UAE plans e-gov't overhaul

New portal will provide around 130 services to residents and businesses by end of 2009, minister says.

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By  Joel Bowman at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum Published  January 27, 2008

The UAE plans to launch a new e-portal that will deliver services to residents and businesses as the government looks to harness technology to spur economic growth in the Gulf Arab state, the minister of economy said Sunday.

Speaking at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in Abu Dhabi, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi said the portal would provide around 130 services to residents and businesses by the end of 2009.

The minister said it was imperative that the region keep pace with the developed world and continue to modernise its communication technologies.

"Information technology is fuelling the growth of the global economy," she told delegates during her keynote speech.

Sheikha Lubna also stressed the importance of creating knowledge-based economies in the wider region, and said the UAE should continue to play a key role in leading this transformation.

The minister said integrated e-governance increased government transparency and facilitated economic growth.

Mohammed Ahmed Abdul Aziz, undersecretary at the ministry of economy, told on the sidelines of the forum that the new web portal, which the government is working with Microsoft and Etisalat on, would be ready for launch the next couple of weeks.

The site is currently in final testing and is accessible through the government's existing e-portal for users to give feedback and comments, Aziz said.

The new site will initially run alongside the old site, which will phased out over the next couple of months, he said.

"We want it to be as user friendly as possible, so that even somebody using a computer for the first time will be able to understand the functions," he said.

"This new service will save a great deal of time and money for businesses and for people who need to access information efficiently."

The minister said there would be around 70 services available through the new portal by February.

Services include access to information about work permits, licenses, visas and other government information.

The UAE has an internet penetration rate of 31.5%, Sheikha Lubna said in her speech.

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