On behalf of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, launched the UAE Government portal (government.ae) on the first day of Gitex 2010.
The portal is part of the federal e-Government programme and another success in the e-Transformation process in the UAE. It combines all government services offered to individuals and businesses.
Salem Al Shair, Director-General, General Information Authority, explained that the unified portal of the UAE Government is an important step towards achieving the UAE Vision 2021. The Vision stresses the importance of effective coordination and cooperation among federal and local entities in order for the UAE to be one of the best countries in the world when it celebrates the golden jubilee of the Union in 2021.
Al Shair said: "I am proud and honoured that we at the GIA along with our brothers at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) have been assigned the task of implementing the e-Government strategy in the UAE. We are determined to working together as one team in order to take this national project further until we achieve one connected government. The UAE has always been a leader in e-Transformation and having a unified portal is in line with the UAE Government Strategy 2011-2013 which promotes an accountable, lean, innovative, and forward-looking government", he added.
In addition to the English domain government.ae, the portal can be accessed through the domain name (.emarat) using Arabic leters. Using the Arabic domain name proves that while the Government is determined to keep up with the latest in e-Transformation, it maintains its national identity and culture. The The move also helps the government communicate with a wide user segment that was reluctant to use the Internet because of the language barrier.
DG General Information Authority highlighted the main features of the portal which will help the UAE regain its advanced position in international competitiveness reports, especially in e-readiness. The UAE has dropped 17 places according to the UN's 2010 e-Government Readiness Index. One of the main reasons behind this decline was the absence of a unified federal e-Government platform.
Government.ae is the only official site that combines federal government services as well as services offered by individual emirates. It is a practical embodiment that the seven emirates are 'United in Knowledge', as stated in the UAE Vision 2021.
The new federal e-government portal adopts many Web 2.0 features, providing a variety of interactive channels between the Government and the public. Users can participate in different opinion polls and rate different existing and suggested services, facilities or policies using the 'Rate by Pearls' feature. In addition, users can evaluate individual services and voice their opinions and concerns directly to decision makers in order to help improve the services.
Another feature the new portal provides is 'personalisation'. User can keep their most used services in a virtual wallet called 'My Government Services'.
Similarly, personal e-mail accounts such as Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail can be accessed from a single point called 'My e-mails'. Social network accounts such as facebook, twitter, etc, are grouped together under 'My Forums'. In its effort to promote transparency, the UAE government portal provides a 'Government Index' which includes 'federal entities', 'local entities' and 'government officials'.
The last component displays the names, emails, photos and even links to the social network pages of different government officials.
Al Shair explained that using Emirates ID cards to register on the portal is the first step on the way of achieving a 'Connected Government' that is the main goal the e-government team is working to achieve.