Qatar 23rd globally, one place ahead of the UAE in a list of 148 economies.
The Survey which was conducted by INSEAD, the leading international business school, in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, indicates an alarming lack of progress in bridging the “digital divide” between emerging and developing nations and the world’s networked economies. However, Qatar’s strongest area of performance was government usage of ICT, ranking 4th in the world. The Ministry of Information & Communications Technology (ictQATAR) has been working meticulously over the last few years to bridge the digital divide.
The Digital Inclusion Strategy (DIS) which identifies key areas that require improvement, details a number of initiatives aimed at improving technology usage and accessibility that will work to ensure that everyone advances together in the technology race. The DIS was developed in support of the National Information Communication Technology (ICT) plan, which aims to achieve mass ICT and Internet adoption across Qatar by 2015.
The DIS report identified a number of social groups who are at risk of exclusion due to old age, special needs or disablement, low-skilled migrant workers with limited Internet access, those who live in remote areas, non-working Qatari women and young people who did not progress to higher education.
The strategy outlines a number of initiatives that have been and will be implemented to enhance the adoption of technology in each sub-group, such as those with special needs who could benefit from a set of tools developed to enhance accessibility. The effective use of ICT technologies such as voice activated ATMs and Assistive Technologies can empower this group by reducing barriers, increasing independence and improving overall quality of life.
Another group identified was younger users, whilst already digitally savvy, the MICT has identified a need for further guidance to ensure they get the most from the ICT tools available to them, for example, how to write and send an effective CV and covering letter. In addition to this, Safety and Media Literacy workshops have been offered to overcome the growing concern around online safety for youth.
ictQATAR continues to work with the government and its partners to find new ways to collaborate and align efforts to assist in connecting Qatar to the rest of the world.