The chapter is part of the book ‘Active Citizen Participation in E-Government – A Global Perspective’ and is co-authored by Ibrahim Ahmed El Badawi, Strategic Planning Specialist, Emirates eGovernment. The book, published in the USA by Information Science Reference/IGI Global focuses on the issues and challenges that the governments worldwide face with regard to the adoption and implementation of online civic engagement initiatives.
Commenting on the relevance of the chapter, Salem Al Suwaidi says, “Social media has a swelling influence and statistics establish their unmatched reach when compared to other media. Governments have started noticing this and are increasingly embracing social media as an indisputable means of communication with the citizens.”
“Writing this chapter gave us the opportunity to catalogue our journey in establishing the ‘Guidelines for Social Media Usage in UAE government entities’ document. I hope our experience proves to be an example and source of guidance for other nations,” he adds.
Emirates eGovernment had launched the guidelines document in March 2011 at a workshop for federal entities. The document lays down certain useful practices and safety measures that aid in the effective use of social media.
The chapter ‘Social Media Corporate Policies for Government Organizations’ also offers insight on how the government officials perceive the use of social media tools in government entities, the barriers of utilising social media in government entities and the issues that need to be addressed in the social media policies for government entities in the UAE.
The authors’ comprehension on the matters came from continuous and in-depth interactions with representatives from the federal and local government entities in the UAE through workshops held for the specific purpose.
In the topic dealing with the barriers of utilising social media in government entities, the authors note that the issues are in “the difficulty of measuring the gained value of citizen engagement through social media and the ‘hierarchical social media divide’ between decision makers at the higher levels of the hierarchy and technology-savvy at lower levels. The enthusiasm of the latter to go online is not enough without the support of the former who in many cases prefers to continue doing the government business with the same well known traditional methods.”
The chapter also offers a background on the UAE and its governance system, the eGovernment programmes in the country, the current level of social media adoption by the government and the citizens and the forces that will drive their use. The chapter ends with advice on research directions in the future.
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