Digitisation will cement the UAE's growth

The government is using modern technology in an increasing number of its services

The UAE is measuring digital efficiency in its public sector. EPA
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A digital technology evolution is underway in the UAE, which will change fundamentally the way people interact with services provided by the state. Doing so, the government believes, will boost efficiency, improving the lives of residents and visitors.

Redefining so significantly the way people interact with government will require a great deal of effort and technological upgrade. In recognition of the need to monitor this process closely and transparently, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced on Friday the country's five best government digital services, as well as five others that are most in need of improving. The latter have been given 90 days to show a change for the better.

Top performers include some of the largest government departments, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Co-operation and the Ministry of Interior, which was rated the best based in a public poll of 55,000 people. On its app, users can now access services from addressing traffic issues, to renewing company licenses.

Etihad Airways' Airbus A380 set to operate to Mumbai next year. Courtesy Etihad *** Local Caption ***  bz04no-WEB-etihad-mumbai.jpg

The announcement came a few days after the government passed legislation to ease the questioning of ministers and senior officials when complaints are made against them, with the aim of increasing transparency and accountability. Taken together, this series of changes has the common goal of creating a government that can carry out effectively the demands put on it by an ambitious policy programme.

Just today, one such major policy is being carried out with the help of digitisation. Abu Dhabi will start allowing fully vaccinated travellers from any international destination quarantine-free entry into the emirate. The decision is one of the most significant indications yet that Abu Dhabi is on a cautious and evidence-based road to reopening.

Visitors will still be subject to certain hygiene measures, including mandatory PCR test regimens that correspond to a passenger's point of departure.

Alongside physical testing, the government is also using digital technology to support the safe implementation of this change in policy. Passengers flying into the emirate are required to register with the Federal Authority For Identity and Citizenship (ICA) application before they commence their journey, in order that they receive green status on another key app, Al Hosn, the cornerstone of Abu Dhabi's policy to keep public spaces safe from Covid-19.

At a briefing on Thursday to announce 50 new UAE projects that are set to be unveiled this month, Sheikh Mohammed summarised the importance of constant updates in government services for one key reason: time. “The UAE does not have the luxury of time and will not wait for global conditions to make its future," he said.

The passage of time is one of life's realities that has been changed most by the digital age. On a practical level, countries and companies that have embraced it, as well as other technological advances, have won game-changing competitive advantages in a global economy where coming top of the pack often depends on speed. On a personal one, communication with friends and family is no longer dependent on letters that take weeks to arrive.

And while digitisation will not change everything about the way the UAE works, we can be certain about one thing: from resident to visitor, it will save us precious time.

Published: September 05, 2021, 3:00 AM