Ministry of Transport and Communications ... great achievements and ambitious plans for the future prosperity of Qatar

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Ministry of Transport and Communications continued in 2016 its work on regulating transport and improving communications services by studying the designated projects and following up on the ones being implemented. The goal is to expand the economy and raise the quality of the technological and information infrastructure.

The Ministry used its many programmes to raise awareness on the importance of information technology and communication and the means to use them safely to improve the lives of individuals and society. The ministry worked as well on implementing the e-government project. Improving the digital infrastructure aims to achieve one of the pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030.

On the legislative field, the ministry looks to develop the legislations related to the transport and communication sectors by issuing laws and ministerial decisions, as well as signing Memorandums of Understanding in the two fields with a number of countries.

After the issuing of Emiri decision No. 4 for 2016, the Ministry launched its official portal offering a range of services to the public. The Ministry also became available on social media to offer advice and interact with the public and receive their complaints.

The Ministry continued work on regulating the railway. As for ports, December so Hamad port become fully operational. Shipping and logistics processes and exports started at the port this year and were at a rapid pace. Mawani Qatar and Qatar Navigation signed an agreement to establish Q-terminals, the company that will operate Hamad port.

The ministry is currently working on completing the second phase of developing Al Ruwais port. The process, scheduled to take less than a year, will see the capacity of the port expand. A new storage facility will be built and a market will be established at the port to sell products of neighboring countries.

The ministry remains committed to developing the transport infrastructure and is developing the roads and bridges network of the entire country, as part of a seven-year programme that started in 2010. There are currently 30 projects being implemented to improve link roads, intersections and tunnels. 

As for public transport, the ministry is working on the governance of the sector in cooperation with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, Public Works Authority (Ashghal), Qatar Rail, Karwa, Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy. 

The work being done aims to improve transport system ahead of the launch of the subway. Enhancing the sustainability of transport and getting 20% to use public transport are also one of the goals and are considered one of the pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030. 

Another project the ministry is supervising is establishing a rail network, which has come a long way. As for the subway, the tunnels for phase 1 were completed in September. Work on the 111 Km-long tunnels began in July 2014. Construction work for 10 stations was finished and the trains for the subway have arrived in Qatar. As for the light rail transit project of Lusail, work is going according to schedule. Some 42% of the project has been complete. 

Meanwhile Qatar Aeronautical College saw a big leap in 2016 on all fronts. The college began implementing its strategy for developing its training courses and introducing the latest developments of aviation to its curriculum. Some 123 students graduated from the college in 2016. The total number of students enrolled currently are 434. The weather forecast department at the college became a center for regional training and held a number of courses, with GCC members taking part. 

The Northern operations of Hamad International Airport (HIA) were launched this year and aims to cater to the increasing demand for flights. It also aims to promote the pedigree that the airport has achieved globe. The airport has also began operating its passengers shuttle back in November. The year 2016 also saw testing for the transformation into a smart airport, by introducing the latest technology in that field which provide passengers with more independence and control during their trips. 

The telecommunications and technology market saw satisfactory growth levels in the state this year. It was a result of strategies implemented by the ministries. This in turn reflected on the use of technology and communication in both the public and private sector. The growth of the sector is forecast at a CAGR of 7.4% from 2014-2018. 

In the biannual E-Government Development Index (EGDI), Qatar came improved its position and was rank as one of the top 10 Asian countries. The index is prepared by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). 

The Ministry launched this year a report entitled "Qatar's ICT Landscape 2015: Government." According to the report, the penetration of technological and communication equipment was at 86%. Wireless internet connection at government entities increased by 98%. 

It also published "Qatar's ICT Landscape 2016: Business." The report revealed that there was an increasing inclination towards using information technology and technology over the past seven years. This development, according to the report, can be see across a number of indicators such as the penetrations of computers, internet and the advanced application of electronics and e-commerce. 

The Arab Smart Government Shield Award also recognized Qatar for its leadership in the field of electronic services. The government's "Hukoomi" portal won Access Certified Award from Qatar Assistive Technology Centre (Mada) for applying the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 AA (WCAG 2.0 AA). 

The ministry signed an agreement with Microsoft in June 2016 to expand the e-government services. The ministry, through its partnership with Microsoft, will bring the global experience in helping governments agencies to enact digital transformations in line with the Qatar Digital Government (QDG 2020 Strategy), by building a transformation platform, named "Sadeem". 

On online safety, the Ministry updated its SafeSpace website. It is considered a comprehensive resource for parents, teachers and youth on how to employ the benefits of the internet without compromising morals. It also discusses the best practices to ensure a safe and secure browsing of the internet. 

In a bid to support the country's strategy of diversifying the economy to achieve sustainable development. The ministry launched an e-commerce portal that contains guidelines for consumers and companies alike. The aim is to enhance the security of consumers while shopping on-line and simultaneously encourage businesses to establish an e-commerce presence. 

In a related field, the Ministry launched this year an award for technology companies in a bid to enhance their competitiveness and presence in the local market. 

Aerial transport was on the ministry's agenda for 2016, implementing a plan for training Qatari cadres through the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA). The authority also prepared a number of workshops on different fields related to its work, in a bid to develop the abilities of Qatari cadres working there. 

The Ministry also inaugurated the Gulf Marine Center, which offer the services of maritime bulletins and alerts in the region including Arab Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden. 

GACA signed a number of agreements and Memorandums of Understandings (MoU) to enhance cooperation in the field of aerial transport. The total number of agreements signed is currently 159, 14 of which were signed in 2016. 

The authority also had a number of achievements this year, starting with Qatar becoming the chair of World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Region II ASIA Working Group. Qatar will also chair the 23rd General Assembly of Arab Civil Aviation Commission (ACAC). Qatar also became a member of the commission's executive council from 2016-2018. This year also saw Qatar gain membership of the Experts Council of Air Facilities and Transport of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). 

The Authority also updated its air safety to align it with the latest European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations. The update was done in cooperation with all of the State of Qatar's designated parties. 

Skytrax named HIA as the Middle-East's best airport for the second year running. It also was in the top 10 list of the World's best airports, coming at number 10. It also won an award for best staff service. Conde Nest Travelers' annual poll saw HIA named the third best airport worldwide. 

To guarantee the sustainability of the government of Qatar's e-government projects and supporting the digital transformation of government entities, it launched in May 2016 a training academy for Qatar's digital government. The academy works on enhancing the human capital in the technology field by attracting distinguished minds to the field of electronic services. 

The Communications Regulatory Authority continues its work of regulating the telecommunication and post. Part of its work is enhancing competition and encouraging transparency in the field. It provided more than 1,350 frequencies and provided around 3,040 permits for radio frequencies. The authority also issued close to 270 permits for allowing commercial activities in the telecommunications sector. It also issued 18,480 approvals at the customs for radio and other communication devices imported by the country at its different ports. 

In a similar context, Qatar Postal Services Company (Q-Post) has managed to achieve many accomplishments, including a signed memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and Q-Post to develop a trial project for a new innovative service that would cause a leap in the method of delivering packages in Qatar. The Ministry's Smart Innovation Lab will develop an autonomous drone delivery service proof of concept, as part of many of the lab's projects to prove the credibility of the lab. 

In 2016 and under ministerial instructions the company worked on developing an infrastructure for postal service networks and systems, creating an e-commerce portal, and expanding the money transfer services.

In April, Qatar Post has launched a new online shopping delivery service called Connected which allows Qatar-based customers to shop online from overseas websites and arrange for their purchases to be delivered either to their homes, and currently holds more than 15,545 users. 

In terms of e-government services it Qatar Post played a clear role particularly by delivering the services of Metrash2 in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, where it delivered 1,723,692 processes with 97% success. It has also opened four service centers for the Ministry of Interior's Metrash2 in General Post offic, Al Rayyan, Al Shahaniya and Al Zubarah Q-Post has initiated a pilot project of home delivery services in Al Wakrah using the national address system. Q-Post is currently exploring best delivery options for customers for future roll-out. There will be a new transportation fleet to support the expansion of the services. In addition, the entity has offered door-to-door delivery to the customers that wish to have their packages delivered without trouble and has successfully delivered (4309) packages in 10 months since the launch of the service in January 2016. Moreover, Q-post partnered with different establishments and entities to offer special and various delivery services. 

On the achievements of Innovative Center for Assistive Technology "Mada", it continued enabling people with disabilities to the information and communications technologies (ICT) that can empower them to excel in all aspects of their life. It has succeeded in supporting 430 disabled students in education and 25 people with employment, and 190 people in the community sector. 

After three years of work Mada center completed the project of developing a set of symbols for alternative Communication "Tawasol". The symbols are provided with their text equivalents in Modern Standard Arabic and where appropriate colloquial Qatari Arabic plus their English translation. The initial aim was to provide a set of symbols that could complement other symbols already in use to support Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) users, those who may have low levels of literacy, learning disabilities or specific learning difficulties, where symbols can aid reading and writing skills, those individuals who have social interaction difficulties where symbols can act as prompts and Arabic as a second language and environments that require signs with words and explanatory graphics. 

The project created 300 new Arabic symbol to be used by professionals and service providers to help people with disabilities. The project has provided a way to ensure continuous updating for the symbols. 

Regarding the achievements of (Malomatia) company during 2016, the company has carried out a number of projects in the state, aiming to automate the internal institutional processes and to facilitate procedures and transactions related to clients. 

With regard to the achievements of the Qatar Satellite Company (Eshailsat), in 2016 the company completed the final designs of the satellite (ES’HAIL – 2) as well as the components test for the satellite. In June 2016 components of (ES’HAIL – 2) were assembled in order to begin the tests on the assembled system. Es’ hail 2 is expected to be launched in 2017. 

Qatar National Broadband Network in 2016 connected several vital sites for the benefit of sovereign quarters in the state. The company was able to connect 97 new sites across the state, a growth of 62% of the total sites that have been connected in the past years. The company also completed 184 connection projects with a growth of 42% compared to previous years. 

In this regard, the optical fiber lines that has been installed during the past year reached 600 km, showing a growth rate of 50% compared to the numbers of 2013 to make a total of 3950 km, representing 150% increase from the past years.