Internet services are freely available and the main cities have several Internet service providers and Internet cafés. High-speed DSL is available. States of the Arabian Gulf were to have increased their IT spending by 11.6 per cent to $8.6 billion during 2008, on the back of rapidly growing investment in software, according to a regional consultancy firm. Saudi Arabia was to have been the biggest spender at $3.76 billion.
Internet users in Saudi Arabia spent more than $3.2 billion in 2007. Almost half of all Saudi Internet users reported that they purchased products and services online and through their mobile handsets in 2007. The same study estimates the number of e-commerce consumers in Saudi Arabia to exceed 3.5 million, representing 14.26% of the population. The Saudi Government has already passed a number of regulations to control and monitor electronic transactions, i.e., regulations for e-transactions and cyber crime. Additionally, the government has allocated close to $800 million to implement the E-Government initiative. A published report has mentioned that in order to drive Saudi Arabia’s e-government initiative forward, a YESSER program (in Arabic world means “to facilitate”) was launched by the government to develop the first National e-Government Strategy and Action Plan which will be implemented within the next five years. The YESSER program’s role is to enable the implementation of individual e-government services by ministries and other government agencies, on the one hand, by building the national infrastructure and defining common standards which these agencies can use; and on the other hand by providing best practice examples and accompanying implementation of pilot services. Moreover, YESSER will ensure an appropriate level of coordination and collaboration between implementing agencies. The vision for Saudi Arabia’s e-government initiative is user-centric and focuses on a number of aspects, which will revolve around the central notion already mentioned, i.e., providing better government services to the user. It is understood that users are individuals (citizens and expatriates), businesses and government agencies. By the end of 2010, everyone in Saudi Arabia will be able to enjoy from anywhere and at anytime world class government services offered in a seamless user friendly and secure way by utilizing a variety of electronic means, which will contribute to Saudi Arabia’s prosperity.