Qatar appears at #28. The emirate has managed to create one of the best environments for entrepreneurship and innovation worldwide (2nd). This, coupled with the government’s strong commitment to boosting ICT-related infrastructure (27th) and spilling over the effects across the economy (34th) and society (21st), has allowed the country to rank in the top quarter of our sample. On a less positive note, the low levels of competition existing in the ICT and telecommunications sectors (122nd) are affecting the overall affordability of accessing ICT (111th), especially in terms of broadband (109th), hindering a wider diffusion and usage of ICT across the different agents in the country, such as broadband Internet subscriptions (57th).
#30 - United Arab Emirates, presents a profile similar to neighbouring Qatar’s. The government has shown a strong commitment to develop and prioritize ICT (7th) as one of the key engines to diversify its oil dependent economy, the country has managed to develop a good ICT-related infrastructure (25th) and a favourable framework for business and innovation (21st). The UAE shows fairly good innovation rates in the form of both new products and services (15th) and new organisational models (21st). However, the country could benefit further from expanding its overall skill base, especially by eradicating adult illiteracy (86th) and increasing tertiary education participation (85th). As in the case of Qatar, liberalizing the ICT and telecommunications markets (117th) would help reduce the high costs of accessing the Internet (94th).
Saudi Arabia at #34 has recognized the importance of ICT as a key driver of its economic transformation. A committed and strong government-led effort (5th) to prioritize ICT (14th) coupled with a favourable environment for business development (17th) has yielded fairly good results to get the country ready for the ICT revolution, especially in terms of infrastructure development (36th). However, boosting higher levels of competition to reduce the costs of communications (85th), improving the skill base by reducing adult illiteracy (98th), and increasing tertiary education participation (65th) should be the immediate priorities to further increase ICT uptake by all agents in the country.
#62 - Kuwait is the laggard in the region in terms of embracing ICT. Despite a fairly good ICT-related infrastructure development, the high costs of accessing it and the population’s relatively low level of skills are affecting the ICT readiness of the country. As a result, Kuwait depicts fairly poor rates of ICT usage (67th) that, coupled with a less business friendly environment for entrepreneurship (56th) than other Gulf Cooperation Council states, result in low levels of ICT impacts (93rd).
"Figure C illustrates the existence of a digital divide within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries stand out remarkably. Five of the GCC member countries place between the 27th (Bahrain) and 40th (Oman) ranks. Most of their governments have embraced ambitious digital strategies coupled with pro-business reforms and massive infrastructure developments as part of their efforts to attract foreign investors and to diversify their economies. This big government-led push is reflected in the strong performance achieved in several dimensions of the NRI where the government plays a critical role, including the creation of an environment and legal framework conducive to business and innovation, skills, and usage of ICT by the government. In those pillars, the GCC average score tends to be very close to the average of advanced economies. The rest of MENA presents a much bleaker picture, with Syria (129th), Mauritania (139th), and Yemen (141st) ranking among the worst performing countries globally."