Saudi Arabia Becomes E-Government “Emerging Leader”
In the “E-Government Survey 2012” report recently released by the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Saudi Arabia has been ranked 41st out of 193 countries relating to the level of its e-government infrastructure development. Saudi Arabia advanced 17 positions from its rank of 58th in 2010. The report is released every two years and determines the ranking of countries based on online services available, telecommunications infrastructure, and human capital.
Due to Saudi Arabia’s large jump from 58 to 41, it is now among the top 25 emerging e-government leaders. In addition, it is highlighted as one of the countries that made the most progress over the past two years. The top five countries in the 2012 e-government development index are South Korea, the Netherlands, the U.K., Denmark, and the U.S.
Saudi Arabia is a regional e-government leader, following only the U.A.E. and Bahrain, and its individual component indexes are all well above the global average. Saudi Arabia has also been identified as a whole-of-government top performer, noting the overall commitment of the Saudi Government and its focus on developing a system that incorporates all aspects of the government.
E-Government Development Index
The majority of countries do not utilize multiple channels to deliver services, such as traditional channels, free access to services via internet kiosks or WiFi, and mobile applications. However, Saudi Arabia is one of only seven countries to provide all of the following services: SMS text notification, dedicated mobile government websites, mobile applications, and payment by mobile phone.
Saudi Arabia has also been active with promoting its services using social media. It is one of 78 countries that have a “Follow Us” link for Facebook or Twitter and among the 14 that provide a chat feature on government websites.The Saudi e-government portal, www.saudi.gov.sa, provides both citizens and businesses with a single location to access a range of information and services. Among the various services offered is the ability to apply for professional licenses; download government forms; renew work licenses; apply for education programs; pay utilities, education, and business fees; and submit comments and queries to government agencies. The Saudi Government also offers an Open Document Initiative through the portal, which provides users with informational documents and reports from government agencies. The goal of the e-portal is to increase productivity and efficiency, encourage public participation, solicit public opinion, and provide services in a way that is focused more on the individual.