Middle East must join ‘knowledge economy’

Since 2001, the Middle East has recorded the largest growth in internet users among the major world regions, as the number of citizens accessing the internet has soared by more than 600%.

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By  Administrator Published  May 26, 2007

Since 2001, the Middle East has recorded the largest growth in internet users among the major world regions, as the number of citizens accessing the internet has soared by more than 600%.

Mobile technology is booming as the use of mobile devices and laptops is rising, however, connectivity and broadband remain challenges.

Despite the current political situation, there is 10% broadband penetration in Palestine. Abdul M. Al Jaber, vice chairman and CEO of the country's Paltel Group, argued that "Broadband access should be free and content should not. We can work with venture capitalists and incubators to create content."

"Governments need to create a regulatory framework," suggested Bernd J. Hoefer, CEO of Intelnacom, in Bahrain.

"To become a technological powerhouse you have to be attractive to investors. This means having regulations. For example, regulation for intellectual property rights is helpful for R&D activities."

"There is a trade-off between sustainability and technology production he continued. "The only way to get sustainability in technology production is through R&D." He pointed out that the current boom in the region is due to investment in real estate by investors seeking quick returns, rather than investment in technology, innovation and R&D.

Gordon Graylish, Intel's vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, highlighted the need to foster entrepreneurship within the Middle East region.

"The area has a strong tradition of technical education, but the entrepreneurship motive is missing." We will invest another US$1bn in this area, in the spirit of enlightened self interest," added Graylish.

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