Regulating digital transformation in Saudi Arabia
Like elsewhere around the world, Saudi Arabia is witnessing a digital transformation.
Not very long ago, the digital transformation was limited to the world of business and security. But now we are experiencing a sea change in the way we lead our lives. It would not be wrong to say that now several aspects of our personal lives heavily rely on different apps.
Digital transformation is also a key goal of the Vision 2030 reform plan. Since the announcement of the 2030 road map for the Kingdom, we have witnessed huge changes in the way we used to deal with financial institutions and government entities.
Initially, many of us felt uneasy but now we are becoming used to the ease that comes with this digital transformation, as we no longer have to wait in long queues to get trivial matters sorted out at the bank or a government institution. Most of the services are just a click away or can be done through an app.
Due to the rapidly changing situation, it is necessary to regulate all matters related to digitization and digitalization processes. Therefore, the Kingdom launched the Digital Government Authority (DGA) to serve as an umbrella organization for all digital matters in Saudi Arabia.
In today’s article, we shall highlight the scope and powers of the authority.
First of all, it is important to get acquainted with the definition of digitization, as knowing the basic concepts from the regulator’s point of view will certainly correct our understanding of all relevant terms and determine their actual purpose.
We will start with the most popular term, which is digital transformation. It means transforming and developing business models strategically to become digital models based on data, technology, and communication networks. Hence the role of digital government in supporting administrative, organizational, and operational processes within and between government entities to achieve digital transformation, develop, improve and enable easy and effective access to government information and services.
All of the above is supposed to be carried out in accordance with specific criteria, meaning a set of rules and controls regulating the operations and tasks related to digital governance approved by this newly formed authority.
Another interesting term is the government digital market platform, which means a platform that enables government agencies to purchase and provide services and technical assets — such as software, hardware, communications services, managed services, and cloud services — and the completion of purchases, payments, and receipts through the electronic portal for government competitions and procurement.
Some time ago, a unified national portal was launched, which provides all government digital services from various sectors through a unified portal and application or through a unified service center.
To provide safety of use, we have the new Digital Trust Services, which refers to any electronic service that aims to verify the validity and integrity of electronic transactions and the identity of customers, including digital signatures, digital seals, and time stamps.
The DGA is the competent authority in everything related to digital government.
To ensure the achievement of digital government goals and sustainability of its business, this new authority is responsible for issuing indicators, tools, and reports to measure the performance and capabilities of government agencies in the field of digital governance.
• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif