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The Saudi government must keep pace with technological advances if the Kingdom is to stay on course to become the digital hub of the region, a major international conference has been told.

More than 200 executive directors of information technology from government departments throughout Saudi Arabia, gathered in Riyadh to discuss digitization and how to adapt it to benefit society.

The Global Digital Government Summit, held at the capital’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, was organized by the new Saudi e-Government program, Yesser, under the title “Putting Citizens First.”

The forum focused on the future of government services and explored how authorities around the world are leveraging digital technology to move toward a unified and citizen-friendly service delivery model.

Welcoming delegates to the opening of the summit on Monday, Ali Al-Asiri, CEO of Yesser, said the Saudi government needed to re-evaluate its role in society and to review the services it delivered.

Al-Asiri said the gathering was “very important to our country, the future of our country, and the future of all countries and societies. The world has changed in the past decade at a speed that has not been seen for centuries.

“We are witnessing technological changes that have far-reaching implications on society, and what has an impact on society has to have an impact on the government.”

The chief executive drew attention to the latest technological advances that have impacted society over the past decade, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, and highlighted how Saudi Arabia could utilize them to enhance government activities and improve quality of life in the country.

He added that the organization of health care and education in the country had seen little change since the industrial revolution and pointed to how digitization could help the Saudi government update its structure to better adapt to the modern era.

“These advancements come with important societal challenges, and governments must adapt, today, in order to maximize the social benefits to their citizens. And not enough has changed,” Al-Asiri told conference attendees.

Saudi Minister of Telecommunication and IT Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha said in a statement that the Kingdom was a prime location to stage the summit.

“The Kingdom is on the way to becoming the digital hub of the region, executing it in a visionary, agile, and remarkable fashion powered by its talent.”

The government forum kicked off on Monday evening with networking and a gala dinner, followed by an all-day event on Tuesday that featured panels of international digitization experts.

Speakers included Swedish journalist, author, and digital futurist Andreas Ekstrom, practice manager of governance global practice at the World Bank, Renaud Seligmann, and deputy director of the analytic center of the Russian government, Mikhail Pryadilnikov.

Ekstrom gave a presentation on the future of digital transformation and its impact on humanity, public service provision, and government policymaking.

The summit is planned to be held annually in Saudi Arabia as a way to gather local and international experts in the field to discuss further developments in government digitization.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Hala Tashkandi

Quelle/Source: Arab New, 01.05.2019

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