The internet penetration rates in the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) will increase from 54.99% last year to 66.82 per cent by 2017, according to a new study revealed on Tuesday.
The first ever Arab Knowledge Economy Report 2014 is a joint study done by Madar Research and Development and Orient Planet with an aim to research and examine the components and characteristics of the Arab Knowledge Economy and its contribution towards the overall development of the region’s economy.
The number of internet users in the region stood at 28.08 million in 2013 compared to 26.4 million in 2012, registering a growth of 6.36%.
The report focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of the region’s economy along with the opportunities and risks associated with it.
The Arab World will experience around 13% growth in penetration rates this year while some countries will experience only 8% and some by around 17%. Some of today’s developing countries will be tomorrow’s vibrant economies in the global market, which makes investment in innovation and education critical for transformation to a knowledge-based economy.
The shift is highly significant in the Arab World, as it will enable a landscape of technological innovation, promote competitiveness, and empower local population with professional skills. Having realized the importance of knowledge-based economy in the socio-economic growth of a country, the GCC countries have launched their e-Governance programmes, while Dubai, on the other hand has entered into the next phase with the recent launch of Dubai Smart Governance.
The number of internet users in the Arab World is expected to reach 197 million by 2017, a penetration of over 51% from 34.92% in 2013. In 2012, the penetration rate stood at 32%.
Arab countries are heading towards knowledge economy by improving their education sector through the adoption of new technologies, investment in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure, building firm research and development programmes, and improvement in the overall business environment.
The public-private partnership (PPP) is required to ensure “smooth progress in knowledge-related indicators” and build an entrepreneurial culture that supports innovation.
The UAE leads the Middle East with a global ranking of 38 in overall innovation performance while Dubai is the first city in the region to establish first knowledge clusters, including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Knowledge Village.
Key insights from the report:
- The GCC countries comprise the 12th largest economic region in the world with a recorded Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 4.03 per cent in 2013. The GCC also dominates the Arab World with its GDP of USD 1640.83 billion in 2013. Overall, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) ranks first in the GCC and 19th in the world with USD 745.30 billion as GDP, followed by the UAE with a GDP of USD 398.32 billion.
- Qatar, with a population of 1.91 million, emerges as the richest country per capita in the GCC and the second richest in the world with USD 105,169 in 2013, followed by Kuwait with USD 47,265.
- In 2013, the GCC witnessed a population growth of 3.68 per cent with Qatar leading at 11.36 per cent, followed by the UAE at 5 per cent due to the large influx of foreign workers. The local population of the UAE and Qatar comprise of 13 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively, of the total population.
- The UAE topped the Knowledge Economy Index (KEI) among Arab countries, while it stood at 42 globally with a score of 6.94, closely followed by Bahrain at 6.9 and Oman at 6.14.
- To date, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have granted 858 patents to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, positioning it 29th in the world. Kuwait is at second place with 272 patents and Egypt at third with 212 patents, so far.
- Madar Research & Development and Orient Planet have created a new Arab e-Performance Index based on six important global indexes, which includes the Global Competitiveness Index, Networked Readiness Index (NRI), ICT Development Index (IDI), Global Innovation Index, Knowledge Economy Index (KEI), and e-Government Development Index. For the Arab e-Performance Index for 2013-2014, Bahrain leads the GCC with an average of 66.55 followed by the UAE at 65.68.
- Bahrain has topped the 2013 ICT-use Index with a score of 3.08. It has emerged among top five in all the ICT sectors, including first in the Internet user’s rate and second in mobile penetration level in the MENA region. Qatar takes the second place with 2.96, having the third highest mobile penetration and fourth in internet user’s rate.
- There were 111,721,020 internet users in 18 Arab countries in 2012, growing at a rate of 18.98 per cent as compared to 93,896,216 in 2011. The number of internet users in the region is expected to increase to about 197 million by 2017. Internet penetration in the Arab world is expected to surge from 32 per cent in 2012 to 51 per cent in 2017, amounting to three per cent above the world average.
- Adult literacy remains a major hurdle for the development of the information society and knowledge-based economy in the Arab region. In the age group of 15 and above, the literacy rate was nearly 77 per cent in 2011. Six countries, including Qatar’s 96.3 per cent and Jordan’s 95.9 per cent, have shown a success rate of 90 per cent and above for the period with. There is also a huge discrepancy between the male and female literacy rate, wherein the male literacy rate is around 85 per cent and only 68 per cent for females.
- The ICT price basket includes three tariff sets – fixed telephone, mobile phone and fixed broadband internet services. Qatar ranks first in the Arab World and 2nd globally when Gross National Income (GNI) is compared with the ICT price basket, with 0.4 per cent of monthly GNI per capita spent on ICT services. The UAE, on the other hand, ranks 2nd in the Arab World with 0.5 per cent spent on ICT services. When the minimum wage is compared with ICT price basket, Qatar ranks 11th in the Arab World with 12.2 per cent of minimum wage spent on ICT services while the UAE is at the bottom with 15.4 per cent of minimum wage spent on ICT services.
- In 2013, five Arab universities, including four from Saudi Arabia and one from Egypt, appeared on the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities. The universities are the King Saud University, the King Abdul Aziz University, the King Fahd University of Petroleum, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
The full report can be downloaded on the following link