I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.
As users get more comfortable with the transacting online, governments are finding they can do more, more efficiently. That's certainly the case in the UAE where Dubai is extending egovernment to visitors and Abu Dhabi is training users to maximise their usage of government services online.
The Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department is rolling out the welcome mat online with a new service to allow residents and visitors to receive entry permits and visas by SMS or email. The mobile visa scheme will also extend to people planning to visit the Emirate. Dubai has long been committed to providing government services online and has so far taken about 60% of its services online and plans to reach 90% this year.
Over in Abu Dhabi, encouragement of use of egovernment is going even further with the launch of the eCitizen programme, which aims to train users to apply technology to their day-to-day transactions. The programme, which is being implemented in collaboration with the UAE Academy, already has its first batch of 2,500 students undergoing sessions in Dubai and plans to increase computer and internet literacy among the public and thereby maximise the use of the services Abu Dhabi already offers online. Candidates for the programme have been selected from a range of social groups with retirees, job seekers and women among the priorities.