E-government in Saudi Arabia makes huge advances amid pandemic

Al-Asiri said that this digital transformation was only possible with strategic vision and policies. (SPA)
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Updated 04 June 2020

E-government in Saudi Arabia makes huge advances amid pandemic

RIYADH: E-government experts recently gathered for a virtual “meetup” during which they discussed how countries with advanced e-services managed to continue to serve their citizens successfully during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

Organized by the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and titled “The shape of e-government during and after the pandemic,” the meeting highlighted the important role that e-government played during the lockdown and how varied models helped employment e-platforms in providing services for all. It was a lesson for many countries to accelerate their digital transformation.

Moderated by ICT Coordinator at the UN Development Program Dany Wazen, the meeting’s guest speakers included Ali Al-Asiri, CEO at the Saudi e-government program Yesser, Mohammed Ali Al-Qaed, chief executive of the information and e-government authority in Bahrain, Dr. Aisha bin Bishr, director general at Smart Dubai Office and Andy Main, global head of Deloitte Digital.

The experts said that during the crisis governments introduced a hyper-connected world, which brought many opportunities for them to provide electronic accessibility and public services to their citizens through digital platforms.

Al-Asiri said that this digital transformation was only possible with strategic vision and policies, ICT infrastructure, connected society and skilled human capital.

The fundamental objective of e-government is to offer public services to citizens in an efficient, real-time, transparent, secure and cost-effective manner, it was agreed.

Al-Asiri highlighted Saudi Arabia’s successful digital transformation to home-based remote work to contain COVID-19.

Ali Al-Asiri, CEO of Yesser

“We were very successful in working from home and this was possible because of ongoing digital transformation in the Kingdom as part of Vision 2030,” he said, noting that Saudi Arabia has taken great strides in its digital transformation, ranked 41 out of 193 countries around the world in the UN’s most recent e-government development index.

The new realities of staying at home, social distancing, teleworking and remote learning are urging governments across the globe to make a rapid digital transformation to provide easy use of e-services for citizens, simplifying compliance of governmental laws for citizens, improving citizen engagement and trust and decreasing fraud and operational cost, he said.

Bishr mentioned digital transformation initiatives such as Smart Dubai and Dubai Pulse that were imperative in harnessing the power of emerging and enabling technologies such as AI, blockchain, cloud computing and big data for sustainable and productive growth to overcome the prevailing challenges of our society, she said.

The experts agreed that on this journey of digital transformation governments need to pay great attention to cybersecurity, resilience, incident response, awareness and business continuity practices to provide uninterrupted and secure e-services to connected communities.

The meeting was held under the auspices of ThinkTech, an MCIT initiative that explores technology developments, looking to achieve sustainable development and build an innovative and informed generation in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

Saudi Arabia opens world’s largest camel hospital

Qassim Gov. Prince Faisal bin Mishaal, left, during a briefing on the world’s largest camel hospital that he inaugurated in Buraidah on Sunday. (SPA)
Updated 07 July 2020

Saudi Arabia opens world’s largest camel hospital

  • The emir also toured sheds spread over a large area which can accommodate 4,000 riding camels at the same time

Qassim Gov. Prince Faisal bin Mishaal on Sunday inaugurated the world’s biggest camel hospital in Buraidah. The Salam Veterinary Hospital will also have a modern research facility to diagnose diseases related to camels.
The governor said the project worth SR100 million is a national achievement and it will help enhance veterinary facilities in the Kingdom.
Prince Faisal toured the facility’s specialized central laboratories equipped with modern devices to conduct over 160 different types of analyses.
The emir also toured sheds spread over a large area which can accommodate  4,000 riding camels at the same time.
He was briefed on the model for the young camels unit, the ICU, CT scan unit, and the surgical theaters. The hospital is constructed on an area of 70,000 sq. meters.
Among the goals for establishing the hospital is to bring about a shift in embryology and the traditional fertilization process of camels, whose age ranges between 25 to 30 years. At present, they produce seven young camels per season. Additionally, the hospital will contribute to raising the rate of fetal production in camels from 100 fetuses to 700.