Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leaders in digital transformation
Bahrain ranked third, Qatar ranked fifth, followed by Oman
MEED magazine revealed that Kuwait ranked fourth in the Arab world on its digital transformation index during the month of June, considering that it is the most cost-effective in terms of providing network services in the Gulf, but it is lagging behind in terms of digital regulation.
MEED’s latest digital transformation index showed a wide gap between GCC members and non-Gulf countries in overall network capacity and speeds, connectivity, stability of electrical networks that support digital infrastructure, network assessments and digital readiness, and regulatory efficiency.
Collectively, these metrics provide a leading indicator of preparedness at the country level to deliver the technologies of the digital future, including the capabilities of the “5G” network needed to deal with the rapid proliferation of connected devices expected with the emergence of the Internet of Things and the emergence of basic artificial technologies supported by automation.
Saudi Arabia ranked first on the index, followed by the UAE, as MEED considered them to be digital transformation leaders supported by positive “digital rise” assessments from the European Center for Digital Competitiveness, in addition to the strong overall performance across almost all digital metrics.
She stated that the two countries have emerged in the region in terms of network readiness and cybersecurity, but the only factor that hinders them marginally is the price of their digital networks, with broadband services and expensive mobile data services, according to regional and global standards.
She stated that all Gulf countries offer grid pricing structures similar to those in the remote Pacific islands, which are very expensive due to the cost of building submarine cables and laying them in isolated locations.
MEED indicated that the digital leaders, namely Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are taking applied frameworks to advance their digital economies, as Riyadh launched its ICT strategy 2023 and the National Digital Transformation Strategy (2020-24), in addition to the Saudi Vision 2030.
At the same time, she added, the UAE’s digital economy strategy aims to double the contribution of the digital economy to the gross domestic product by 2031, in line with the UAE government’s digital strategy 2025.
MEED stated that after the two regional digital leaders, Bahrain comes in third, also performing well in most metrics, but is slightly weaker in terms of network speeds, readiness and cybersecurity, while Kuwait comes after it.
She indicated that Qatar and Oman, as “digital risers”, rank lower than several countries in the region with weaker infrastructure and fewer resources, as Qatar, like Kuwait, is poorly ranked in terms of digital regulation, but it is supported by a strong infrastructure, but Oman On the contrary, it has a weaker infrastructure, but its regulations are stronger.
Egypt is still the strongest competitor from outside the Gulf
MEED pointed out that Egypt is still the strongest competitor outside the Gulf in terms of digital transformation, and is the highest rated in the region as a “digital riser”, as other countries have infrastructure, while Egypt has human capital.
She indicated that Egypt has become a coding center for everything from basic software to the development of artificial intelligence. It also has digital regulations and strong cybersecurity, despite its weak infrastructure, public communication and network readiness.