UAE is most high-tech country in Mena region

The UAE ranks as the most high-tech country in the Mena region, according to a study by INSEAD and the World Economic Forum.

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The UAE has retained its position as the region's most high-tech country, partly on the back of strong "e-Government" initiatives, a study has found.

A report by the business school Insead and the World Economic Forum showed the UAE ranking top in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), and 24th worldwide, in terms of information and communication technology (ICT) readiness.

The UAE Government's approach to ICT services helped the country hold its top position within the region, said The Global Information Technology Report 2010-2011.

Worldwide, the UAE ranked third overall in terms of "government readiness" in ICT, which measures the government's prioritisation and procurement.

High mobile phone use and healthy consumer demand for new technologies were additional factors behind the UAE's success.

"The UAE is ranked remarkably high on government readiness," said Professor Bruno Lanvin, the executive director at Insead's eLab research department and one of the co-authors of the report.

"The UAE for a long time has expressed its priority in diversifying its economy … it's been a long-term strategy of which ICT has been identified as a component."

But Prof Lanvin added that while the "readiness" of ICT was high in the UAE, the actual use of it was lower.

Factors behind this include businesses not taking full advantage of e-Government services, the complex regulatory environment and relative difficulty of doing business in the UAE.

"It's not enough to push so many services online if people are not using them, especially in business. There might be something else in the ecosystem … that prevents you from reaping the benefits of your ICT strategies," said Prof Lanvin.

"Moving from readiness to usage requires a buy-in from the population, from business."

While the UAE slipped one place globally from last year, it retains the number one spot among the Mena countries, according to the report's Networked Readiness Index, which ranks 138 economies worldwide.