The ever growing impact of information and communication technologies on governance, business and civil societies in the Arab countries is a strong indication that the region has entered a new era in the way society and government interact. Today, research focusing on the role of information technology, social media and 'open government' in the transformations taking place in the Arab countries is gaining unprecedented importance for public policy makers, the business community and civil society at large.
The school's Governance and Innovation Program is well-positioned within a regional think tank focusing on policy research spanning the 22 states of the Arab world. Unlike other global or national programs, this unique regional positioning has facilitated conducting regional research by local and global thought leaders to evaluate and review present government policies from an objective viewpoint. The existing research on governance and innovation in developed countries is often less relevant in the context of developing nations, and even more so in the Arab world. Applying practices based on experiences and research conducted in developed nations had mostly resulted in vast actuality gaps between expectations and realities.
To address this need, regional research initiatives and programmatic activities have been conducted by The Governance and Innovation Program to study the implications of government policies and strategies for innovation and ICT adoption. The program also aims to assess the impact of the paradigm shifts taking place in the Arab World on reform, modernization and transformation of Arab public administrations and the new emerging societal dynamics. The program also works closely with similar programs and initiatives on joint research projects on youth, gender, public management and entrepreneurship.
The objectives of the program are aligned with regional developmental objectives towards nurturing a culture of innovation in society, promoting participatory, inclusive and transparent government models; and enabling more responsive and efficient governance through effective adoption of information technologies.
The research projects and programmatic activities conducted under the Program had already involved senior officials, practitioners and researchers in the following 19 Arab countries:
All GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE)
The ‘Levant’ and Egypt (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria)
Maghreb States (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia)
Sudan and Yemen.
Additionally, the Program's projects have involved international experts from the UN, OECD, World Bank, European Commission; and numerous world-renowned academic scholars from leading think tanks and academic institutions.
The program outputs primarily targets three tracks:
Policy and Scholarly Research: Conducting research focusing on government policies and societal transformation through technological innovation in the Arab region.
Regional Development Activities: The Program brings together regional networks of practitioners and scholars working in related areas through programmatic and educational activities, in order to support communities of practice, encourage proactive regional knowledge sharing and bridge the gap between policy and research.
Policy Advisory: The ultimate objective of the Program is to inform present and future Arab policy makers and civil society leaders in assessing the impact of the ongoing transformations in their societies and governments; and to help develop locally fitting policies for future governance initiatives.
Societal Engagement through ICT for Better Policy
The Governance and Innovation Program produced numerous publications and ran several international conferences, and runs a research initiative focusing on social engagement through ICT for better policy in Arab states, which explores the use of social networking services in governance, social inclusion and economic development. The initiative also studies the potential of social networking applications for increasing collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation, both between and among government entities, citizens and the private sector.
The Governance and Innovation Program produces the Arab Social Media Report series. The report aims to inform a better understanding of the impact of social media on development and growth in the Arab region by exploring penetration trends of social networking services in the Arab region, their growth rate, and demographic breakdowns, the impact of these phenomena on citizen engagement and social inclusion, the impact of the new social dynamics influenced by social media on innovation and entrepreneurship in Arab societies and ultimately, the report findings shed light on the role social media is playing in the societal transformations taking place in the Arab world.
For more information on the Arab Social Media Report please visit http://www.arabsocialmediareport.com