TBY talks to Hamad Al Mansoori, Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), on working on the happiness of citizens, trends in digital government, and regulating the sector.
What are some of your latest technological projects and their expected impact on society?
TRA, in line with the UAE Vision 2021, continuously works to facilitate new ICT technologies in the UAE for the happiness of its citizens. Our future enables students to make their career decisions at an early stage of their lives. Virtual reality takes them through exploration journeys in different professions that are needed in the UAE. The system also provides a gamified assessment experience to test students’ skills and interests and provide them with recommended professions. Our vision is to boost the efficiency of our future manpower to drive the nation ahead. Moreover, we undertook a project to install a low power FM radio station at Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain to relay real-time commentary to the people of determination in terms of visual ability through special headsets. This innovative project was shortlisted and appreciated at the Ideas UK competition as well.
What are your plans to make government services more efficient and accessible?
Our focus for the next period is on service integration and connectedness. We need to focus on quality and excellence in order to increase satisfaction and happiness. In this sense, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, has stressed the four directions that we need to work on: quality, usage, satisfaction, and integration. In addition, we are exploring new trends in digital government, of which data exchange and data analysis are key components. As such, we are developing a new approach, linking e-government services with the new trends related to the fourth industrial revolution such as the AI, IoT, big data, and so on.
What is your perspective on the need to establish synergies between the telecommunication and media sectors?
As the media and telecoms sectors become increasingly interrelated, the synergies between the two sectors are an opportunity to enable the capabilities and technologies to be captured and used in the best way possible. TRA works closely with all the broadcasters and specialized media zones for the broadcasting and radio frequencies for transmission and ancillary requirements. While enabling such synergies, TRA will continue to enforce the Telecommunications Law to protect consumers. Today, ICT has made it easy for everyone to have their own media channel and make their voices heard. This indicates huge opportunities for the future of the media landscape. This is why in our smart government initiative, we focus on eParticipation as a methodology to increase the role of the public in designing policies and services.
How does TRA work with private and public sector partners to further its own goals and the development of the UAE economy?
It is essential to consider the interests and needs of the consumers and the industry players—whether public or private—when regulating the sector. Thus, TRA works closely with the various industry players, including telecommunications operators, technology developers, content providers, as well as other stakeholders. The industry has established its own group representing members’ interests, and TRA has established another open forum to include the sector in the development of regulations. This is particularly relevant when it comes to issues related to the development of technologies. The UAE National Agenda highlights the importance of infrastructure and aims for the UAE to be among the best in the world. The UAE Vision 2021 assigned TRA as the main sponsor of the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) and set a target to become among the top-10 countries in the world. NRI is a composite indicator that measures the readiness of a country to capture opportunities provided by information and communication technology to increase competitiveness. As sponsor of NRI, TRA works closely and coordinates with the public and private sectors to implement initiatives to improve of relevant indicators.