Microsoft responds to MCSE ban stories

Microsoft and New Horizons try to clear up some of the confusion over reports that certain Arab nationals can't take the MCSE exam.

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By  David Ingham Published  June 13, 2002

More light is being shed on the argument over whether certain nationalities can or cannot carry out Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) examinations.

According to reports in local newspapers this week, citizens of seven countries — Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba — are barred from taking the MCSE examination.

Between them, Microsoft and New Horizons, a major UAE IT training company, have now cleared up several points.

One crucial point, clarified by Nadeem Younis, New Horizons’ country general manager, is that while the ban does exist it applies “across the board” to several IT certifications, not just MCSE.

A second point is that the policy is dictated to New Horizons and other training centres by Prometric, an organisation appointed by most major IT companies to select training partners and administer technical examinations.

Prometric in turn takes its lead from the US administration, as an internal Prometric document makes clear: “It is… necessary to comply with restrictions placed on Prometric by the U.S. embargo. These restrictions prevent APTCs from administering exams to candidates who either live in or have an address from an embargoed country. Current embargoed countries are: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.”

The third point is that the ban is not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ thing.

According to a Microsoft statement released on Wednesday, “Our Testing centers may administer certified tests to a person that is a legal resident in a non-embargoed country such as the UAE, irrespective of the candidate’s nationality.”

What that means is that a Syrian or Iraqi national, for example, cannot take the MCSE test in their own country under any circumstances. They can, however, take the test in another country, like the UAE, as long as they have legal residence there. However, they cannot take the test in a country like the UAE if they do not have legal residence there.

Clear? Asked what the company thought of the ruling, a Microsoft spokesperson replied diplomatically: “As an American company, we have to comply with American regulations.”

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