eChannel 17 February 2001

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By  Colin Browne Published  February 16, 2001

Editorial Leader|~||~||~|Dear colleague,

I will have the great pleasure of visiting channel partners in Saudi Arabia this coming week, and I have a mission in mind. An investigation of this vigorous market and how is being built at the assembly, retail, and small business level is overdue and I will be researching this to see if a theory of mine plays out correctly.

That theory goes a little like this: Dubai, where I am based is a relatively open market, based on trading. That status means that Dubai in particular, and the UAE in general is heralded as the easiest and most business-friendly place for international companies to set up their offices. That much should be clear.

What is also clear is that the biggest market, is not the UAE at all. It is Saudi Arabia ... where those international companies are often not based. In recent years, it has become more common for major vendors to develop a Saudi Arabian subsidiary, or at least a branch office, but it still isn't the rule for the majority.

The theory that I am aiming to test is that of the commitment by low-end Saudi Arabian resellers to build their own market, and make it stronger. The vendors that are based there know that they are building a substantial base, and that it is going to get stronger year on year as the market grows.

My theory says that Dubai, for all its wonderful attributes, cannot say the same thing. Computer suppliers in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and others put many local resellers to shame, and it is the trading mentality that lets them down so badly.

Consider this: Iran is a market which today, provides a certain class of reseller doing re-export business a relatively healthy living. Dollar for dollar, Dubai-based re-exporters, for they are pretty much all in Dubai, can match many of their Saudi Arabian counterparts because of the huge demands from Iranian customers.

But that market will open one day to US IT firms, and it may not be very far into the future. The Japanese and Koreans have already established themselves in the market, but there is plenty more to go around. When that happens, international vendors, distributors, and the rest will set up shop in Teheran, and the re-export business will die overnight.

My theory says that it will be Dubai resellers that die, and largely, everyone else will be unscathed.

In a nutshell then, the re-export business in Saudi Arabia will be under scrutiny this week, and a comparison of the dependence on that business as compared to local in-country business will ensue. We will use that in the coming weeks to assess the ratios between the same things in the Dubai market, and try to work out what it is that traders and re-exporters are doing to brace themselves for an inevitable shakeup.

As ever, you can reach me at:


Colin Browne
Editor - Computer Reseller News Middle East
ITP Middle East
PO Box 61480
Dubai JAFZ
Tel.: 971 4 282 9996
Fax.: 971 4 282 9599
||**||News|~||~||~|Distributors in quandary over Seagate change

Seagate's Middle East distribution partners have reacted with scepticism to the company's assurances that business will continue as usual despite the elimination of the Middle East sales manager position at Seagate.

Last month, Seagate sales manager for the region, Donna Marsh, was given her marching papers as the company set out to reduce costs overall, prompting one distributor to speculate thatSeagate is abandoning its efforts in the region.

At the same time, according to Servex general manager Rahul Gupta, the business of selling hard disks will suffer through the loss of a direct and regular contact with the vendor.

"We are concerned about having nobody to look after the business so closely. Although they have assured us that [another Seagate representative] will be personally looking after this teritory, but he has got so many other responsibilities, how much focus he will be able to give is very difficult to know," Gupta told eCRN.

"And the hard drive business is a very dynamic business so unless you are testing the pulse of the market, between you and the vendor, sometimes three or four times a day you don't know how to conduct the busienss. This is my feeling. I must say that Seagate has so far given assurances that they will take care of this, but I am not so sure. Let's wait," said Gupta.

A Seagate channel partner told eCRN they were concerned that these moves, carried out by a privatised Seagate, look like a cooling down on the Middle East market. He speculated that the size of the market may not be sufficient to keep Seagate engaged, should it decide that the linos share of its business will focus on OEMs. "If Seagate makes 10 million disks a year and sells seven million to Dell, or Acer, or Compaq, then they only have to sell off the other three million through the channel and there are easier places to do that than the Middle East," he said.

Big boost from Jordan Telco

Jordan Telecom and the Jordanian government are working hand-in-hand to push the country's IT industry to the front of the nation's consciousness.

Last month, King Abdullah II put his personal stamp of approval to the Convergence 2001 gathering, a conference which saw Jordan Telecom, government ministries, and international vendors gather together to inform local businesses of achievements and future plans for the Jordanian IT industry.

The major focus of the conference was the rollout of ADSL across Jordan, but also recognised was the requirement to build IT-knowledge with a focus on schools and universities. "We are very aware that, as the new network builds out for national coverage, we need to focus on high speed access for education as a priority. The government is moving on a number of educational technology initiatives, and we are committed to supporting that process," says Dr. Shabib Ammari, chairman, Jordan Telecom.

The country still has an uphill battle to move the masses to an IT world, according to key delegates attending the conference, but expectations are high. "We are working very hard with the Ministry of Education to make sure that the people of Jordan are IT-literate," Mahmoud Kasawneh, chief information officer for the Ministry of Post and Communications told eCRN.

Initiatives have been put in place by the government to encourage IT-education throughout the country, including providing schools and universities with PCs and ADSL connection. "We are starting from the bottom and in a few years we won't have this [problem] anymore as we are breeding a new generation of IT professionals; an e-generation," says Ra'ed Bilbessi, CEO of Int@j (Information Technology Association of Jordan).

Despite the promise of high-speed connection for everyone, everywhere through ADSL, Jordan still suffers from a low PC penetration rate due to the high price of PCs, high local calls and high Internet connection rates. To this end, the Minister of Post and Communications, Dr Fawa Zu'bi put the onus on Jordan Telecom at the conference to play an active part in helping the IT industry take-off. "The industry is itching to get PCs in every home…each user needs connectivity with affordable local rates…the bottom line, Jordan Telecom, is that we also need more bandwidth."

The encouraging news for Jordanian resellers however, is that the government has plans in place with local banks to provide finance for those wishing to purchase PCs, for both the private and public sector. "The Ministry of Education has signed a deal with three banks that will finance the purchase of up to 20,000 PCs, for example, and we are trying to find ways and means to finance purchasing PCs to the less privileged," says Bilbessi.

Local company sets sights on e-security services

UAE-based Paramount Computer Systems (PCS), an e-security provider, has announced a partnership with a Finnish network security company that it hopes will improve its e-security solutions. PCS will now integrate Stonesoft Corporation of Finland's StoneBeat product range into its solutions for customers in the financial services, government, telecom, corporate and oil sectors.

The Middle East is in the infancy of the new e-security revolution that has recently taken off in the US and Europe. Awareness of a growing number of solutions on the market is beginning to grow in the region although as yet there is still not enough knowledge nor options available. This agreement will come as welcome news to many organisations in the Middle East that are starting to realise the importance of e-security in the e-business era.

Harish Kunnath, MD of PCS, believes that the new solutions provided will help companies focus on their core businesses rather than worrying about e-security issues. "The Internet has brought tremendous business opportunity," he said. "[But] with this comes serious challenges. A segregated approach to network security is no longer enough."

Kunnath said that PCS's new solutions will help provide comprehensive, effective protection against multi-pronged network attacks. This kind of security is still rare in this region but PCS is striving to ensure its customers are kept abreast of security advances in the Middle East.

ACCPAC opens Dubai office

ACCPAC, a provider of accounting and e-business solutions, is aiming to strengthen its market position in the Middle East by opening an office in Dubai.

ACCPAC, a division of Computer Associates, are also looking to work with local developers to build add-on modules that can be integrated into their existing software platforms.

The company feels the time is right to move into what it calls the "maturing Middle East market." Marc Van der Ven, regional manager, ACCPAC Middle East, said, "We feel the Middle East is an untapped market for us. We don't have a fair share of the market here at the moment; setting up an office here enables us to increase our profile in the region."

ACCPAC offers a range of business management solutions, and their accounting series is certified in the US, UK and Canada. Van der Ven added, "Our packages are affordable, scalable, internationally supported, easy to deploy and offer endless customisation."

ACCPAC's move to the region will involve providing marketing and technical support for its 20 reseller partners, which include Systronics. The company is also in talks with universities in the UAE and Gulf region about including ACCPAC in their teaching programmes.

Sun shines on server sales

Dataquest reports that Sun Microsystems stole the lead in the server market in 2000, with sales just pulling ahead of IBM. According to Dataquest's figures, Sun managed sales of $4.8 billion, up 45% from 1999, while IBM slipped 10% to $4.7 billion. Both Compaq and Dell experienced sales growth in 2000, up to $3.9 billion and $2.4 billion, while HP slipped 12% to $2.2 billion.

Sun's success had several sources, said Dataquest analyst Jeffrey Hewitt. The launch of the low end Netra servers opened up a new market to Sun that had previously been cornered by Intel. At the high end, Sun's focus on a single operating system had paid off, especially against rivals such as HP who had managed to confuse the consumer. "When you go to Sun, you know you are going to get a Sun platform," he said, "as opposed to HP, where you might be running PA-RISC or you might be running Intel IA-64 or IA-32 or HP-UX."

IBM was hit by shortages of ceramics used for chips for the AS/400, which caused a 6% drop in sales for that product line, and a slowdown for the S/390 as customers awaited it's replacement, the new G7.
In terms of units shifted, Compaq was the clear winner, with 483,000 servers shipped in 2000 up 15% on 1999, although both Sun and IBM could also suffer from overly-complicated product ranges, according to Hewitt.

IT industry alliance combats expertise

Dubai IT solutions provider, Interactive Technologies, and Egyptian Internet consultancy, Tag-Online, have linked knowledge to form a new and symbiotic relationship. Interactive Technologies will help Tag-Online develop its e-government initiative.

"We will be helping Tag-Online develop its customer base in Egypt and Saudi Arabia through the supply of technology and consultancy services in e-government and portal building," said Ziad Tassebehji, CEO of Interactive Technologies.

Aside from assisting each other, the combination of Interactive Technologies and Tag-Online will further aim to take the Middle Eastern technology industry into the worldwide market.

"Our primary focus will be on the Middle East, but we are also entering markets further afield, such as Eastern Europe," said Fadl Al Tarzi, CEO and managing director of Tag-Online. "Moving beyond the region is an important step in taking information technology in the Arab world to a new level, raising its international profile" he added.

Maktoob adds shopping feature to community site has added an Arab handicrafts section, Shop@Maktoob, to its Web site.

The feature allows users of the 'community' site to browse and order a variety of products from different Arab countries. Shoppers can pay by credit card or cash upon delivery.

As well as wanting to appeal to online buyers, Maktoob is reminding sellers that they can set up their own virtual store within Shop@Maktoob. "Shop@Maktoob has too many advantages that cannot be ignored by both shoppers and sellers," said Deema Bibi, e-commerce manager,

Products on Shop@Maktoob are listed under categories. Each product is featured along with a brief description, photo display, specifications and price. Products are delivered by ARAMEX.

Vendors already using the service include Zalatimo, Hallab, Silsal Ceramics, Nour El Hussein Foundation, Zara and LaCure (Dead Sea Products), Jordan River Foundation and Alburgan HandiCrafts. launched in October 1998 as a free e-mail service. It has steadily grown its range of services and now claims 800,000 registered users worldwide.

Saudi Commumication show proving popular

The second edition of the One to One Arabia communications exhibition is attracting some major industry players according to the organisers, Al Harithy Company. The show is being held to run concurrently with the Saudi Banking and Investment event from May 28-31 at the Jeddah International Exhibition and Convention Centre.

Nadim Barrage, managing director of Media Power, the marketing arm of the exhibition, confirmed that already over 70 local and international exhibitors have confirmed their attendance at the show. "I feel very confident about the second edition of One to One Arabia because most of the major players in the communications industry have overwhelmingly confirmed their participation," he said.

The exhibition is being supported by the Gulf Cooperation Council Advertising Association (GCCAA) and the International Advertising Association (IAA). Talal Dhulaymi, chairman of the GCCAA, was keen to stress the importance of fostering the development of advertising in the region. "This event is an important platform contributing to our mission and reinforcing the importance of the Saudi market," he said.

The event will be attended by Jean Claude Boulos, world president elect of the IAA, who will also be making a presentation on the World Advertising Congress, taking place in 2002 in Beirut, Lebanon. "The IAA is happy to endorse this unique event which gives us an excellent opportunity to introduce the World Congress to the Saudi communications industry," he said.

On the eve of the exhibition there will be an awards ceremony organised by the Saudi Research and Publishing Company (SRPC). The Sword Awards, as they are known, are well respected in Saudi Arabia and recognise achievements in the advertising industry.
||**||Incentives|~||~||~|Cisco Rewards now on for big prizes
Cisco Systems will reward qualifying resellers with new Audi TTs, Breitling watches, stays at the Burj Al Arab, and other spectacular prizes, for their exceptional sales of Cisco equipment.

To qualify for prizes, resellers must register with Cisco by hitting the link below, and then accumulate points towards these stunning prizes.

A full breakdown of points and values, and all you need to start collecting is on the Web site once you hit the link below.

To enrol in Cisco Rewards, you will require a Cisco Connection Online (CCO) User ID and Password. To obtain this, you need first to be registered as a Cisco reseller.

For further details, click on this link: href="">

3Com Focus Cash Mania
3Com launches its new promotion giving you the opportunity to start the new year with $$$ of cash!

Every month, based on the highest % of overachievement on monthly targets, eight winning companies will be announced!

At the end of the quarter, based on highest % of overachievement on quarterly targets, 15 winning companies will be awarded with cash!
Quarterly winners will be announced in the first week of March and will be awarded up to $5,000 for a Gold Partner, $3,000 for a Silver Partner, and $1,500 for a Bronze Partner.

Valid for Focus partners only on invoiced purchases from authorized distributors from 4 Dec 2000 to 4 March 2001.

For further details, please contact Focal Point on (UAE) 971 4 331 9533.

Special Discounts from Mentor Systems
Mentor Systems (L.L.C) offers special discounts for Dealers on Financial Accounting Solutions.

Sell the TOTAL Accounting System to your clients, based on 4GL, Delphi and MS-SQL. Completely Internet ready. Fully suited to the UAE market's requirements, and covering the following modules: Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Inventory (Multi-Location), General Ledger (Multi-currency), Post-dated Cheques Module, Landed Cost calculation.

Make up-to 30% margins for selling the above solutions.

For further details, please contact:

Join Mindware with Microsoft and Xerox for this special promotion
Buy Microsoft Office std. at the current market price of US$410, Mindware will give you a Xerox C8 Inkjet printer at no extra cost. There is a minimum order of 5 units.

Offer is valid while stocks last.

For more information, please contact Rabab Hasan or Anuradha Basu at Mindware Dubai. Tel: (UAE) 971 4 221 9789/224 6240, or email:,, or

Join Saudi Business Machines for huge savings with IBM
SBM are offering a massive 50% discount on IBM RS/6000 servers: Top-rated Web server, High Density Packaging of Internet and Internet Applications, 64-bit performance and availability to handle your most demanding e-business, ERP, business intelligence and database applications.

For further information, email: or Tel: (KSA) 966 2 660 007

Mindware and Intel Express Router Promotion
Join Mindware and Intel for excellent pricing on Express 8000 & 9500 routers.

Intel Express 8000 series routers:
Part numbers:
ER8100ST: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 1 x ISDN BRI
ER8100FR: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 1 x WAN serial port
ER8210EU: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 1 x WAN serial port, 1x console port

Intel Express 9500 series routers:
Part numbers:
ER9510ST: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 1 x ISDN BRI, 1 x Serial WAN, 1 x
ER9515ST: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 1 x 10 Mbps LAN, 1 x ISDN BRI, 1 x
serial WAN, 1 x console/Async
ER9530EU: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 2 x Serial WAN , 1 x console port/Async
ER9535EU: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 1 x 10 Mbps LAN, 2 x serial WAN, 1 x

For more information, email:

Tech Data & Novell: Small Business Suite 5 Offer
Tech Data and Novell are offering a special pricing on Small Business Suite 5. Small Business Suite 5 - unique market pricing is still available

Server + 5 user ONLY $372 (00662644339047)
Server + 10 user ONLY $533 (00662644339054)
Server + 25 user ONLY $904 (00662644339061)

For further details, visit: or Tel: 971 4 3346 952

Novell is also offering FREE Small Biz training. For further information, email:

Intel Network Interface Adapters pricing deal
Intel is offering IPIs a special pricing deal on Network Interface Adapters. This preferential pricing allows IPIs to buy a 20-pack at the same card unit cost as an 80-pack.

For more details, visit:

Intel Server rebate offer
Increase your margins on Intel server products with extra rebates on the PRO/100+ Server adapter.

For more details, visit:

Are you offering any special promotions?
Do you have a special promotion that you want to inform the channel about?

We would be happy to include any incentive programmes or special promotions that you are running each week in eCRN.

For more information - please send full details to Dealer Incentives.

For more information on the Middle East IT Reseller Channel - visit Computer Reseller News Online TODAY.

||**||Training Diary|~||~||~|ARE YOU HOSTING A RESELLER EVENT?
Do you have any events for the industry that you would like to see listed here?

If so please send a message to Events Diary today and we will add the listing in a future edition of eCRN.


February 20-22: Sun Educational Training Centre. Storage Management with DiskSuite training: Join Sun Microsystems for training on storage management.

The training course is priced at $1875.

For further information and to register, email: or Tel: (UAE) 971 4 3366 333, or visit

February 25-March 1: Sun Educational Training Centre. Sun Systems Fault Analysis Workshop training: Join Sun Microsystems for training on fault analysis.

The training course is priced at $2610.

For further information and to register, email: or Tel: (UAE) 971 4 3366 333, or visit

February 18-19: Oracle Sales Champion Training: a 2 day, 'fast track' sales training for sales managers and representatives of Oracle partners.

Oracle Sales Champion training will focus on the sales positioning, pricing and licensing of the Oracle product, as well as business practices.

An annual roadshow for both new and existing Oracle partners, Oracle Sales Champion training will show partners how to match the customer's e-business needs with the correct Oracle solution.

The course is essential for partners wishing to become an Oracle Certified Solution Partner, and is available by invitation only.

For further information, or to register, contact: or

For more information on the Middle East's computer industry - why not visit - the region's leading business and technology web site.
||**||Recruitment|~||~||~|SEARCHING FOR CHANNEL PERSONNEL?
Are you looking to hire experienced channel people to expand your business? Why not advertise your positions to over 3,000 registered members of the Middle East reseller channel for FREE every week in eCRN?

If so please send a message to Recruitment today and we will add your job listing to the next edition of eCRN.

Hewlett-Packard: Corporate Channel Managers
Hewlett-Packard is looking for three people (1 in each of Dubai, Cairo & Riyadh) to manage HP's Corporate Channel.

The managers would work with large PC dealers in territories spread across 11 countries who have direct contracts with HP as well as manage the HP VAR Channel which sells high-end solutions.

Required experience: reseller channel knowledge in the region plus solutions sales experience. The ability to work at all levels in a reseller organisation and an understanding of channel issues. The right individuals are likely to be working today for either another IT vendor, a distributor, a software house or a reseller.

APPLY NOW: Please send an email attaching a CV to

Tech Data FZ LLC: Sales, Financial, and Marketing positions
Distribution without Limits!! These are wide-ranging roles in an environment that is creative, progressive, challenging and rewarding and the growth plans for the region are phenomenal.

Director of Sales: develop and ensure implementation of sales strategies and concepts in line with the company's strategies. Direct and control sales operations with the team to achieve agreed upon revenue and margin targets of the company within the company's strategy and to contribute to the country's annual operating plan. Ensure superior customer satisfaction.

Finance Director: you will ensure all projects and initiatives contribute to agreed strategic objectives, advise on maximizing collective income where opportunities impact on various divisions. Responsibilities include financial planning and a strong control regime in a multi-site environment and you will be charged with bringing a broad based knowledge of economic, financial and commercial trends and offer detailed leadership in the finance, treasury and accounting functions

Marketing and Communications Manager: develop and ensure implementation of Marketing strategies and concepts in line with the company's strategies. Direct and control the marketing operations and resources to support the Sales, Finance and Operations functions in achieving agreed upon targets within the annual operating plan.

Apply now: contact Zakeera Vidler HR Manager in full confidence on

||**||Next Month|~||~||~|In Next Month's Computer Reseller News Middle East


Skill shortage in the channel
It's discussion time for recruitment, training, and consultancy firms as they and their vendor/reseller customers tell us where the shortages lie, why they exist, and what can be done about it.

Wireless Networking
It is new and exciting and offers a wealth of unexplored opportunities for resellers the channel. We look at what that opportunity is and where it lies.

Retail differentiation
In the computer street-area of every Middle East city, there are a collection of retailers, lined up, one by one, all apparently selling the same things in the same way. But some are successful and some are not. We'll look at what they are doing to make the difference.

Behind the Scenes: financial trends; who is winning and who is losing; company acquisitions, mergers, and sell-offs.

Fast Forward: finding new solution add-ons to increase your overall margins.

E-Business: technologies and trends in this emerging channel opportunity.

Logistics: logistics, shelf life, and product cycles and how they affect the channel.

Upstarts & Startups: companies bucking the trends and new technologists with no respect for the status quo.

Infrastructure: the big-project VARs and what they are working on now.

Dealers Wanted: information on all the new vendors looking for resellers in the Middle East.

If you think you have anything to contribute to one of the above features - we would be very happy to hear from you. Contact CRN editorial at ||**||

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