In 2003, Dubai launched its e-government initiative, which has resulted in 2000 government services now being offered online.

In January 2005, Riyadh announced its Yesser programme, an electronic portal to raise productivity and efficiency in the public sector.

It now has a dedicated Information & Communications Technology Ministry and residents across the kingdom are using e-government services in innovative ways, even processing re-entry visas via text message.

The common thread behind the GCC states’ e-government initiatives is that they must be service-driven and customer-centric. As GCC citizens are offered more efficient customer service in the private sector, governments have followed the example set by the region’s corporates.

As a result, e-government could prove to be the first stage in wider use of technology in the Gulf. The challenge for the GCC governments now is to create supporting laws, networks and call centres that make up the fabric of a truly effective ICT infrastructure.