Middle East and North Africa

AVERAGE SCORE

18
out of 100

READINESS AVERAGE

34
out of 100

IMPLEMENTATION AVG

17
out of 100

IMPACT AVERAGE

10
out of 100
1 Almost all countries in the MENA region are backsliding on open data, with rankings and scores down since the previous Barometer.
2 Due to a lack of civil society engagement with open data, there is little pressure for governments to make data public, particularly in relation to social issues.
3 There is not one truly open dataset in the region, out of the 180 datasets we analysed in our study.

General regional highlights and findings

Climbing one place, Israel is the only country in the MENA region to improve its ranking in the fourth edition, and remains the only country in the top 50 of the global ranking. In general, countries in the region have made no progress on open data implementation and barely improved on open data readiness. The momentum the region had when most countries began their initiatives a few years ago appears to have faded.

No government in the region publishes data, open or closed, in some areas usually considered essential to improve social policy or government accountability. While some do recognise the potential of open data to drive economic development, the general absence of political leadership in this area has led to a lack of open data awareness, capacity and legal frameworks.

Regional Ranking

Global Rank Score Country Readiness Implementation Impact
28 46 Flag Israel 66 37 42
50 32 Flag Tunisia 45 32 22
59 26 Flag United Arab Emirates 47 23 12
74 19 Flag Qatar 41 18 2
74 19 Flag Bahrain 33 20 7
74 19 Flag Saudio Arabia 37 15 12
79 17 Flag Morocco 38 12 7
85 14 Flag Egypt 27 14 6
87 13 Flag Jordan 28 11 6
100NEW 8 Flag Palestine 23 7 2
104NEW 6 Flag Lebanon 17 7 0
114 0 Flag Yemen 0 6 0

Open Data Barometer 4th edition - Regional ranking

How’s the region performing against the rest of the world?

Readiness

Some countries, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, have recently started working to improve their open data strategies.

Countries have shown no, or very little, progress on their respective open government data agendas. No government has adopted the Open Data Charter, making the region one of only two in our analysis (alongside the Caribbean) with no Charter adoptees.

Implementation

Some datasets in the region are frequently available — such as national census, government budget and international trade data — although not as truly open data.

Only 66% of data in our analysis was available online. Most data in the MENA region is locked with legal or technical restrictions. Land ownership, government spending and company registers are the least accessible datasets in the region.

Impact

While social impact has been non-existent in the past, the region showed the first signs of impact in this edition. For example, an Israeli startup is using available air quality data to combat pollution

With the exception of some limited examples in Israel, the region is failing to harness the impact of open data. It is even missing out on the kind of economic impacts that are commonplace in the rest of the world.

Country Profiles

Despite falling in the global ranking, Egypt advanced slightly at the regional level, with efforts to improve its open data readiness and advancement at the implementation and impact levels. There was increased interest in open data from civil society (through urban planning and transport initiatives) and from academia (e.g. the access to knowledge initiative). The country hosted several data-driven innovation events and activities in the past two years, illustrating this increased engagement.

However, with no sustainable process and with inadequate political commitment, this open data progress may fizzle. Datasets are frequently outdated and face licensing, quality and discoverability issues, often making them useless. This is particularly common for data required for social inclusion and citizenship rights.

UAE remains in 3rd position in the region. As a regional economic hub with heavy investment in ICT infrastructure and state of the art technology, the country is well-placed to progress its open data efforts. While it understands the potential of open data for economic development and social well-being, it seems less interested in open data as a tool for citizen empowerment and government accountability.

Some of the Emirates have become fairly advanced in their provision and use of data, such as Dubai with the Smart Dubai initiative and the Dubai Data Law, even if these are not strictly open data initiatives. Others have made more modest efforts. The federal administrative structure is likely hindering the implementation of open data due to the dispersed distribution of data ownership and management.