The Ministry of Interior is determined to expand e-services for citizens and residents offered through ABSHER to make it the principal conduit for them to interact with government agencies, according to Prince Bandar Bin Abdullah Al-Mashari, assistant minister of interior for technology affairs.
Delivering the keynote speech on “MOI Digital Transformation Program” organized by American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) Jeddah Chapter, Prince Bandar revealed that with over 11 million registered users and an average of 220,607 daily transactions ABSHER has become integral part of life in Saudi Arabia.
Prince Bandar, with a doctorate in electronics from Pittsburg University in the US, is one of the principal architects of digital transformation and cyber security in the Kingdom.
Presently 93 services are being offered through ABSHER, Prince Bandar said, adding that many other services and interaction with government agencies will be available.
Issuance of birth certificates, renewal of passports, updating particulars in passports and many more services have been integrated with the ABSHER platform. From offices to field, ABSHER will be a vital link, the assistant minister said.
He said some government agencies want to avoid digitization to maintain their grip, but the Ministry of Interior aims for greater openness and transparency and is working to totally transform the ABSHER domain.
Prince Bandar said the Kingdom was a pioneer in digitalization in the Middle East. It has adopted digital technology for services and transactions.
This will go a long way in positioning the Kingdom as an innovative early adopter of technology in public services while emphasizing the strong business and economic environment and potential within the country.
The prince said Saudi Arabia was the first country in the region to establish a National Information Center (NIC) in 1980. He explained that electronic visa for Haj and Umrah was introduced in 2004, electronic payment in 2005, e-governance in 2007, exit and re-entry visas in 2008, Absher system in 2010 and the National Digital Security Center in 2018.
Emphasizing data security, Prince Bandar said the Ministry of Interior has turned the plastic identity cards of the citizens into digital cards.
Information Technology and Digital governance is one of the core themes of Vision 2030 for which Kingdom leadership is steadfast and committed to achieve excellence, he added.
Prince Bandar said IT and digital governance has become vital in the current era of the 4th industrial revolution age.
A brainstorming session was held during the forum wherein prominent experts presented their opinions about digital transformation and security measures.
Brig. Mohammed Al-Hamdan, director general of Higher Commission for Industrial Security; Dr. Bandar Al-Janna, president of American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) Jeddah Chapter, Dr. Salah Al-Ghaidan, director of the National Center for Information Technology ay King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, and Mohammed Al-Karbi, director general of the National Center for Cyber-Security, addressed the gathering.