Interview with Salem Al-Shair, eServices Director at Dubai e-Government

Salem Al-ShairIt is a real honour for eGovBlog to present today the following exclusive interview with Mr. Salem Al-Shair, eServices Director at Dubai e-Government.

Salem Al-Shair is a key international personality in the field of eGovernment. In the year 2000 he was appointed Member of Dubai’s eGovernment Executive Team, chaired by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, with the goal of building an eStrategy for the Departments of Dubai Government. The Team delivered quickly on this critical mission, with Salem Al-Shair being appointed Director of eServices at Dubai eGovernment. More recently in 2006 he was honoured with the title of ‘Young CEO of the Year’ at the Middle East CEO of the Year Awards.

We want to thank Mr. Salem Al-Shair and his team for making this contact possible.

eGB: Can you give us a few insights about the eGovernment strategy of Dubai?

Salem Al-Shair: Dubai eGovernment (DEG) Strategy is very much aligned with the eGovernment vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, which intends to “Ease the lives of people and businesses interacting with the government and contribute in establishing Dubai as a leading economic hub”. In order to achieve this vision, DEG has formulated various strategies as summarized below:

  • Deliver customer focused high quality eServices from multiple innovative channels.
  • Implement modern public services through administrative simplification and reduction of red tape.
  • Enhance customer satisfaction and awareness for eServices.
  • Foster customer trust and confidence.
  • Innovate and implement synergistic (shared) services to achieve efficiencies and faster implementation.
  • Enhance the requisite skills and competencies of our human capital.

Our customer focused strategic directions include eEnablement of all the Dubai Government services through multiple electronic channels and increase customers’ participation and usage of eServices. Also, we aim to provide simplified high-quality eServices to the satisfaction of our customers.

At the operational efficiency side, we are capturing synergies through enablement of commonly used (shared) services. This ensures individual departments to focus their efforts on delivering their core eServices to the public. We provide synergistic services like ePay, AskDubai, mDubai, eSurvey and eHost for all the government entities. The departments can use these services to reduce their operational costs and enhance efficiencies while expediting their implementation timelines and leveraging on best practices.

eGB: What would you consider to be the biggest success of Dubai eGovernment so far and why?

Salem Al-Shair: Currently, more than 75% of government services are provided electronically, which is one of the many achievements we have over the years. We have enabled approximately 10 synergistic services, which resulted in more than AED 70 million cost savings for the Government of Dubai. We have moved up to the 5th stage in eGovernment (seamless stage) based on the United Nations evaluation approach. We are already handling electronic financial transactions as part of our eServices delivery.

eGB: Do you believe Internet and other ICT have the power to fundamentally change and improve the way governments are conducted?

Salem Al-Shair: ICT has already changed the ways governments have been doing their business. Use of ICT has brought more transparency into the overall service delivery process by introducing the concept of “single door to government”. The use of ICT has allowed the citizens to interact with their government anytime from anywhere.

eGB: In your experience, what can be done to ensure that those who lack ICT skills can take part in these processes?

Salem Al-Shair: As far as eGovernment initiatives are concerned, major challenges & hurdles include gaining acceptance of IT and telecommunications in modern day life. Through our e4all community outreach program, we sponsor family events, where we promote basic concepts of IT and eGovernance. We also have eLearning and eCitizenship programs for the community, who are also made aware of the benefits of eServices through our widely distributed e4all monthly magazine. We are now focusing on users who might not have access or knowledge of either technology, and might be hampered by poor browsing & keyboard skills. We plan to set up touch-screen public kiosks located in shopping malls and other convenient locations with free access to the eGovernment Portal.

eGB: What are in your view the main challenges or barriers Dubai faces to implement its eGovernment strategy and vision?

Salem Al-Shair: While we work closely with all the government departments it is always a challenge to align all of them with the overall government strategy. Different departments are at a different stage of maturity in terms of eGovernment. Earlier, we faced challenges in terms of human capital, processes and technology in our initiative. Dubai eGovernment has invested significant amount of time and resources to boost its skills and competencies required for eGovernment implementation.

eGB: Finally, how do you imagine the public administration of Dubai will look like in 20 years due to the development of eGovernment?

Salem Al-Shair: We foresee Dubai public administration to achieve a globally competitive status in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. This entails attaining customer focus and operational efficiency. We envisage our customers to interact exclusively through innovative channels with our public eServices which are streamlined and simplified with lean regulations. Customer participation and satisfaction will reach very high levels.

Dubai public administration will be a key partner of the private sector in attaining competitive industries and it will also play a key role in achieving social development coupled with modern services. We intend to achieve all these while improving our public sector productivity through adoption of ICT and best practices in management and eServices.

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