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Imagining a
Government of the Future in the
Middle East.

An ambitious Middle-Eastern government hired McKinsey to help reimagine what it’s future offering to citizens could look like. Within just four weeks, the team had to work together with various government agencies, architects and production companies to deliver digital and physical concept prototypes, develop a new government brand and produce a high-quality inspiring video to communicate the initiative to the general public. I was in charge of developing the prototype for the government’s digital portal of the future, also helping with managing production of the promotion video and the physical “branch of the future”. You can read more about this project in a related McKinsey article and visit the final site here.


Due to extremely tight timelines, the research phase had to be limited to just 1 week, during which the team conducted in-depth interviews with residents, experts, key stakeholders (including representatives of the ruling family). To define success, the team also conducted a benchmark analysis of other successful eGov implementations (e.g. Estonia). Key themes that emerged from this brief research phase were unity and community engagement:

1. Unity

One of the most important themes that emerged during the brief research phase, was the government’s ambition to be viewed by residents as “one government”. No longer would residents need to contact various government agencies with the same documents. Instead, residents could go to the government’s site, mobile app or contact point, and simply submit their request once. Behind the scenes, a new united workflow would enable various government agencies to work together on the same case without involvement of the resident. This new thinking lead to:

  • New branding and brand positioning, as “one government”
  • Creation of a single site for all government-related affairs and questions
  • Creation of government “kiosks” and “contact centers” (later a prototype of “branch of the future” was constructed)
  • Implementation of several new use-cases, where government agencies actually had to work together in the same workflow

2. Community Engagement

Interviews with residents revealed that the local government was seen as a “caretaker”, in the image of a kind and generous older man who takes care of his family. The government aspired to continue being viewed with trust, as an integral part of the local community. To advance its efforts in bringing the community together, the digital prototype got a variation of a “Facebook wall” where citizens and various government stakeholders could share events, updates and information, as well as engage in conversations. Similar structure was created on most popular social media sites. Moreover, the layout of the new “branch of the future” that was being developed with an architecture company, now included a modular space for community events and talks. Its overall shape was also changed to resemble a “nest”, using various local materials to create a semi-transparent circular structure.

In order to determine the overall visual direction for the UI and branding, I organized an “inspiration afternoon” where all stakeholders and project team members could share a design, image or an artefact that for them - resonated with the government. Natural variations of beige, red and blue stood out as key colors of the arid desert, sky and sea. Sometimes with their bright variations to represent the colorful markets. But beyond colors, the defining element of the local aesthetic were mesmerizing Arabic patterns that can be seen in many places in the region.

The final concept of the government portal was split into 4 main sections: 

  • Wall. Similar to Facebook Wall, this section included personalized information, updates, polls and reminders of important dates and events. Residents were invited to comment on posts, creating a feeling of community online.
  • Locker. This was designed to be a one place for all resident’s data and documents. With a simple click, residents could instantly share their documents with the relevant authorities and private companies (e.g. banks, telecoms), as well as manage information on behalf of their relatives.
  • Services. All government’s services were summarized in just 4 key sections: living, working, visiting and doing business. Information was divided that way after a Card Sorting exercise. Consequent testing revealed that with this structure, most users were able to correctly find the relevant section.
  • Community. A place for community’s calendar, events, news and content. From here, users could add events to their personal calendars, set reminders and consume relevant content (e.g. articles, video).


To present the prototypes, the team installed “the branch of the future” at one of the community’s most popular malls - complete with the new government brand and “one government” site in its self-service kiosks. Residents were invited to the branch to talk about the effort and to demonstrate how their government business could be conducted in the future. The team took careful notes of their feedback and concerns. Finally, a group of most senior government officials was also invited to experience the branch as ordinary residents. Positive reception created support for a large program to re-organize the government around this new shared vision. Now almost a year later, many government services have been digitized and optimized around this “One Government” concept and the government is now seen as one of the most innovative in the region.

Thank you for reading! Here are other projects you might find interesting to learn about:

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