In his speeches and public comments, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Amir of Qatar, has routinely stressed the importance of investing in human development.
As citizens and residents form one of Qatar’s most valuable resources, it is imperative to provide the skills necessary to prepare the digital transformation of the economy and enable them to contribute to future development.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) has for years been implementing initiatives and programmes aimed at building an integrated digital society and enhancing the digital skills of the Qatari people. The aim is to enable people of all social categories to contribute to the country’s economic and cultural development through safe and efficient use of technology.
These efforts started in 2014, when the ministry – then the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology or ictQATAR – launched the digital inclusion strategy to reach out to all sectors of society through a carefully thought-out programme of digital awareness, secure access to modern technology, and necessary training and support for all members of society.
Through its ‘digital inclusion’ strategy, the ministry sought to reach out to those at risk of digital exclusion through awareness, access, training and support. The strategy identified six categories of people at risk of digital exclusion:
- Non-working Qatari women and women with low ICT skills
- School dropouts/students who did not progress to higher education/young people with low ICT skills
- Small communities outside Doha
- Elders and retirees
- People with special needs
- Low-skilled labourers/domestic workers and service staff
Under this initiative, women were provided with a set of basic skills to enable them to use ICT. The initiative also increased women’s awareness of social media as a channel to promote small businesses, raised their awareness of e-government services such as Hukoomi, and improved their ability to access services online.
The ministry has also expanded its iParks initiative, which was launched in 2007 to provide free connectivity to visitors of public parks in the country. The number of users of these networks has since been on a near-constant increase.
MOTC has pursued a large number of programmes that promote digital inclusion for migrant workers, the most prominent of which is the ‘Better Connections’ programme, which helps employers provide ICT access by setting up computer halls in worker residences. The Ministry has also worked with employers to increase training opportunities for workers and develop content in six different languages so that all workers and employees can benefit.
Reem Al Mansoori, Assistant Undersecretary for Digital Society Development Affairs at MOTC, said that they are keen to equip and prepare the Qatari society adopt the latest technologies. She said that this is part of their commitment to create an integrated digital society with equal access to technology.
In conjunction with the growing use of the internet and social media platforms in the country, the Ministry continues its intensive efforts to raise awareness of cybersecurity. This is being achieved through the roll out of programmes, initiatives and campaigns aimed at raising awareness of internet safety and expanding internet reach among the various segments of Qatari society, most notably the cyber safety learning programme – Haseen and the Ammen Taslam campaign.
Initiatives also include the ‘Guide to Ethical Responsibility in a Digital World’ and the SafeSpace platform to help parents and teachers to protect children online.
MOTC is strengthening its strategic partnerships with other ministries and key investors in the communications and technology sector through initiatives such as the Digital Incubation Center, which managed to train 1,162 entrepreneurs and provide 402 jobs through incubated companies since its establishment.
The Ministry also launched the programme, Digital Transformation of SME, to enable startups use technology, thus supporting their digital transformation and promoting awareness of benefits of digital solutions and modern technology in the business sector, serving more than 5,000 companies by end of 2019.
The 5th edition of QITCOM will be held under the slogan ‘Safe, Smart Cities’, with participation of over 100 speakers and 412 local and international exhibitors. The conference will witness the signing and launch of about 200 new initiatives, partnerships and agreements for the development of the digital society aimed at supporting plans to create an innovative and sustainable digital society in Qatar.
The high-profile event will also see the closing of many contracts and commercial deals for the most prominent projects of the country. During the conference, the latest digital initiatives will be announced and multiple agreements with international companies will be signed. QITCOM will provide an avenue to showcase the many investment opportunities available in the Qatari market.