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Afghanistan and its neighbors to the west--the developing countries in the Middle East--face a common deficiency: They are missing out on much of the Information Revolution. Although pockets of high access to communications lines exist in these countries, for the most part they lag far behind developed countries in their access to and use of information and communication technologies (ICT). The authors of this paper focus on a number of key questions: What social and cultural factors contribute to the "digital divide" in the Middle East? Is bridging the digital divide important to the continued economic and social development of the Middle East? If it is important, what should, or can, be done to facilitate the use of ICT? And what additional information is needed to formulate effective policies to promote the use of ICT in the Middle East? The authors suggest a two-step approach to testing the feasibility of enhanced Internet access in Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East: Select one or more potential areas for performing a feasibility analysis, along with thorough user research, and based on the information gathered in the first step, partner with a business or development organization to establish a prototype Internet center.

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