Apart from the utilization of advanced technologies in medicine, telecommunications, oil and gas industries, the information technology has only been recently introduced in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in general and in particular to the public sector. The official launching of the Internet services in the Kingdom in 1999 is a milestone towards realizing the full potential that information and communication technology (ICT) offer to the Saudi society at large. Indeed, the Internet has raised awareness and spread the use of computers in daily lives in Saudi Arabia.
Despite the modest progress made in the use of IT in Kingdom, more needs to be done to realize the full potential especially at the organizational level. The 7th & 8th national development plan encouraged government institutions to acquire the necessary hardware, software, systems and human resources to promote their use for the acquisition, processing, presentation and dissemination of information in order to gain productive efficiencies in the public sector and better service the Saudi citizens, the ultimate goal of development.
In light of the above, UNDP engaged with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to develop the e-Readiness, e-transaction and e-service of the ICT Infrastructure to become ready for e-government. It introduced the e-visa system at MOFA systems to deal with various bodies, such as local governments, Ministries, banks, more than 90 Royal Embassies around the globe and a large number of citizens all over the world.
The project established a global network infrastructure that connects and integrates the diverse entities involved in the Visa System, such as local governments and banks, over and above world wide private agencies and embassies. The network includes WAN, leased lines, internet and wireless technologies.
In addition, e-Visa system has been developed completely in-house that can receive, process, store and retrieve Visas electronically and interactively anytime and anywhere around the world on real-time basis. As a result, productivity has increased by more than 60%. Moreover, the e-Visa system provides generation of codes that incorporate the personal data of Visa holder. The codes can be retrieved by special reader at all Saudi boarder crossings. This innovation facilitates machine readability of the printed Visa sticker on the passport and further deters fraudulent actions.
In addition, optimum specifications of Visa sticker and printer with certain technology have been used to meet the exceptional requirements of this business. Unlike traditional procedures, this approach makes it virtually impossible neither to forge the code nor to displace the lamination holding the Visa data it also augments quality and enhances efficiency. For more details on this project click here