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Arab states have demonstrated the most improvement in technology-readiness of any other region in the world, according to a new report.

The seventh annual Global Information Technology Report, by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) and French management school INSEAD, was released last week (9 April).

The report assesses 127 nations on factors ranging from the cost of mobile phone calls and available Internet bandwidth to the quality of higher education, to determine which countries are best positioned to compete in the information-intensive twenty-first century economy.

The report shows that Arab states have risen significantly in the rankings. Egypt, at position 63 in the study, climbed 17 places from the 2006–2007 report — the biggest jump in the sample. Bahrain, Jordan and Qatar leapt six, four and 11 places respectively.

Oman and Saudi Arabia, new to the report, entered at positions 53 and 48 respectively.

The report presents Qatar as a flag-bearer of technology-driven excellence in the region. In just four years, Qatar has risen to position 32 in the rankings by establishing the Supreme Council of Information Communication Technology, which has implemented an information communication technology (ICT) national plan as well as initiatives in healthcare, education and infrastructures.

"This is not surprising news as the region is experiencing an aggressive investment in the key pillar of the knowledge-based economy, namely, education and learning, innovation, and information technology," Hassan Moawad Abdel Al, former president of Mubarak City for Scientific Research and Technology Applications, Alexandria, Egypt, told SciDev.Net.

"Now what is needed is sustaining the present technological growth by enhancing human resource development and promoting the use of knowledge for the development of products and services."

"The report raises the red flag for some developing countries that there is no way to establish sustainable innovation and knowledge-based industries without promoting ICT capacity building and human resource development," Hassanuddeen Abd Aziz, associate professor at the faculty of economics and management sciences of the International Islamic University Malaysia, told SciDev.Net.

Link to summary of the report [279kB]