Social Software and E-Governments in the Arab World

Social Software and E-Governments in the Arab World

Salam Abdallah (Abu Dhabi University, UAE) and Ashraf Khalil (Abu Dhabi University, UAE)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-048-8.ch015
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The emergence of Web 2.0 social software is changing the social life of people and beginning to infiltrate and impact governments in the Western World. There, the emergence of a new government paradigm is challenging the traditional governments and governance. A shift is at this point required for governments to stay in line with their citizens, who are becoming more computer savvy and being raised and fed on the internet and mobile devises. We identify for specific areas in which Web 2.0 applications are being used innovatively in Western governments. The paper then turns its focus to the Arab World and puts forward thoughts on the potential, opportunities and challenges for both citizens and governments for embracing this new wave of web-based services. We conclude that Web 2.0 applications have great potential to leverage the mission of Arab e-governments through connecting and collaborating with businesses, educational institutions, private and non-government initiatives, and of course individual citizens, many of whom are already beginning to embrace social media.
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The concept of e-government is founded on the basis of leveraging information technology in all its forms to foster relations with citizens and businesses and across government agencies (Cloete, 2003). Technologies have been used by governments in a variety of ways to improve services, increase participation and empower citizens by involvement in the policy making process (OCDE, 2003). Governments aim to transform the way they interact with citizens by enhancing transparency, communication and participation (Pascual, 2003; Korac-kakabadse et. al., 2002). Such initiative is sometimes referred to as e-democracy. In turn, according to the World Bank, governments who provide access to information and encourage engagement may lead to “less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience, revenue growth, and/or cost reductions (World Bank, n.d.).”

In Western countries e-government services had evolved from being only source of information publishing to fully interactive and transactional services. E-government literature usually focuses on goals or values that e-government services produce (Mohamed, 2008) such as efficiency, effectiveness, access, accountability, equity, empowerment/participation, transparency, availability of services, responsiveness and integrity.

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