ABU DHABI // More than 85 per cent of UAE residents are now online – the third highest rate in the Middle East.

Only Qatar and Bahrain have more people using the internet, according to the report by the United Nations Broadband Commission.

The UAE is 17th in global rankings of individuals with internet access, ahead of the US in 24th place and Germany in 19th.

Iceland has the most residents online, with 96 per cent of its citizens now connected to the web.

The world average is 35.7 per cent.

The report details how many people are using the internet, in particular broadband, in more than 190 countries.

While the UAE has no clear broadband implementation policy, the UK does, titled “Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future, Broadband Delivery UK”, adopted in 2010.

The report comes as experts this week highlighted the importance of internet-based services to GCC governments.

“E-Government allows the delivery of services in a much more efficient way than traditional government offices and government service counters,” said Fady Kassatly, specialist on technology in the public sector for the consulting company Booz & Co.

“It has been at the forefront of every government agenda in the GCC, and the UAE in particular, over the last decade.”

The UAE is putting continued emphasis on E-Government and Smart-Government initiatives, with mobile internet fast becoming a lynchpin for future progress.

“In the Mena region, governments need to sync process, people and policies to form a connection with citizens,” said Mukesh Chulani, who studies E-Government in the Middle East and Africa at the IT research firm IDC.

“A major focus is on building awareness and mobile is the best way for citizens to interact with governments. Mobile is not a passing trend.”

source: the national