The Arab World, Culture and Information Technology

The Arab World, Culture and Information Technology

Mohamed El Louadi (University of Tunis, Tunisia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-87828-991-9.ch010


In 801, Harun Rashid offered Charlemagne a water clock, the like of which was inexistent in all of Europe at that time; the King’s court thought that a little devil was hidden inside the clock. In the 1930s, King Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia had to convince his people that the radio was not the making of the devil and that it could in fact be used to broadcast and spread the Quran. In 2003, the Arab region is found to be still lagging in modern technologies adoption (UNDP, 2003). Thus, in a little more than 11 centuries, the Arabs were transformed from leaders to adopters, then to late adopters as far as technologies are concerned. The Arab world is taken to mean the 22 members of the Arab League, accounting for more than 300 million people with an economy of 700 billion dollars. Although most Arabs practice Islam, they represent less than one third of all Muslims. The Arab world is often thought of as economically prosperous due to its oil resources; yet its total GDP is lower than that of Spain (UNDP, 2003). Arab countries share language and culture but differ in size, geography, demographics, government type, etc. In terms of spending in and use of IT, statistics portray the Arab world as far from being up-to-date (UNDP, 2003). This article raises the question of whether existing research models are appropriate to explain this delay. If certain characteristics proper to the Arab culture play an important role in explaining the delay in IT adoption, then we anticipate the answer to be that no existing model is able to adequately study the IT adoption phenomena in the Arab world.

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