Digitalisation leads Qatar’s journey into the future

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Digitalisation has been sweeping the globe as the forerunner of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, increasing business efficiency and cutting down operational time. As information and communications technology seeps into daily life, organisations have integrated digital transformation into functional areas. The global digital transformation market size, which stood at $737 billion in 2020, is projected to reach over $3.5 trillion by 2028, a compound annual growth rate of 22.1% during the forecast period.

As global businesses strive to recover to pre-pandemic operational levels, a move to digital transformation has been triggered. Upscaling and developing digital capabilities have clearly become the vehicle to move from surviving the pandemic to thriving in the endemic phase.

Developing digital ecosystem

In the latest International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Digital Transformation Spending Guide, global spending on digital transformation is projected to reach $1.8 trillion in 2022, an increase of 17.6% over 2021. The guide expects this spending growth to continue over the 2021-2025 period, with “a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.6%”. In the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa (META) region, the IDC guide shows that digital transformation investments are set to double across the 2020-25 period, with  spending forecast to reach $58 billion in 2025.

Amidst this global pursuit of a digital-based economic strategy, the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) countries are undergoing a region-wide digital paradigm shift. According to international management consulting firm, Oliver Wayman, by 2025, more than 40% of all ICT investments in the region will be allotted to the execution of digital transformation efforts.

Recognising both the opportunities and challenges posed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digital transformation remains at the core of Qatar’s blueprint for economic and social development, the Qatar National Vision 2030. The State's ICT spending is expected to reach an estimated $9bn by 2024, at a compounded annual growth rate of 9.2%, according to data analytics company Global Data. This comes alongside a $200bn government programme to invest in technology, as well as attract foreign investment and international talent.

By harnessing information technology tools such as cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Qatar is creating an enabling environment for the digital ecosystem. For instance, the recent launch of the Digital Centre of Excellence by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and Microsoft came within a joint digital capacity-building programme to empower various segments of society by 2025, while enhancing the country’s competitiveness and building a digitally advanced and sustainable future. Similarly, MCIT, Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) and Google Cloud expanded their partnership in 2021 to include a new Centre of Excellence training facility and Google office in Qatar. This follows earlier announcements about a Google Cloud region in Qatar, which complements the continued growth of the technology ecosystem. According to a recent study by Google and Alphabet, Qatar is one of 10 states with deep potential for Google Cloud across the MENA region.

Towards a smart future

Qatar continues to partner with key players to instil digitalisation across all fields, from launching smart cities and fostering innovative solutions to advancing connectivity and IT infrastructure. ICT providers Ooredoo Qatar, Siemens and Microsoft have partnered to drive smart city solutions across Qatar by developing digital, Internet of Things (IoT) and software analytics solutions.

On the connectivity side, Qatar is home to the world’s first commercially available 5G Network, which has provided businesses the infrastructure to speed up the digitalisation of their operations.

Capitalising on its hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar has upgraded its digital and tech infrastructure. The megaevent enables Qatar to showcase itself as a technologically advanced country with a competitive advantage in emerging tech segments.

Underlining the integral role of FDI in stimulating digitalisation, the Investment Promotion Agency of Qatar (IPA Qatar) has embarked on several partnerships to accelerate digital transformation and foster tech innovation in Qatar. IPA Qatar is collaborating with Spanish Group, Iberdrola, to establish a world-leading innovation centre to advance digital utility in Qatar. Moreover, at the recently concluded Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg 2022, IPA Qatar entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MCIT and Amazon Web Services, the global leader in cloud computing. The agreement supports the rapid development of Qatar's technology sector and associated talent pool via the Amazon Web Services Academy, which offers cloud computing and skills development programmes on Machine Learning, AI and Cloud Computing.

Another digital-focused partnership was announced earlier this year between IPA Qatar and FLYR Labs to launch the Middle East and GCC’s first AI hub for the transportation sector.

With digitalisation spearheading efforts, Qatar is moving fast on the information and communication highway, unlocking more opportunities and realising its Qatar National Vision 2030 goals.

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