Report from the Ministry on the Safer Internet Day (SID 2018)

Monday, February 5, 2018

Ministry of Transport and Communications Mandate

The Ministry is mandated to address cyber safety for all communities in Qatar: “increase awareness, propagating a culture of safe use of the internet amongst society members and providing the knowledge and analytical skills necessary for the safe and optimum use of digital communications technology”

The government is proactively investing in people, developing policies, and implementing technology for Qatar to be an IT enabled society. In line with the mandate, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has successfully implemented and delivered a number of programs aimed at increasing awareness and education for the community to be responsible and safe online fostering a healthy cyber culture. Qatar is a regional pioneer in delivering cutting-edge mobile technology, which is on the brink of becoming a ‘smart nation’ and has one of the most active users of internet and social media in the region. Ms. Reem Al Mansoori, Assistant Undersecretary of Digital Society Development Sector at MOTC said in a statement: ‘We are committed to ensuring that while we build a smart Qatar, we will also build a safe and smart society. Our lives have become a constant transition between the real and online world, and as a proud nation of believers of justice, freedom, benevolence, equality and high morals, we must ensure that our online personas are representative of who we are and the values we believe in offline. The Ministry is leading the way in addressing cyber safety from an ethical perspective and we will continue to expand our provision with the support of strategic partners to encourage society to embrace responsible and ethical online behaviors.” 

Qatar high on the internet usage chart

As a nation, Qatar has a high penetration of internet and social media usage among its people. Qatar boasts a high internet penetration, with 95% of individuals using internet, which has been increasing year on year (95% in 2017 vs. 85% in 2013), while penetration of households with an internet connection stands at 95.8%. Out of several countries, Qatar has the most unique social media patterns. About 93% of people in Qatar use WhatsApp, about 70% use Instagram and 64% use Snapchat. This latter percentage represents perhaps the highest Snapchat penetration in the Arab world. Research has shown that Qataris on average spend around 45 hours per week on the internet, almost twice that of other nationals. Given these high consumption rates of the internet and social media services across the country, raising cyber security awareness and equipping the community with the right guidelines and resources is of paramount importance to the Ministry.

Partnerships

In order to strengthen its commitment towards enhancing cyber safety awareness programs and to expand its reach across all communities in Qatar, the Ministry has fostered strategic partnerships with other Ministries and leading industry participants.

MOTC has collaborated with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) to jointly run cyber safety learning programs termed as                 Digital Literacy Curriculum (DLC). The Ministry has also developed a portal called “Haseen” with supporting content for teachers to use and integrate cyber safety learning moments in regular classes.  After successful run for 3 years, the Ministry has collaborated with MEHE for leading the further expansion of delivery.  Ms. Fawzia Al-Khater, Assistant Undersecretary for Educational Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE), said, ‘We are delighted to work with MOTC to ensure the school community advocates and embraces cyber safety as an integral part of the school day and curriculum.  It’s a moral obligation for all of us to ensure that children are continuously engaged in dialogue about their online behavior, and the Ministry will ensure that we reach to as many teachers, students and parents as we can.”

MOTC also yesterday signed an MOU with Vodafone as partner on cyber safety initiatives. Vodafone has already delivered creative and engaging workshops in 10 schools covering almost 1000 students and will continue to collaborate with MOTC on a number of other cyber safety initiatives to ensure continuous and effective awareness and education reaching more and more people. Vodafone is committed to doubling the efforts in schools this year and participating in joint initiatives with the Ministry to reach a wider school community including parents who play a vital role in ensuring the online safety of their children. 

“We launched AmanTECH, Vodafone’s online safety programme, in 2014 which has equipped thousands of children, parents and teachers with the right tools to navigate the digital world safely. We are committed to ensuring that this programme is a long-t