UAE to launch e-services for visas, residence permits
The UAE Interior Ministry recently announced that it would soon introduce e-services during the next few months for visas and residence permits, which would be available on the Internet and through UAE embassies abroad in addition to shopping malls and petrol stations across the country. Brigadier Mohammed Salim bin Awaida Al Khaily, Director of Naturalisation and Residency at the Interior Ministry, during a presentation of the e-services and solutions, said, “The e-services and solutions system would expedite and simplify procedures and ease burden on both the people and employees. This unique project, which is being implemented in phases, is the first of its kind in the region, if not the world.”
The UAE nationals, expatriate residents, and the public and private sectors would be able to avail the e-services. The system would enable them to submit different naturalisation and residency applications through the Internet and UAE embassies abroad. Significantly, the e-services system would also help detect any forgeries in travel documents. Various payment options such as through smart credit cards, e-Dirham, banking transfers and deduction from the client’s bank account by the accredited bank are also available. It is learnt that through the new e-services the employee would be able to process 2,000 transactions daily instead of only 100 transactions by the traditional system.
In Saudi Arabia, public sector adopt IT usage vigorously
According to 2005 Net Impact study co-sponsored by Cisco Systems and the Saudi Ministry for Communications and Information Technology, the public sector departments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have adopted the use of Information Technology significantly thereby boosting customer satisfaction by 44% in 2005. “The number of enquiries that employees were able to resolve had risen by 38% and the number of citizens using services had gone up by 34%, all higher figures than found in Europe. At the same time, the country’s public sector outpaces European countries in the adoption of technologies such as content caching (seen in 50% of cases), and remote disaster recovery sites (45%). Saudi Arabian departments were also leading the way in the adoption of technology ‘best practices’, with 95% using finance and accounting applications and 79% having a Web interface for workforce collaboration and training,” the study pointed out. Altogether, 38 Saudi Arabian public sector organisations were interviewed, 52% of which were in government and 48% in healthcare.
Mohamed J. Mulla, Saudi Arabia Minister of Communications and Inormation Technology, said, “This research clearly demonstrates that various public sector organisations in Saudi Arabia are advanced in many aspects of applications, networking and technology. These examples of best practices are focusing on accelerating the speed at which their organisations operate and on expanding citizen, private sector services capacity using existing resources. We must all aim to follow these examples to drive the productivity of our nation and keep on investing in our infrastructure and our citizens. For these reasons, Saudi Arabia has launched a national e-Government program (www.yesser.gov.sa) to facilitate and enable rapid adoption of various e-Government concepts and applications.”
PwC bags Bahrain’s e-Government contract
The Kingdom of Bahrain has commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to develop e-Government strategies and managing advanced executive programmes. Shaikh Ahmed bin Ateyatalla Al Khalifa, Cabinet Affairs Minister and Central Informatics and Organisation head, said, “Pricewaterhouse-Coppers would map out a long-term strategy, overhaul governmental procedures and assess the current e-infrastructure. The firm would also conduct a comprehensive survey on the best ways to boost electronic services,” and added, “Work is also set to start soon on designing an electronic gate as part of a medium-term track. The e-gate would provide three basic services: process traffic fines, renew expired driving licences and register job-seekers.”
The e-Government project would be implemented in four phases. All information would be released on government websites with procedural clarification in the first phase, while the second phase would enable citizens to process all applications via government websites that includes the printing of application forms and later submitting them in person or via the post. Under the third phase, all government transactions would be e-processed via the Internet, mobile phones or any other e-outlet. Finally, in the fourth phase all government departments would be unified through the e-gate.
Doha Bank’s 10th eBranch opens
Doha Bank in the State of Qatar recently announced the opening of its 10th eBranch at the Abu Hamour petrol station in Messaimeer. The ergonomically designed branch, which has Dbank dual ATMs (for both withdrawal and deposit), Dbank Online (Internet banking) and Dbank Dial (phone banking) besides tellers, would offer all banking services to small and large companies and business establishments in the Old Rayyan area.
R. Seetharaman, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, said, “Doha Bank’s strategy to tap new localities to introduce electronic banking has resulted in eBranches being introduced in key areas. The Messaimeer eBranch will play an important role in usage of electronic channels of banking.”
Dubai Municipality’s e-Government assessed at Map Middle East 2006
During the recently held Map Middle East 2006, Eng. Hussain Nasser Lootah, Acting Director General of Dubai Municipality, highlighted Dubai Municipality’s e-Government initiative. Speaking at the Plenary Session on the third day of the Conference, Lootah, while presenting a paper on Dubai Municipality’s e-Government, said, “Dubai Municipality has so far achieved more than 1.6 million online transactions and collected over AED14mn (US$3.81mn) through e-payments. The Municipality now offer 381 Online services and has over 17,000 registered business users.”
Lootah added, “Dubai Municipality has re-engineered, developed and deployed the bilingual DM portal, which offers 93 informational services and 238 transactional services with an average of 17,000 transactions per week. The portal offers engineering services for contractors and contractors, laboratory testing services, services for food traders and food handlers, public services such as parking fines payment, etc. It has a secure online registration service, online payment facility through credit cards and e-Dirham Card. Besides the portal has also introduced email and SMS as customer communication channels and launched free e-Service Training programme for external customers.”
According to Lootah, the Dubai e-Government has adopted a four-step implementation approach involving Strategy, Process, People and Technology. The ongoing e-Government projects include provision of online planning permits, building permits and environmental approvals for industrial projects, waste management services among several others.
Two e-services portals launched by Abu Dhabi Municipality
As part of its ongoing e-Government initiatives, Abu Dhabi Municipality recently announced the official launch of two major e-services portals — the Facilities Maintenance and Management Systems (FMMS) Portal and the Building Permits System (BLS) Portal, at the Construct Abu Dhabi 2006 exhibition. The two portals have been initiated under the Department of Municipalities and Agriculture Computerisation Project.
The FMMS portal, which features different applications that automate processes such as maintenance work requests and approvals, payments, preventive maintenance etc., would provide customers, contractors and consultants with support and technical information related to their business transactions with the Maintenance and Operations Directorate in a more efficient, beneficial, and collaborative manner. The BLS Portal, which would contain information about the services provided by the Building Permits Directorate, regulations and guidelines for building, planning, laws, and fees, would enable consultants, building contractors and owners to obtain building permits, licenses for building and construction works, and various other licenses online.
By 2007, Dubai Municipality’s 90% of services to be online
Aiming to benefit customers and help save time and resources, Dubai Municipality (DM) has decided to put 90% of its services online, and is currently started reviewing its online service strategy to increase the number of clients. Hussain Lootah, Acting Director-General of Dubai Municipality, said, “We have entered phase four of the e-Government initiative and are having a total revamp of e-government IT infrastructure. The Municipality hopes to reach its target of having 90% of its services online and at least 50% online transactions by 2007, and accordingly reviewing our strategy.”
Lootah pointed out, “As part of its fourth phase, the Municipality has launched a new set of online services as part of its e-Government initiative, taking the total number of online services to 381. The new services include some 42 services related to the Building Licensing Section of the civic body’s Building Department in such fields as obtaining permission for amendments to existing buildings and licences for excavation work. There would be no manual services once all the 101 services of the building department were available online by the end of this year.”