Bitcom opens factory in Kingdom

Fledgling computer manufacturer Bitcom has opened its first assembly plant in Saudi Arabia. The company claims the factory will be the first in the Kingdom with the capacity to produce notebooks and LCD screens.

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By  Dylan Bowman Published  June 11, 2006

Fledgling computer manufacturer Bitcom has opened its first assembly plant in Saudi Arabia. The company claims the factory will be the first in the Kingdom with the capacity to produce notebooks and LCD screens. The 2,000 square foot Silicon Valley Factory for Information Technology in Riyadh will manufacture up to 700 units a day under the Bitcom brand when the facility comes on line in the next one or two months. “The Bitcom assembly plant in Riyadh heralds a new era for Saudi Arabia’s IT industry,” said Bitcom CEO Najeeb Al Ashqar. The Bitcom factory will employ 20 people initially, but this will rise to 60 in the next year and a half — with Saudi nationals being encouraged to apply through an initiative with the country’s Human Resource Development Fund. “Not only will the plant further enhance the Kingdom’s capabilities as a nation that has IT credentials to more than match its regional neighbours, but it will also offer opportunities for Saudi nationals to train and work in one of the most challenging and fast-paced industries in the world,” Al Ashqar added. The company will delay beginning production while it waits for International Standards Organisation (ISO) certification — which will then qualify it to participate in the Saudi government’s ‘PC for homes’ initiative. “We are negotiating with the government. If we pass ISO that means we qualify to be considered for the programme,” Al Ashqar told IT Weekly. The factory will initially focus on producing laptops and LCD monitors for the Saudi enterprise, small to medium-sized business (SMB) and small office/home office (SOHO) markets, but Al Ashqar said the company’s operation would expand to other countries and include server and desktop production. “For the first year the products will be for the market in Saudi Arabia, then we will try market in other gulf countries,” he went on to say. Al Ashqar said his company was investing US$2million in the factory and Bitcom brand — rising to US$5million within the next 18 months. He said capacity would also rise over the same period with the addition of two assembly lines to complement the two the facility already has — increasing the number of units produced to 1,500 a day. “At the moment we have two production lines, but we are expecting after maybe 18 months to increase our capacity and put in an additional two lines, this depends on the demand of the market,” Al Ashqar explained. Bitcom will face stiff competition from the likes of Acer and HP, which both have assembly plants in the Kingdom — the latter announcing at the beginning of May it was increasing production at its facility.

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