GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Political Participation in the Gulf Monarchies: Understanding the Role of E-Governance and E-Government services in the State of Qatar
Paper Proposal Text :
The modern day concept of e-Governance and related e-Government services has become more of a policy issue for governments around the world rather than merely a subject of academic research. While the situations are diverse from one region to another, the e-Governance discourse in general has emphasized on forms of political reforms and participation policies that are being undertaken by different governments in various stages. These policy attempts by the government bodies’ have also been gaining momentum in a bid to advance support for accountability and transparency from the expanding public sphere. Nonetheless, such an elaborate definition of e-Governance has given space to different political systems ranging from democracies to monarchies, to exercise their promise of governance alongside the strides of technological advancement. The use of internet for political purposes has contributed to create a wider circle of civic engagement and political communication, not only affecting political participation, but also its frequency and quality.

In the light of e-Government policies in the Western Asian region, Qatar remains one of the leading countries among the Gulf monarchies, ranking 44 in the UN e-Government readiness report of 2014 (among 193 countries on a global scale). The modernization of the ICT based public sector in the State during the course of the last three decades has led to varying degrees of success; through the full implementation of support for providing all government services using electronic transactions. The Qatari e-Government site at present has been offering many services, ranging from student registration and paying traffic violations to applying online visas and permits. There has also been a growing popularity among locals and foreigners in accessing government information through the e-Government websites, and a heavier reliance on government facilities through the internet.

However, like many other developed and developing countries, the e-Government initiative in Qatar continues to face a number of serious challenges, with a lack in consistency of strategy and focus; the problems persisting mainly due to the socio-cultural influences and not due to the lack of technology or economy. Also, the State has been lacking in its attempts to move beyond basic services, and elaborate on the concept of e-Governance as an extension of neo-liberal activism and policy imperative.

Keeping the two themes in mind as is highlighted in the title, the paper is therefore part of an ongoing research that explores the unfolding impact of e-government, discourse on e-governance and political participation in the Gulf monarchies namely Qatar. The paper aims to understand the feasibility of e-government services in Qatar, mostly restricting to its availability, ease of services and impact on nationals and expatriates in the capital city of Doha. The paper will explore the available evidence on e-government services, e-governance policies in the country and related government strategy, while at the same time emphasizing on the socio-political choice of political participation among its public in the 21st century. The paper will be inductive and analytical, employing qualitative mechanisms of research design such as explanatory research. Some forms of interpretative research such as ethnographic research methods may be employed. However some aspects of quantitative research may be also be employed to deal with factual data in some parts of the research.