A new report from Huawei and Arthur D Little launched at the ‘Accelerating a Sustainable Digital Economy’ summit held by SAMENA Council, focused on recommended policy actions for Middle East countries to realise their digital visions for a sustained economic recovery from the pandemic and enhanced resilience.
In Oman, it is recommended that its strategic position in the Gulf, international connectivity with multiple submarine cable landing stations on its territory, strong ICT infrastructure, and high number of ICT graduates are used to propel a vibrant digital ecosystem of domestic startups, SMEs and technology-related businesses. Through deregulation, increased competition, and improvements to the cost of doing business, Arthur D Little anticipate that Oman can grow as a strategically important business hub in the region, creating many new jobs and lessening single sector dependence.
The digital economy is estimated to account for 4.5 per cent to 15.5 per cent of world GDP today. In its broadest definition, this equates to US$11.5tn and is growing at around 3x the rate of overall GDP. In the Middle East, Arthur D Little estimates the digital economy’s contribution to GDP ranges from 6.4 per cent in Saudi Arabia, 4.3 per cent in the UAE, 2.1 per cent in Oman, and 1 per cent in Pakistan, compared to 9 per cent in the US and 7.7 per cent in the UK. This illustrates the scale of the digital gap to be unlocked in the region, if the correct policies are implemented.
Accelerating digitalisation will boost industrial growth and productivity, improve societal well-being, and benefit consumers via cost and time savings. “Successful digital economies require a whole range of infrastructure and capabilities, but countries often have scarce resources and finite funds. Choosing and prioritising focus areas is therefore key,” said Rajesh Duneja, partner at Arthur D Little.
“As the digital economy becomes a key driving force behind economic development in the Middle East, we must continue to measure the true impact of its development, and the best practices that are helping countries to success today,” noted a Huawei executive.
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