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Digital Divide in Middle East and How to Deal With It

Everyone knows the importance of connecting to the Internet, and there is no day without using the devices that allow us to access them. However, more than half of the world’s population lives isolated from the Internet world, which means a great difference in terms of development and opportunity, especially when compared to those who have access to this network This discrepancy defines the digital divide in the Middle East

Digital Divide 

It is the division between people (communities, states, countries …) who use ICT as a routine part of their lives, and those who do not have access to them, and despite their existence, do not know how to use them.

The importance of the Internet depends on different aspects:

  • it is a communication channel that ignores geographical obstacles.
  • Allows access to and transfer of knowledge and information.
  • It accelerates many everyday actions (e-commerce, administrative processing, electronic payment …)
  • Provides new possibilities for interaction with the world and allows for other ways of life.
  • It is a human right, in accordance with the objectives of the United Nations
  • It seems clear that the advantages of Internet connectivity can improve opportunities not only for individuals but for society in general. For this reason, the ITU conducts a series of systematic studies that show the annual global data on the ITC, classification of countries based on the average Progress.

The Digital Divide in the Middle East

If we look at the development criteria, the gap is only 15% of people in the backward countries can benefit from this resource, an important figure compared to developing countries 40%, which is dangerous if compared with developed countries 81%.

With regard to the gender gap between the sexes, where access to the Internet is higher for men than for women in all regions of the world. Although this inequality is not as clear as in the previous examples about 10%, the worrisome thing is that there is an increase in this difference between 2013 and 2016.

The digital divide is one of the infrastructures that can be overcome with better investment. Illiteracy and poverty are one of the biggest disincentives for adopting modern technologies in the Middle East, expensive devices and the cost of Internet access even if the government subsidizes these costs, illiterate users will not get the same benefits.

ITU and UNESCO set up a digital development committee in May 2010 in the face of a vision of a digitally divided world due to the lack of opportunities, where bandwidth is distributed unequally, with the aim of enhancing the importance of broadband in the international political agenda and expanding its reach in each country as a key to accelerating progress towards national and international development goals.

Technology and Communications Development Index  Classification

The ITU Development Index (IDI) represents the level of access to and use of ICTs by countries:
 South Korea ranks first in the international development initiative, followed by Denmark and Iceland, respectively.

In a group of 167 countries ranked first 30, mostly by European countries and other high-income countries such as Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Japan and others
Countries that have improved most in the past five years have been Costa Rica, Bahrain, Lebanon, Ghana, Thailand, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Suriname, Belarus and Oman, but the average development values ​​of the International Telecommunication Union (IDI) vary greatly between regions.
In Africa, Mauritius surpasses only the global average of 5.03 points and 29 out of 37 African countries in the last quarter of IDI 2015, so reducing the digital divide in this region of the world makes it a priority.

In the Middle East, the top five countries are GCC members: Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, all above 6.5 points, placing them among the top 50 countries. However, And the rest of Africa located in the lower centres.

Efforts to Bridge the Digital Divide

There is no doubt that we live in a world of many facts, which vary widely by geographical region in the world in telecommunications. The digital divide is narrowing, and the most disadvantaged countries will gradually be able to access much of the information on the Internet.

Under this hypothesis, the opportunities for prosperity in the world could increase significantly for backward countries, as free access to information and communications would provide them with the necessary tools, but technological progress should not mask the serious and real shortcomings of the populations of “discrete” countries.

Bridging the digital divide in the Middle East may help improve the well-being and quality of life of people who do not yet have access to the Internet. First, however, we must ensure that these people have a life to enjoy and technological literacy in these countries.

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