Posted on April 08, 2011

Mobile penetration in Qatar increased to 182 percent, which stands out as one of the highest in the world, compared to a global average of 76 percent, said Dr. Hessa Al Jaber, Secretary-General of ICT Qatar, during the second round of the Business and Investment in Qatar Forum here.

Addressing a high-level audience on the progress of information communications technology (ICT) sector, Al Jaber said: “This is only the beginning, as we are recently developing Qatar’s digital agenda which aims to accelerate progress and further our nation.”

One of the innovations ICT Qatar is focusing on developing are Arabic clusters to reflect the Middle East’s population, she added. “We are really serious about investing in Arabic digital clusters in Qatar”.

Noting that Arabic is the fifth largest spoken language in world, Al Jaber stated that only 1 percent of Internet content is in Arabic. And 60 percent of Internet users prefer browsing in Arabic. However, the Arabic digital content that exists is limited and of low quality. “In Qatar, we have all of the characteristics needed to bargain – the economy, demography, and policies,” she said. “We have the fastest growing economy, a young, vibrant population, and mature mobile market … key attributes for the international market to focus on.”

While the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is mainly derived from oil and gas, Al Jaber revealed plans to diversify the economy through the ICT sector:

1. Doubling the ICT sector’s contribution to GDP,

2. Doubling the workforce over the next 5 years,

3. Achieving high speed internet access,

4. Creating mass internet and and IT adaption, and

5. Achieving more accessibility and effectiveness in key IT services.

Further, she invited US companies to take advantage of Qatar’s vast investment opportunities in ICT. Qatar is currently deploying advance secure infrastructure through a nation-wide broadband network with a total investment of QR2bn. By 2015, Al Jaber said 90 percent of Qatari businesses and homes will access the network. “Qatar will be one of the world most connected societies and will be established as one of the next generation broadband services,” Al Jaber said.

She said that $550m have been invested to establish a submarine cable that will connect Qatar to the world. Adding to Qatar’s progress in the ICT field, Al Jaber said Qatar is developing a strategic satellite programme.

“Our plan is to provide coverage all over the world that will give an independence to the broadcast industry.” ICT Qatar will be working on continuing development, modernising policies and regulations aimed at protecting consumers, and ensuring responsible use of technology.

source: The Peninsula