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Gulf urged to develop local skills for future ICT growth

Expert comments on ranking of Gulf nations in a global IT competitiveness report by World Economic Forum

Middle Eastern countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar need to improve local skills to reap the full benefit of ICT investments in the region, advised the executive director of international business school INSEAD’s research arm.

INSEAD and the World Economic Forum recently came out with their annual Global Information Technology Report, where the UAE was ranked 27 out of 134 economies worldwide. While the UAE topped other MENA countries, Qatar (29) was close behind, followed by Bahrain (37), Tunisia (38) and Saudi Arabia (40).

“The Middle East is one the fastest across all regions in the world to move up in the e-readiness rankings,” Bruno Lanvin, executive director at INSEAD’s eLab told itp.net.

He points out that, in comparison with other regions in the world, Gulf countries have a relatively small population and rely on external expertise to drive ICT and the economy in general.

“What we see is that the key to the future of these countries would be the ability to develop local skills. That is, when one starts to see more engineers, programmers, architects and managers who are Emarati or Qatari, it will make a difference,” stated Lanvin.

The report, which analyses each country using different indices, threw up an interesting finding – the UAE didn’t fare well in the category that analysed the technicalities and red tape involved in enforcing ICT procedures (coming 125 out of 134).

Regardless, Lanvin is confident of the Middle East’s steady growth in the global IT arena, even through the financial downturn. Countries such as Qatar and UAE, where the vision expressed by leadership recognises the importance of ICT and knowledge, show a lot of promise.

“Understand that we don’t know how long the crisis will be. We know that the world after the crisis will be different from the one we’ve known before the crisis.”

“One of those differences will have to be knowledge – so whoever will have positioned itself as a knowledge intensive economy stands a much better chance to be ahead of the pack when the crisis finally ends,” concluded Lanvin.