Saudi Arabia has been keen to use open source software (free software). The CIT national plan describes the open source software as “software that can be freely accessed and edited. It does not belong to the ownership of any party”.
In its third year, the plan’s objective provides for “ Development of the CIT industry, concentrating on strategic areas and encouraging business enterprises”. The policies to meet this objective include: Boosting the efforts of CIT localization. A project entitled “Supporting open source software industry” has emerged therefrom.
The plan describes the project as seeking to “encourage local programming industry depending on free software for its programing requirements and creating a thriving market through selling of services and technical support and cost saving by becoming less dependent on software licenses for over-the-shelf-software. The project seeks to adopt supporting of open source applications, research and development in this area”.
King Abdul Aziz City for Science & Technology (KACST) is taking care of this project. It has established the National Program for the Technologies of Free and Open Source Software dubbed (Motah). The program encourages and boosts using of free and open source software through creation of partnerships with several partners from both the public and private sectors in order to meet the program’s objectives. The program provides and facilitates various activity aspects of the free and open source software e.g. developing and supporting of software, building of open source resources, establishing of software digital library and supporting of research in the area of open source software.
Considering the crucial significance of this matter, an initiative for identification and using of open source software has been included in the e-Government 2nd Action Plan. The initiative objectives provides for:
- Encouraging of identification, development and utilization of open source software in Saudi government agencies.
- Delivering of advisory services on open source software applications in government agencies.
- Providing of guidelines on the world best practices with respect to introducing of open source software in government agencies.
- Provide awareness and training for government agencies on utilization of open source software.
- Create favorable environments through which interdepartmental collaboration can be maximized, ensure sharing of respective ideas, best practices and achievements.
Initiative implementation tools:
- Investigate existing status in government agencies with respect to adopting and utilization of free software.
- Conduct training workshops on important issues in the area of adoption and utilization of open source software in government agencies.
- Provide support to government agencies on developing of strategies, policies and business processes for utilization of open source software.
These fruitful efforts have enticed a lot of government agencies on the significance of the open source software, adoption of the concept and creating a keen interest to utilize them.
From its side, the e-Government Program has adopted the open source software concept. The following parties have benefited from the program in establishing of their own websites and electronic platforms:
- 1- Saudi Community: A social platform that boosts social involvement and transparency between the public and the government agencies through discussion and suggestions. It allows interaction between members of the public and the government agencies through discussion panels, Saudi Blog and Our Ideas platform..
- 2- Transition Community: A platform for IT and e-Government professionals. Through discussion and suggestions, it boosts knowledge sharing among professionals on the Saudi society e-transition. It allows interaction among them using discussion panels, blog and ideas platforms..
- 3- Open data portal: an e-Government initiative designed to create an open data center for the public and to boost transparency and involvement. It is a platform that publishes government agencies’ databases for access by the public who can download and use the data.