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Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 09:49 GMT
Dubai Government goes online
Dubai e-government site
Portal provides "government expertise house"
By BBC Arabic Online producer Kifah Arif

The Gulf state of Dubai has taken a step into the world of e-government with the launch of a new web portal, the first of its kind in the Arab world.

The initiative is one of many online projects Dubai has undertaken over the past two years, most prominent of which was Dubai Internet City.

The e-government project, representing 24 government departments, aims to provide official online services for citizens and visitors through one site.

It will also be a "government expertise house", which will follow up and monitor as well as educate clients and users on best use of e-government.

Services on one site

The portal pledges that "citizens won't be required to go to different departments to apply for one single service", and that they "will have to be able to get access through different channels, internet, mail, phone and front-desk operators, and through English and Arabic".

UAE Defence Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum said he hoped the project would help officials change to what he called an e-lifestyle, providing them with training and monitoring their progress at the same time.

The head of the e-government executive team, Sheikha Lubna Al Sashimi, said that the team looked to similar global projects but adapted its own approach to cater for Dubai's needs.

At the opening ceremony on Monday, Sheikha Lubna and other members of the e-government team showed how the portal could be used for online transactions regarding health cards and traffic fines.

Dubai e-government portals contains four sections:

  • Online services: Access to government departments and services, including letting people renew credits cards, pay fines or get driving licences.
  • Living in Dubai: Allows residents to transact and communicate with government departments and visitors to get information of key organizations and services in Dubai
  • Visiting Dubai: Updated information on activities in Dubai
  • Business in Dubai: Offers information on businesses and facilities for traders, investors and companies
Arab world online

The Gulf states have one of the highest internet-user ratios in the Arab world.

The number of internet users in the Arab world is expected to double to eight million by the end of 2002, according to computer chip maker Intel.

Although many Arab governments have shown interest in e-government projects, most of the attempts so far have been fragmented.

However, in March last year, Qatar announced that its e-government project would be launched by 2003.

Dubai had been keen to launch the portal on the date set 18 months ago. Gulf newspapers reported that a number of government departments cancelled summer leave for staff in order to finish the project on time.

See also:

13 Mar 00 | Middle East
Qatar aims for online government
29 Oct 00 | Middle East
Dubai launches Internet City
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