ORIENT II 2024: Aspects of digital transformation from the Gulf to North Africa

Please access this edition of our quarterly journal through the ORIENT website

“Digital transformation” may have become a 21st century buzzword, but it is also a subject matter too often disregarded in practical terms. Its significance cannot be overstated, as the processes that this broad concept encompasses will shape the generations to come. In this issue of our quarterly journal we set out to examine what this entails, including digitisation, digitalisation and artificial intelligence; digital education and training; the transformation of the MENA media and start-up scenes; digital infrastructure and the implementation of smart cities; as well as its legal aspects, environmental legacy and geopolitical effects on the regional order. Some MENA states are already global pioneers of new digital technologies, while to others it offers the chance to leapfrog intermediate technologies. This transformation has the ability to enhance economic growth and enable the provision of e-services, yet it also has weighty implications in terms of ethics, digital rights and civic participation. We explore some of these interwoven threads here and strive to raise these questions in other disciplines in the future, with the topic also looming over the rising global status of China and India, for example.

We begin this edition with a contribution by Christopher M. Davidson on securitisation in Gulf states as a consequence of the digital transformation, before James Shires expands on cybersecurity diplomacy in the MENA region. Joe F. Khalil and Mohamed Zayani consider youth aspects of “digital publicness”, while Ayad Al-Ani focuses on hindrances to digitisation in Arab countries and the potential of smart cities. Nong Zhu and Xubei Luo then delve into online aspects of the MENA business world. I hope that this issue provides you with some novel and interesting perspectives.