The disruptive technologies are facing a wide acceptance in Middle East; a very good example is United Arab Emirates direction to have a smart government. All government entities are supposed to turn their IT investments towards offering smart online solutions for residents.
Dubai government in particular have taken this to the next level, the vision of the country is that offering a friendly smart and online solution is not the entire story, mainly, they believe having a continues improvement of their polices, services and protocols is what matter, for that, Dubai government entities are actively presented on social media. The core believes of the government that no process or policy improvement will bring any more value, unless it comes from the users who are practicing it. They are actively encouraging people to engage with them over social media platform.
For example, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum GBE, also known as Sheikh Mohammed, is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Emir of Dubai is actively using social media platforms to communicate government visions and plan to audience of Dubai, listening to them, and sometime, engaging with users via cover station and feedbacks.
On the other hand, communicating government initiative, plans, and visions is part of Dubai Media Office department. The core task of this office is to communicate government initiatives to public, sense the public sentiment and sometime, inviting random selected people for a discussion. They have been active mainly on Twitter, with wide audience and network up to 1.3+ million followers.
On the other hand, government agencies with essential offered services are also part of the social media presence as part of the government plan to have a winder citizen engagement. A very good example could be DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) with a round 220,000 followers on Facebook, the main task of DEWA is to introduce government initiatives of Sustainable Power plans, Going-Green and other Eco-friendly activities that considered being in line with the country vision towards Expo 2020. It usually engages with people in conversation about power consumption, best practices to avoid wastage of power, and continues involvement and engagement with users on special advices to help them create a green-country.
Talking about government presence on the social media in Dubai, we should bring the attention to one of the most important government department in the country that is responsible of providing a safe place for the residents, Dubai Police.
Dubai Police page on Facebook considered being the most active page that is related to government, with an audience of 500,000 people, and a growth of 6000 users a week on average, it is considered to be the discussion platform for many users who wish to interact with Dubai senior police officers. It is usually known that top officials are monitoring the page and how the department is communicating with public on best safety practices, and new rules and regulations, in a chance to listen to user’s feedbacks, suggestions.
One final example can probably give the reader a satisfactory image on how the government of Dubai is using the social media for an added-value networking and excellent citizen engagement. On the very local level, Dubai Municipality page on Facebook, with 200,000+ followers, engages with users about various topics, from waste management, to city planning projects. They do a lot of engagement campaigns to have closer interactions with residents. The late introduce campaign was “The Best Photo of Dubai” Where users was requested to share their photos of the city in a chance to win a honorable certificate from the government.
Needless to say, all the mentioned above agencies, and particularly, all of the government agencies have enabled a “Complain/Suggestion” mechanism on their websites, and it is seriously looked at from senior official’s point of view. Some of the agencies allow citizens to have direct interactions with ministers.
From Dubai Government point of view, being on social media actively is part of the strategy towards having a better country. The idea is faster you have feedback from the ground, is faster your ability to learn and change. – Aboud Khederchah, United Arab Emirates.