DOHA: The Shura Council held its regular weekly session in the Tamim bin Hamad Hall at the Council’s headquarters on Monday. It was chaired by Speaker of the Council HEHassan bin Abdullah Al Ghanim.

At the beginning of the session, Secretary-General of the Shura Council HE Nayef bin Mohammed Al Mahmoud read out the agenda, and the minutes of the previous session were approved.

The session was attended by Minister of Communications and Information Technology HE Mohammed bin Ali Al Mannai, in response to an invitation from Al Ghanim to talk about the ministry’s strategic plans, its plans for digital transformation in the services provided by ministries and government agencies, and what has been accomplished in government programmes, electronic and enhanced infrastructure, and the ministry’s efforts to encourage investment in the communications and information technology sector and other topics.

The Speaker of the Shura Council and the members welcomed the Minister of Communications, appreciating the efforts made by the ministry in accordance with the directives of the wise leadership, to advance the communications and information technology sector, encourage investment in it, and the tireless efforts to achieve digital transformation in all services provided to citizens, in order to achieve development goals and the objectives of the Qatar National Vision 2030.

Within this context, he referred to the Shura Council’s discussion during previous sessions of the topic 'Disadvantages of Using Technology',which was submitted by some members as a request for a general discussion, where the council, through the Cultural Affairs and Media Committee, studied the topic and hosted officials and specialists.

Al Ghanim indicated that the Council willingly submitted a proposal to the esteemed government on this subject, given its importance, pointing out that the proposal willingly included a number of views that would contribute to reducing the negative effects of modern technology, contribute to ensuring its proper use, and raising awareness of the dangers.

At the beginning of the presentation, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, presented detailed features of the digital transformation strategy pursued by the ministry, indicating that this strategy comes within the framework of national efforts to enhance the digital economy and improve the quality of life of citizens.

Hepointed out that the strategy focuses on several main axes, including developing the digital infrastructure and stimulating innovation in electronic government services.

The minister pointed out that the Qatar Digital Government focuses on providing a set of benefits that benefit Qatari society, pointing out that the Digital Government Strategy 2030 seeks to raise government efficiency and effectiveness and focus on services provided to the public.

Regarding the ministry’s strategic objectives, the minister explained that they are to improve the level of government services for individuals and companies, raise the efficiency of government administrative processes, and increase the level of transparency and community participation.

Hestressed the ministry's keenness to achieve an increase in the level of transparency and community participation through government openness, noting the implementation of three major projects in the first phase to enhance community participation, which include the electronic participation project and the open data portal project.

On the policy and legislation side, he talked about the ministry’s efforts to enhance information and communications technology, by formulating appropriate laws, policies and standards to support these efforts.

Regarding the ministry’s most prominent achievements and the performance indicators to evaluate those achievements, the minister said: “The ministry has succeeded in increasing the percentage of government services available online, and improving the user experience to access them quickly and easily.”

He added that the performance indicators include providing a periodic evaluation of the extent to which the Qatar Digital Government program achieves its vision and goals, including monitoring digital services and evaluating digital transformation in government agencies.

Heexplained that the launch of the Digital Agenda 2030 is an important event that reflects the comprehensive digital transformation within the country, as this step is considered a continuation of the process of technological renaissance that relied on technological progress, sustainability and economic diversification, noting that the agenda represents the ministry’s ambitious vision to build a prosperous digital future for Qatar. It enhances the country's position as a leading global centre for technology and innovation.

In the same context, Al Mannaiindicated that the digital agenda includes several strategic programmes that fall under six strategic pillars that support foreign investment, the government sector, entrepreneurship, and the private sector, and attract leading international companies in the field of communications and information technology, as well as On its role in attracting digital talent and innovators.

Regarding the digital factory, the minister said in this regard, it is one of the important initiatives launched by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, which is to provide a unified digital platform that aims to relaunch government services and provide them interactively to citizens and residents, as well as developing the user experience, encouraging innovation and providing high-qualityproducts at a competitive cost at the global level, which enhances sustainable development efforts and highlights Qatar’s role as a centre for manufacturing leadership in the region.

He stressed that this initiative is among the most important strategic projects aimed at strengthening the manufacturing industry in Qatar, by adopting digital technology such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and 3D printing.

Regarding digital transformation, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology indicated that the digital transformation of government services includes modernizing and improving government services to become more effective and easy to access online, including improving the user experience and reducing paper procedures.

He stressed that the ministry is investing in developing the technological infrastructure to support digital transformation, by improving communications and providing a fast and reliable Internet network.

Regarding encouraging investment and educating society about the uses of technology, he said: “The ministry is working to encourage investment in the communications and information technology sector, and is carrying out campaigns to educate society about the importance of using technology and familiarising it with the pros and cons of its use, by holding training and awareness programmes, and holding workshops for both individuals and companies.”

Regarding the file of supporting innovation and emerging projects, the Minister stressed that supporting innovation and encouraging emerging projects is one of the main goals of the ministry’s strategy, expressing his pride in cooperating with the private sector and academies to develop innovation centres that provide resources and support to innovators and entrepreneurs.

Hepointed out that the Ministry has launched investment funds aimed at supporting promising projects in their early stages, in addition to working to remove regulatory obstacles that prevent the growth of these projects and enhancing the business environment to make them more attractive for investment.

In addition, the members of the Shura Council, in their interventions, appreciated the ministry’s efforts aimed at developing the digital infrastructure, in accordance with the directives of the wise leadership, and the digital transformation efforts and enhancing investment in this promising sector, stressing that the digital transformation efforts led by the ministry to contribute to improving government services and raising its efficiency.

Members’ interventions addressed several main topics: artificial intelligence, developing government services, protecting community members from electronic fraud, and programs and applications for emerging companies.

Speaking about these aspects, the Council members stressed the absence of legislation related to artificial intelligence, pointing to the need to develop laws and regulatory frameworks that ensure optimal dealing with new technologies and provide legal protection for their users, through cooperation with educational and research institutions to develop policies and laws.

Regarding the challenges of digital transformation and the importance of accelerating this process to improve the provision of government services, Council members pointed to the need to reduce personal visits to complete government transactions, by strengthening the effective electronic system, reviewing the most prominent current problems such as redundancy and duplication of applications and the need to organize and improve these systems.

As for the file on electronic fraud, the council members focused on this file and the challenges related to protecting community members from fraud.

The members of the Shura Council also stressed the need to develop programmes and applications that meet the needs of young people in light of the digital transformation, pointing to the importance of cooperation between the ministry and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to include materials related to technological awareness, and provide educational programmes that contribute to developing their emerging skills and making them aware of the dangers of the digital space.

During their discussions with the minister, the council members stressed the need for the digital transformation strategy to be linked to achieving economic and social benefits for citizens, stressing the importance of strengthening regional and international cooperation in the field of technology and exchanging experiences and knowledge to achieve sustainable progress in the field of digital transformation.

Council members called for the provision of special programs to support groups who face difficulty in dealing with technical developments so that they can keep pace with the digital transformation.

In his response to the interventions of members of the Shura Council, regarding artificial intelligence and the development of government services, Al Mannai confirmed that the ministry is cooperating with research institutions, including Hamad Bin Khalifa University, to study the dimensions and effects of artificial intelligence developments and the accelerating variables therein.

He pointed out that the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is examining the possibility of developing an advanced regulatory framework for artificial intelligence through which the ethical and legal challenges in this aspect can be dealt with.

Healso stressed the ongoing efforts to improve and digitize government services to facilitate access to them and improve the user experience, with a focus on reducing redundancy and improving integration between different government applications.

Regarding protecting community members from fraud and developing programmes for young people, the minister explained that there is extensive cooperation with the security services to combat electronic crimes and enhance security measures, with a focus on the international aspects of threats.

Hestressed the importance of integrating technology into education and providing technological educational programmes that contribute to developing young people’s skills and making them aware of the safety of the digital space, which enhances their ability to interact safely and effectively in a rapidly changing technological world.

Regarding the focus of the digital strategy on achieving economic and social benefits for citizens, His Excellency stressed that the strategy was designed based on these priorities, indicating that all digital plans and projects aim to create added value for society and improve the quality of life of citizens.

Regarding the groups that face difficulty in dealing with technical developments, he stressed the ministry’s commitment to providing support and assistance to these groups and ensuring the provision of an enabling environment that enables them to effectively engage in digital transformation and benefit from the advantages it provides.

At the conclusion of the presentation, the Speaker of the Shura Council expressed his utmost thanks and appreciation to the Amir His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, for the great interest His Highness attaches to the communications and information technology sector, which is what It was embodied in the establishment of a special ministry for this vital and important sector, and the establishment of a special national agency for cybersecurity, which strengthens the country’s efforts in seeking digital transformation, achieves its global leadership, and achieves national cybersecurity in the face of the global challenges facing this sector.

He stressed that the council was keen to support the ministry’s efforts and provide everything that would contribute to developing the information technology infrastructure, enhancing digital transformation efforts and facilitating and digitising government procedures, which contributes to achieving the Qatar National Vision 2030.

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