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Towards spatially enabled local governance

Municipalities are perhaps the key stakeholders in local governance. While most parts of the world are moving towards enabling grassroots level planning and decision-making, the Middle East region has emerged over the years to be an almost perfect example of efficient and effective local governance. The municipalities of the region are strongholds of development and progress.

Simultaneously geoinformation technologies are being used since the early stage of their development in the Middle East region. The preconditions for their use are very favourable for the region.

In such a promising scenario the Municipalities in the Middle East region, especially in countries like UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia, are making good use of GIS to manage their utilities such as sewerage, water supply systems, road networks etc. Town planners are using the technology for preparing master plans, zoning maps and for monitoring building permits and cadastral information.

They are getting aware of the attractive capabilities, which GIS provides. Many promising case studies are emerging from the region, which highlight the enormous benefits resulting from the application of the technology. It is surely has the momentum to become a true public utility tool in the near future.

The government of the region needs to further develop programmes in this regard so that the technology leads to improvements in the quality of decision-making, facilitation of information sharing among officials and with the public, making municipal information and transactions easily accessible via the Internet.

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