Telecoms & IT

Dreaming of Electric Sheep

Staying Ahead in ICT

Qatar's reputation as a regional ICT innovator is allowing it to stay ahead of the pack, and its official strategies are set to uphold this position.

Qatar is actively trying to stay ahead of its neighbors by pouring funds into its ICT sector. A range of initiatives aimed at attracting established international firms and encouraging native Qatari start—ups and SMEs fall under the Qatar National ICT Plan 2015, a broad set of policies designed to “advance the digital agenda.” In concrete terms, this involves doubling the ICT contribution to GDP to $3 billion, doubling the workforce employed in the sector to 40,000, achieving an overall internet penetration rate of 90%, installing high-speed internet access across the whole country, and integrating the operations of 160 official departments into the Hukoomi online e-government portal.

The nation’s large reserves of capital are allowing it to make unprecedented advances in a sector which, though relatively new for the region, is promising sustainable growth in the future. The authors of the plan realize that a robust ICT sector is a crucial foundation for a knowledge economy. Key programs, such as the widespread deployment of infrastructure, support for innovative services and devices for the Arabic-speaking world and beyond, and the implementation of integrated health and education services with computer systems are all major drivers of the plan.

Ultimately, however, the training and encouragement of the general population, in particular students and young people, is at the heart of the strategy. The introduction of computer technology throughout schools and centers of higher learning will help to prepare students for a life of using IT, and may transform Qatar into a hub of digital technology. Mark Leppard, Principal of Doha College, commented in a TBY interview that “within the next three years, the school will be converted to complete-tablet technology.” He stressed the recurring theme heard from professionals involved in implementing IT solutions, however, claiming that the core revolves around human resources. “Other schools have implemented this technology, but have not invested the same amount in training. It is about how the technology is used.”

Besides ensuring above—average training and introducing advanced IT solutions, Qatar is developing state-of-the-art equipment and concepts. MEEZA serves as the state’s Managed Service Provider, utilizing their LEED-certified national data centers—M-VAULTs 1, 2, and 3—to serve computer users throughout Qatar. They began offering cloud services as far back as 2008, and this cutting-edge field of computing has been expanded ever since. Carnegie Mellon has a research department for cloud computing, as do other research bodies in the state.

In 2013, one year after the Doha event, the ITU ranked Qatar as 31st in the world in its IDI Development Index, based on national ICT access, use and skills among the population, and comparisons to previous years. This position places it, for yet another year, ahead of neighbors UAE at 33rd, Bahrain at 39th, and Saudi Arabia at 50th; Qatar continues to shine as the IT leader of the Gulf. This global recognition for its ever-strengthening sector will be sustained provided the goals of the 2015 plan are reached, and provided Qataris keep logging on.

You may also be interested in...


Health & Education

Brains Boxes

How has Qatar Foundation helped shape the human capital of the nation?

View More


Be There or Be Square

Doha will capitalize on the legacy of the World Cup to transform itself into a MICE tourism hub.

View More


Food in the Basket

Qatar has achieved one of the highest levels of food security in the world.

View More

Real Estate & Construction

The Backbone

Qatar's real estate market is exceeding expectations.

View More
View All Articles