Decision Support Systems (DSS) and their applications in the Arab Governments

Information systems are instruments created by man to help him speed up completion of the work, and decision-making in an environment characterized by rapid change, and complexity of variables. Since the beginning of their appearance, information systems have evolved into different types, each of which serve a certain administrative level, and characterized with distinctive characteristics.

A brief history of DSS

In the early 1960s, organizations were beginning to computerize many of the operational aspects of their business. Information systems were developed to perform such applications as order processing, billing, inventory control, payroll, and accounts payable. The goal of the first management information systems (MIS) was to make information in transaction processing systems available to management for decision-making purposes (Arnott and Pervan, 2005). By the 1970s, it was evident that the prespecified information products produced by such management information systems were not adequately meeting the decision making needs of management, so the concept of decision support systems (DSS) was born. The new role for information systems was to provide managerial end users with ad hoc, interactive support of their decision-making process (O‘Brien and Marakas, 2009). By the late 1980s, executive information systems became very useful in companies and further broadened the scope of decision support (Bhargava and Power, 2001).

DSS definition

A “decision support system” may be defined in many ways. Some definitions emphasize hardware and software components; others focus primarily on function. We can define it as:  “An interactive software-based computerized information system intended to help decision-makers compile useful information from raw data, documents, personal knowledge, and business models to identify and solve problems and to make decisions” (The National Forum on Education Statistics. 2006).

Types of DSS

Many kinds of (DSS) were developed such as: Data-Driven DSS, Model-Driven DSS, Knowledge-Driven DSS (or intelligent DSS), Web-Based DSS (Power, 2001). These kinds were also applied in different economic fields: industry, commerce, and financial institutions. And in both: public, and privet sectors.

DSS applications in Arab governments

Here we only focus on giving examples on the applications of DSS in public sector in Arab countries. (Khorshid, 2004) Report declared that DSS applications in the Arab countries are broadly divided into special purposes, and general purposes integrated DSS.

Special purposes:

This category represents a very useful tool for addressing a specific problem or supporting a particular decision. These DSS applications include for example:

  • Foreign exchange rate policy in Egypt (Khorshid, 2004): to face the shortages in the foreign exchange with negative impacts on growth and balance of payments.
  • Economy-wide loss from the second gulf war in Kuwait (Khorshid, 2004): is concerned with the estimation of the economy-wide indirect loss, resulting from the invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.
  • Development planning scenarios for Egypt (Khorshid, 2004): designed to face the slowdown in the economic activity, a shortage in foreign exchange earnings, structural imbalances in the labor market, a relatively high rate of unemployment, and a growing government deficit.
  • Fiscal reform program in Kuwait (Khorshid, 2004): to evaluate the impact of suggested fiscal reform policies on the economy up to 2005, and to capture economic multiplier effects of Kuwait’s fiscal program.
  • External debt management system in Egypt (Kamel, 1998): to serve the large number of loans; this system was important to manage payment schedules, renegotiation of terms and interest rates, and monitoring transactions with a large number of creditor countries, banks, and international agencies.
  • Customs tariff policy formulation in Egypt (Kamel, 1998): to develop a homogeneous and consistent tariff structure, increase revenue to the treasury, and minimize the impact on low-income groups.

General purposes:

This category general purpose DSS tools are not particularly designed for specific application, problem or issues. They provide general software capabilities that can fit several decisions using alternative analytical tools or models. The use of this category is very limited In the Arab countries. There are two successful examples:

  • The Development Planning Decision Support project (DPSS) of the Ministry of Planning in Kuwait and the Information (Khorshid, 2004).
  • Decision Support Center (IDSC) of the government of Egypt (Kamel, 1998). The first DSS center to be established in the Arab countries.


Arnott, D. and G. Pervan. (2005, June). A Critical Analysis of Decision Support Systems Research. Journal of Information Technology, (20) 2, 67-87.

Bhargava, H. K. and Power, D. J. (2001). Decision Support Systems and Web Technologies: A Status Report,

Kamel, M. (1998, July). Information Systems for Public Sector Management: Working Paper Series Paper No. 3 Decision Support Systems and Strategic Public Sector Decision Making in Egypt. Institute for Development Policy and Management.

Khorshid, M. (2004, September). Model-Centered Government Decision Support Systems for Socioeconomic Development in the Arab World. In Proceedings of The International Conference On Input-Output and General Equilibrium: Data, Modeling and Policy analysis Brussels, Belgium.

O‘Brien, J. and Marakas, G. M. (2009). Management Information Systems (8 Ed.). McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Power, D. J. (2001, June). Supporting Decision-Makers: An Expanded Framework,

The National Forum on Education Statistics. (2006, September). Forum Guide to Decision Support Systems: a Resource for Educators,

Edited by: Dr. Majdi Soubhi Arrif (4, September, 2017)



Photo: “Kingdom tower ..” by AA jhr is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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