At one time individuals did not interact much with people outside their own village, town or city, let alone in other countries. However, with the advent of telecoms it has become easier for businesses and individuals to interact with other businesses and individuals across the world. This is true for all parts of the world, including the Middle East.
Good communication is vital for businesses. The use of digital PR is increasing sharply in the Middle East, as it is across the globe. The Middle East has over 300 million social media users, and each of the area’s regions has its own digital PR potential. The Middle East has seen a significant increase in digital budgets, but there are still three main challenges for digital PR: monitoring, budget and bandwidth. Unlike many other regions of the world, the Middle East still sees growth in print circulation for trade, and daily publications as the main source of business news. However, a study that focused on Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and the UAE has shown that the political climate has seen a significant shift to news consumption from digital sources. This is expected to increase in the coming years.
The Emirates Telecommunications Corporation, which trades under the name Etisalat, is based in the UAE and operates across 15 countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The company’s mobile network operation is the 17th largest in the world, and it has been named the most powerful company based in the UAE by Forbes in 2012. Ehsan Bayat runs another successful telecommunications company, which he set up to improve communications across Afghanistan. It is one of the largest internet and cellular phone providers in Afghanistan, with more than 3 million subscribers.
For developing economies in general, improved communications are vital for development. Whether it is local traders or large businesses operating on an international stage, good communications are important for success. Economic development depends on access to information, and governments should try to ensure that all their citizens have access to new information technologies. Economic development depends on communication at all levels, from the local producer marketing his or her goods, to the minister negotiating a trade deal. Governments that invest in creating good communications and information flow establish the conditions for economic growth and fair markets. The revolution in communication and information technologies, such as telecoms and the internet, offer exciting opportunities for small entrepreneurs and large-scale businesses.
In the late 20th century, the three main driving forces for economic development are transport, television and telecommunications. Together, these provide the foundation for growth in world trade. Telecommunications networks facilitate the trade in goods by bringing together buyers and sellers, but perhaps even more importantly, telecommunications also promote trade in the services that modern economies are built upon. Telecommunications is also important because it is a cornerstone of a market democracy, with information passing directly from individual to individual. It does not encourage the centralization of information, which is why repressive regimes have always tried to control it.