The session saw streams of questions flowing in from Twitter users from within and outside the UAE. There were many users from Australia, Canada and the US. They asked Al Suwaidi about the various aspects associated with eGovernment. Al Suwaidi replied to questions and gathered feedback from the alert citizens who are either laymen with a keen interest in eGovernment or professionals from the fields of eGovernment, Open Government, Open Data and Government 2.0 etc.
Al Suwaidi said, "H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai is our inspiration behind this session. He pioneered communication through social media in the region. I believe that involving the citizens and managing an effective two-way communication with them are important factors that lead to a connected, transparent and responsive government."
"I thank everyone who participated in this session and made it a successful example of how the potential of social media can be utilised by governments. I am glad that people shared their queries and feedback. This dialogue will guide us to improve our services based on the people's concerns and expectations regarding eGovernment," he added.
A dedicated hash tag (#AskSalem) was created on Twitter for this purpose. Twitter users tweeted their questions and feedback to Al Suwaidi's account @SalemAlShair. Questions had started dropping in since the announcement of this session was made on April 1. Al Suwaidi answered them this morning.
The session is part of the federal eGovernment's eParticipation policy which aims at enhancing interaction with the public and involving them in the decision-making process of developing the mechanism for eTransformation and government services in the UAE.
In addition to Twitter, Emirates eGovernment uses various other channels to communicate with the public such as Facebook, YouTube, a discussion forum and a blog. These accounts could be accessed through the official portal of the UAE Government government.ae.
Excerpts from the session:• In response to a Twitter user asking for advice for USA municipalities where eGovernment and innovation are stuck due to politics and lack of leadership and cooperation, Al Suwaidi replied that leadership changes everything including politics.
• To another Twitter user asking about the most important features of the UAE's eGovernment Strategy, Al Suwaidi said they are Open Government, eParticipation, Connected Government, cloud services and innovation.
• To another user who asked about the main drivers leading towards open source technology, Al Suwaidi said avoiding expensive vendor lock-in, enabling modularity, interoperability, freedom and the need to develop the capacity to maintain and develop the apps.
• When a Twitter user asked if the UAE is considering implementing the model of Open Government, Al Suwaidi said that the UAE is already practicing it while maintaining privacy and security. The UAE's federal portal www.government.ae has a section dedicated to Open Data.
• To a question from a user quizzing Al Suwaidi on what makes a successful eGovernment, he said that leadership and clarity of vision complemented with easy reliable eServices and a lot of marketing are the key factors.