India’s president visits the show

The President of India, His Excellency Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam made a whirlwind visit in the early afternoon to yesterday’s show.

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By  Greg Wilson Published  October 21, 2003

The President of India, His Excellency Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam made a whirlwind visit in the early afternoon to yesterday’s show. Most of Dr. Kalam’s time during his visit was devoted to the 29 companies that make up the Indian Pavilion.

“We view this market as a great opportunity and the visit of the president [Dr Kalam], to the Indian Pavilion is a testament to how important we view the Middle East,” says D.K. Sareen, executive director, Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC), the organising body behind the Indian Pavilion in hall 8. “For a long time we viewed this market as dormant, but over the last five years the situation has rapidly changed,” he adds.

Indian has managed to construct a massive US$10 billion IT export industry, however, in light of economic downturn in the US and European markets, it is keen to expand its customer base into emerging markets.

“We have a massive IT export industry, but we found that 60% of our business was based in the US. We were very dependent on the US market. One of the challenges of growing the business is not having that heavy reliance,” says Sareen.

“In order to reach our target of building a US$50 billion IT export [business] by 2008, we have to diversify into other markets. The Middle East is a natural extension for us,” he adds.

There are a number of factors that make the Middle East appealing to the Indian IT industry. Firstly, is the close geographical proximity — it takes less time to fly from Mumbai to Dubai, than it does to fly from Delhi to Bangalore. Secondly, there is already a large Indian community present in most Middle East countries, and finally, the region is investing heavily in IT.

The Indian Pavilion in hall 8 is offering a range of services, including everything from financial services application suites, custom and off-shore application development, localisation work and full outsourcing. “We are showing a wide range of skills, products and services here today,” says Sareen.

ESC has been organising trade delegations to visit the UAE and other Gulf countries for the last two years, and there are signs that Indian IT companies are gaining a strong foothold in the region. For instance, Wipro and Satyam Computer Services have both made their presence felt in the region’s services market.

Also, some of the Middle East’s larger end user organisations, such as Emirates Group have been outsourcing ‘coding’ work to off-shore developers for some time.

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