Living in a new era of information technology implies the necessity to reconsider the existing concepts of economic, political, and social relationships and seeking new ways of improving them with the help of IT tools. Although the ideas of global citizenship, social interactions, and democratic principles as the basis for managing the functioning of the society remain the same, IT tools provide new opportunities for addressing emerging concerns more efficiently and improving the interaction between participants and data management processes significantly. E-government is one of the groundbreaking ideas that has led to a massive enhancement of the key social, political, and economic processes, thus, contributing to the successful development of a range of states, the UAE is one of the stellar examples thereof.
The Concept of E-Government
The definition of e-government is rooted deeply in the idea of promoting the active information management in the realm of public organizations so that their performance could be boosted extensively (The benefits of e-governance for municipalities and citizens 2014). Since the notion is comparatively new, a plethora of definitions thereof exists, thus, allowing for a very distinct representation of the idea and every facet of its framework.
When considering the foundation for promoting the principles of e-government in a particular environment, one must mention trust as the key: “the gate to e-government adoption is trust. If citizens and businesses trusted e-government, then they will use it” (Abu-Shanab 2013, p. 481). The assumption made by Abu-Shanab (2013) can be justified by the fact that e-government can also be interpreted as the platform on which the principles of transparency and democracy can be introduced into a particular society (Carroll 2014). At present, the organization known as Euromonitor supervises the implementation of e-government practices in the UAE environment (The 5th annual Kingdom e-government summit 2014).
E-government as a concept allows embracing the interactions between different stakeholders and captures the uniqueness of each type of communication. For instance, the essential characteristics of the conversation between governments and citizens (G2C) can be explored extensively with the help of e-government tools. Furthermore, the chances for detailing the properties of the communication process between governments and businesses (G2B) can be analyzed, therefore, providing the foundation for rapid economic growth. Finally, the connection between governments and their employees (G2E) can be studied extensively with the help of the e-government framework.
Efficacy of E-Government: The UAE Scenario
The introduction of e-government and its principles into the UAE setting has mostly met the expectations of the state authorities and citizens (UAE ranks 8th globally and 1st regionally in UN’s 2016 e-Smart Services Index 2016). For instance, the rise in the number of services and their quality, as well as the following economic growth, can be deemed as the key outcome of implementing the principles of the e-government framework in the context of the UAE political and social environment (The concept of e-government 2014).
Furthermore, the creation of a more citizen-centric government can be viewed as one of the key outcomes of deploying the principles of e-government in the realm of the UAE environment (Carter et al. 2016). New financial opportunities have opened in front of the UAE entrepreneurs, and the UAE organizations have been provided with independence so that the consistent economic development could be facilitated (Abu Dhabi eGovernment strategy 2017).
It would be a mistake to claim that the implementation of the principles of e-government has been carried out without any hindrances in the way. For instance, a recent study indicates that there are significant challenges in cultural, economic, political, and legal aspects of managing relationships between the UAE citizens at the state level. For instance, the issues associated with planning and management can be viewed as the primary concerns that need to be handled efficiently. Indeed, unless some of the UAE states such as Oman get their priorities straight, define the key stakeholders, and determine their needs, the implementation of e-government is unlikely to be impeded (Sarrayrih & Sriram 2015).
Increased transparency of a range of business-, politics-, and economy-related processes should also be viewed as the effect of implementing the e-government system in the UAE (The national plan for UAE smart government goals 2015). A recent study shows that the identified outcomes can be used to serve an array of different ends, including the enhancement of public services efficacy, a sharp rise in the quality of interactions between organizations, opportunities for reducing corruption in governmental institutions and private organizations, a significant rise in the transparency levels across industries, and a massive reduction of expenses taken for resources (Alsaeed, Adams & Boakes 2014).
Furthermore, the adoption of the principles of e-government in the context of the UAE market allowed for collaboration between various agents of the UAE market. The resulting rise in inter-agency transactions has created premises for improving a range of supply chain management (SCM) processes, thus, leading to faster delivery of the required services, as well as the increase in the quality thereof (Napitupulu & Sensuse 2014). The significance of the enhanced inter-agency communication in which the promotion of e-government principles has spurred can hardly be underrated since it served as the basis for creating a seamless service without any instances of mismanagement or misunderstanding occurring in the process of SCM (Ronald & Omwenga 2015). At the same time, a more flexible system for managing conflicts has been designed, with a strong focus on analyzing conflicts and exploring the available solutions as opposed to avoiding confrontations. The framework of conflict management based on the idea of confronting a problem instead of avoiding it resulted in the promotion of the vision of a conflict as the platform for improving the process of communication and gaining essential experiences (Al-Khouri 2013).
It should also be noted that the process of introducing the principles of the e-government-based framework in the UAE environment required that different elements of the existing systems should be combined to produce the necessary effects and help deliver the services of the required quality. The reconsideration of the current communication channels and the use of the new ones that will be based on innovative technologies and, therefore, allow for a significantly faster and more efficient transfer of the relevant information. Consequently, the number of defects and other problems related to the delivery of public services will be reduced significantly (Rodrigues, Sarabdeen & Balasubramanian 2016).
Moreover, the cooperation between authorities at federal and local levels deserves to be recognized as an essential positive outcome to which the use of the e-government framework has led. There is no need to stress that the delegation of authority from one level to another may be impeded significantly unless proper communication tools are used. The promotion of the e-government system, in turn, will allow reducing the possibility of misinterpretations, misconceptions, and other types of misunderstandings that may occur in the specified environment, hence the premise for a rapid improvement in the quality of services provided to the UAE citizens (Elmasri & Hilal 2015).
Therefore, it can be assumed that the establishment of e-government as the basis for regulating economic, political, financial, and social interactions between UAE citizens has been built successfully. However, the promotion of the values associated with e-government has shown that there are numerous issues to be addressed. Consequently, one will have to reconsider some of the approaches toward the management of data, the relationships between the stakeholders involved, the values promoted at the state level, etc.
Future Implications of E-Government
Even though the adoption of the e-government-based system has led to impressive results in the UAE, its potential is far from being fulfilled completely. Therefore, further detailed analysis of other effects that e-government may have on the development of business, politics, economy, etc., is paramount. As stressed above, the issue of accessibility should be deemed as the primary area of concern. Therefore, the exploration of opportunities for providing extra options for people with disabilities, e.g., visual and motor skills impairment, must be regarded as a necessity. As a result, more members of the UAE community will be able to partake in the e-government system management and become politically active citizens. The importance of political participation is especially important for the member of the UAE society since it will allow introducing the UAE citizens to the principles of democracy actively and, therefore, introduce positive changes to the current political environment of the state (Mourad & Kamoun 2013).
Pros and Cons of E-Government
The application of e-government related principles as the tools for improving the quality of public services and offering the UAE citizens an improved portfolio thereof has been quite successful so far (Abdelhafez & Amer 2014). Therefore, the identified framework must be recognized as a perfect tool for shaping the process of managing public services and delivering them to each citizen individually with the specifics of the target demographics in mind. Additionally, information management is improved significantly. For instance, citizens can receive news about the policies which the government is developing, participate in the political and economic progress of the state, etc. Naturally, some of the electronic processes associated with data management, such as the processing of the documents containing people’s personal information and updating them by the changes that have occurred in a citizen’s life (e.g., marrying or divorcing, having or adopting a child, etc.). Nevertheless, a range of impediments that are typically associated with paperwork can be avoided once the e-government system is introduced into the context of a particular society.
Assuming that e-government is the magic cure for every possible economic, social, financial, and legal issue, however, would be an overstatement. While the e-government-based framework provides chances for boosting further development, it also imposes several limitations on the state’s progress. For instance, the issues associated with access to the Internet needs to be listed among the primary disadvantages of the e-government system. Indeed, some people may have trouble using the IT tools required for being a part of the e-government system. As a result, the specified members of the UAE population will be discriminated against unless they are provided with extra opportunities for online access (Jaafar et al. 2014).
Furthermore, the fact that the participants of the e-government system are exposed to the threat of a cyberattack needs to be recognized. Despite the attempts to enhance the security of online users, new dangers emerge every day and disrupt online communication. Partially, the issues associated with online security can be attributed to the lack of awareness and technological savvy among users. Therefore, the problem can be resolved by educating the UAE citizens about the crucial strategies for maintaining online security levels high.
The correlation between the expenses taken to introduce the e-government-based system into the political and economic environment of the UAE and the outcomes, which have been quite lackluster so far, is also an important argument against deploying the framework. Indeed, a closer look at the effects that have been achieved will show that, while admittedly being an improvement, they do not always cover the costs taken to attain them (Rahman, Albaloshi & Sarker 2016).
Innovative solutions that have been designed in the IT industry have reinvented not only business and economy but also communication and politics, thus, creating an impetus for a massive change. With the enhancement of communication for which the latest IT tools allow, it is crucial to building the basis for the active participation of citizens in the state political processes. As a result, a steep rise in the development of political identity among the target population can be expected. Furthermore, the opportunities for consistent personal growth can be built once the phenomenon of e-government becomes part and parcel of the UAE environment. Even though the promotion of the values and ideas associated with e-government has been comparatively smooth so far, there are serious obstacles on the way to the complete integration of e-government principles into the UAE environment. To make sure that the integration of the e-government system should occur flawlessly and trigger impressive results, one should focus on the improvement of communication, especially as far as the citizens with restricted opportunities for participation are concerned. Once every single stakeholder gains a chance to take part in the e-government process, gradual improvement will become a possibility.
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