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UN E-Government Survey in the News  
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Lagging e-Government Portals Prove Burden for UAE Competitiveness
Source: The National, by Triska Hamid, http://www.thenational.ae/business/technology/lagging-e-government-portals-prove-burden-for-uae-competitiveness
Source Date: Monday, July 08, 2013
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: United Arab Emirates
Created: Jul 09, 2013

While the country has made one of the most rapid developments in e-government, rising five places to 25th in the Global Information Technology Report 2013, ahead of France, Spain and Oman among others, it could improve with a more robust federal electronic portal, say the experts.

Currently each emirate has its own e-government portal, initiatives and strategy. A unified federal portal exists, but progress has been slow with little interaction between government agencies.

"The UAE has made leaps and bounds over the years. That's why you see a flood of businesses going into the UAE making different investments," said Tan Lark Yang, the director of IDA International, which has advised governments around the world on the development of e-government strategies.

"It is common knowledge that the UAE is very interested in developing alternative industries beyond oil and gas and it would benefit from a centralised portal," he added.

Such a centralised portal would be most beneficial to foreign investors looking for a one-stop destination for information on the UAE, applying for licences and communicating with the correct government departments and agencies.

Singapore's own e-government system ranks second in the Global Information Technology Report, after Finland.

The Singapore portal is considered one of the world's most sophisticated, with 96 per cent of its citizens claiming to be satisfied with the quality of the government's e-services.

"E-government is fragmented in the UAE," said Stefan Kimmel, the head of IT and operations practice at Oliver Wyman Middle East.

"The benefit of a federal e-government set-up would only be in areas that are handled on a federal level [like] immigration and security, mostly to enhance government-to-government interaction.

"For aspects handled by individual emirates [such as] real estate or by municipalities like traffic, there is very little benefit."

The United Nations identified the UAE has one of the emerging leaders in e-government last year and the country jumped 21 positions to 28th place in the UN e-government survey, but its ranking could become even higher with a more centralised portal.

"It depends on whether it is something the UAE wants to do, there are different attractions for Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with different strengths and weaknesses. From a business standpoint if I'm going there to make an investment, it would help to have a federal portal," said Mr Tan.

"There is collaboration between the federal and local governments but we have not reached a stage yet where there is one portal for the whole UAE. This is something we are working towards and hope to achieve in the future," said an official from Abu Dhabi Systems & Information Centre.

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