Microsoft.NET wins Saudi Gateway contract

Microsoft.NET won the contract to build the first phase of Saudia Arabia’s e-government portal, the Saudi Gateway.

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By  David Cass Published  October 16, 2002

Microsoft.NET won the contract to build the first phase of Saudia Arabia’s e-government portal, the Saudi Gateway. No numbers are being mentioned but the project will involve the building of an XML gateway, which will connect several government ministries.

Around ten companies were in the bidding, two of which were invited to present to the government. We understand that IBM was the second bidder. The contract was around a year and a half in the evaluation process.

Bilal Sununu, Microsoft’s country manager for Arabia said, “By bringing employees, citizens, and businesses into a coherent and intelligently interactive platform, MS.NET will allow the Government of Saudi Arabia to benefit from radically increased efficiency and productivity. Computers, devices, and services will collaborate directly with each other, and the Government of Saudi Arabia will be able to offer services in a way that lets citizens embed them in their own electronic fabric. People will have appropriate control over how, when, and what information and services are delivered to them.”

It’s widely believed that Microsoft’s previous experience of building the UK government’s gateway was a major factor in securing the Saudi deal.

An insider told us, “This can be seen as a pilot project. If it is implemented correctly the kingdom’s government will begin to look at other phases, including enabling the citizen-to-government interface. At present each ministry is doing its own thing, using different systems from different vendors. The beauty of this project is that it won’t be a Microsoft-only operation. All the ministries should be able to interconnect via the Saudi Gateway, regardless of their individual systems.”

The project will be entirely designed and implemented by a Saudi company, Zuhair Fayez Partnership (ZFP-IT) which is one of the top IT development companies in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Announcing the project, a statement from the Ministry of Interior said, “This massive project will enable many NIC applications and services over the Internet. It will also enable the automation of business processes including electronic data exchange (EDE), electronic payment, and static/dynamic content. As part of the business process automation, applications for payment processing of work visa, driver/motor vehicle violation, driver license/motor vehicle, residence licenses and passports and many other services, shall be designed, developed and then deployed.”

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