Regional Profile of the Information Society in the Arab Region, 2003-2015 - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia



ESCWA Publication: E/ESCWA/TDD/2015/3

Country: Arab region

Publication Type: Reports & studies

Publication Subject: Regional Profile of the Information Society in the Arab Region

Cluster: Statistics, Information Society and Technology

Focus Area: Technology & innovation

Initiatives: Digital Arabic Content, Digital Development

SDGs: Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Keywords: Arab countries, Developing countries, Digital divide, Information society, Information technology, Knowledge-based economy, North africa, Sustainable development, Telecommunications, Business, Internet, Statistical data, Regional cooperation, Knowledge-based economy, Culture, Mobile telecommunication services, Computer security, Capacity building, Communication technology, Information services, Information society, Information technology, Digital divide

Regional Profile of the Information Society in the Arab Region, 2003-2015

January 2016

While the nations of the world were preparing to adopt new development goals after the deadline for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, the increasing digital divide between developed and developing countries was of great concern. The divide has led to the marginalization and impoverishment of the economies of developing countries and to their exclusion from the global economy. Developing countries are still stumbling in building the information society that can place them on the path to the knowledge economy and to their integration into the global economy. The Arab region still needs to strengthen its capacity to produce, manage and exchange information in order to develop its information society and bring about the necessary change in the areas of education, health, trade, culture, policymaking and other elements that contribute to social and economic development.

Those issues are examined in the 2015 Regional Profile of the Information Society in the Arab Region. This publication presents an overview of information and communications technology policies, strategies and infrastructure in the Arab countries; access to information and knowledge; capacity-building; enabling environment; digital Arabic content; the Arabic software industry; Arabic domain names; and regional cooperation in building the information society. It also identifies the post-2015 development priorities in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. The report concludes with recommendations aimed at promoting progress towards building a knowledge society in the Arab region.

"This report provides comprehensive details regarding the evolution of the information society gained over the past 13 years in the Arab World. It is visible from the report that many Arab countries have achieved a significant progress in fields like infrastructure, enabling environment, increasing the accessibility and usability of information. However, we still did not decrease significantly the digital gap with developed counties.  This report gives us a push towards more work and cooperation to empower, develop and improve the information and telecommunication society. Hence, we are required to start immediately the planning and implementation processes especially that we are facing a huge information and telecommunication revolution which includes Internet of Things, 5G and the big data.  I am quite confident that, in the Arab region, we can face the challenges as long as there is a will and ability." Allam Mousa, Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Palestine

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