The Inclusive Internet Index 2020, covering hundred countries, representing 91 per cent of the world’s population and 96 per cent of global GDP, ranks all the GCC countries in top 50, with Oman placed last at 44th position.
Produced annually since 2017 by The Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Facebook, the index benchmarks countries on the Internet availability, affordability, relevance and the readiness of people to use it.
The results of this year’s index and survey demonstrate that even as Internet access increases globally, the pace of growth is slowing, particularly in lower-income countries where expansion is needed most. More than half the world is connected, but the remaining share – comprised largely of women and those in the poorest places – will be harder to reach. In the overall rankings, the top five include Sweden, New Zealand and United States with Australia and Denmark tied on rank fourth. While in the GCC, Kuwait leads the group at overall rank of 24th, followed by Qatar (28th), UAE (38th), Bahrain (41st), Saudi Arabia (43rd) and Oman at 44th rank.
The sultanate, however, performs well among the GCC countries when it comes to relevance and readiness benchmarks. In relevance benchmark, Oman is ranked 27th overall with only Saudi Arabia placed better on rank 24th, while Qatar is ranked 30th, Bahrain 42nd, Kuwait 44th and UAE 54th.
In readiness benchmark, Oman is ranked 21st overall with only Qatar placed higher at rank 1st, while Saudi Arabia is ranked 33rd, Bahrain 38th, UAE 50th and Kuwait at 63rd. Relevance examines the existence and extent of local language content and relevant content, while readiness examines the capacity to access the Internet, including skills, cultural acceptance, and supporting policy.
In affordability, Oman is placed last within the GCC at rank 69th, with Bahrain ranked 64th, UAE 55th, Saudi Arabia 46th, Qatar 42nd and Kuwait at 14th. Affordability examines the cost of access relative to income and the level of competition in the Internet marketplace. In availability benchmark, which examines the quality and breadth of available infrastructure required for access and levels of Internet usage, Oman is ranked 37th with only Saudi Arabia worse off at 44th and rest of the GCC states being placed better.