ictQATAR, Qatar’s government entity under the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology in its latest report titled ‘Qatar’s ICT Landscape 2013: Households and Individuals‘ has revealed that Qatar’s Internet penetration is among the best in the Arab region and on par with ICT-advanced countries like South Korea and the UK.
On average, a household in Qatar owns three mobile phones, two computers, and one smartphone, and people are using this technology to access the Internet in ever-greater numbers. The report showed a continuing trend toward more convenient, portable forms of technology in Qatar, with a surge in the use of handy, versatile smartphones over the last few years.
More than half of mainstream individuals own a smartphone, with the highest penetration levels among young people. In addition, a growing number of Qatari citizens are also buying tablet computers, with a quarter of households now owning and using at least one of these devices. Similar to the world trend, increasingly less number of people access the Internet from their desktops and instead use mobile devices such as Smartphones and Tablets to access the Internet.
Regarding Internet usage, email was the most used, followed by instant messaging. 61% of the Internet users said they use social networking sites on a daily basis.
“Qatar continues to make great headway toward a truly digital future for all of its people,” said Dr. Hessa Al-Jabar, ictQATAR’s Secretary General.
“Technology has the incredible capacity to inspire and propel change, innovation, and the progress necessary to ensure a competitive knowledge-based economy that will enrich the lives of all members of society,” she added.
The report was primarily based on 1,880 face-to-face interviews, conducted in February and March 2012 with a representative sample of people living in Qatar, including a mix of genders, nationalities, ages, and geographic locations.
Other trends that have emerged from the data include:
Broadband access is on the rise: 85% of households in Qatar now have a broadband connection, up from 80% in 2010, and mobile broadband subscriptions, in particular, are on the rise. However, the speed of broadband is still a major issue, with half of all households surveyed using low-end speeds between 256 Kbps and 1 Mbps, which greatly impacts how quickly websites load, the speed at which files and other data can be downloaded, and the quality of live streaming video and audio. Such frustrations may have contributed to a drop in overall satisfaction rates for Internet use between 2010 and 2012. Notably, higher speed broadband connections are found more among Qatari households than expatriate ones.
Qatari youth are leading the way: Qatari citizens between the ages of 15 and 24 have the highest ICT penetration rates of any age group, across the board, including for computers (97%), the Internet (98%), and mobile services (approximately 100%). They are also blazing the way with smartphone usage, not only for basic functions like voice calls and email, but increasingly for web browsing, instant messaging, next-generation entertainment features, and social networking, which they engage in far more frequently than other age groups.
Despite the progress, a majority of people in Qatar still face ICT-related barriers: The biggest obstacle to universal ICT penetration and usage rates in Qatar remains a widespread lack of ICT skills among parts of the population, particularly female and older Qatari citizens, and transient laborers. The high cost of buying or renting computers and a lack of access to technology are other commonly reported obstacles, especially among the typically less educated, less affluent transient laborers.
E-Government awareness and usage has stalled: While the majority of mainstream individuals report that they are familiar with Qatar’s extensive e-Government services, less than a quarter of the population has actually used even one in the past year – exactly the same percentage as in 2010.
Additionally, a third of mainstream individuals are completely unaware of these offerings. Qatari citizens are the most aware of e-Government services and the most likely to use them to pay traffic fines and apply for a Smart ID Card, among other tasks. Mainstream expats, on the other hand, are more likely to apply for and renew visas, health cards, and residence permits.
“While we are proud of our achievements to date, we must redouble our efforts to eliminate the barriers that stand in the way of ensuring that all people in Qatar reap the personal and economic benefits of technology,” said Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber.
“ictQATAR will continue to make digital literacy a priority in the years to come,” she added.