eChannel 24 February 2001

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By  Colin Browne Published  February 25, 2001

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

You have to wonder how Saudi Arabian businesses are ever going to get onto the Web with the access problems they have. I have just spent a week in Riyadh, and as far as I was able to collect my email, I may as well have been on the dark side of the moon.

It is a big problem, but it was refreshing to sit down with a number of ISPs, service providers, and other industry insiders and get such an enormous dose of honesty on the topic. They are frustrated and angry at the poor show by the Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC), and the necessity to go through KACST (which rumour has it is a little unhappy itself to be involved in the fiasco which is the Kingdom's online services).

I had the opportunity to sit down with the Deputy Minister for Technical Affairs at the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Commerce, Dr. Fawaz Alamy, and ask him about some of the challenges the Kingdom is facing, and we'll be bringing that to you over the next few weeks. I have 11 tapes of conversations to work through here, so you're going to have to hold on for a little while!

But the overriding feeling I got from the various conversations, with those in the private sector is that e-business strategies in the Kingdom will be in limbo forever unless things start to change.

What is encouraging to see however, is how much behind-the-scenes work the government is doing to try and get the Kingdom's online strategy together. Still, the longer it takes, the further behind Saudi Arabia will fall in the race to be the region's leader. It was interesting to note, for instance, how many Batelco people I bumped into in Riyadh in a single week. The challenge is on.

Perhaps then, it isn't surprising to note the enormity of the upcoming e-commerce conference in Riyadh in May. The organisers, with whom I had lunch last Wednesday, have gathered together the Saudi Ministry of Commerce, The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, KACST, the United States', British, and Malaysian governments, and the United Nations, to address the Gulf on what must be done to make e-business work. Throw in speakers from Sun, Intel, Microsoft and Nokia, and you have a powerful set of experts to speak on the topic.

And it is taking place in Riyadh, not Dubai. Some may call it irony, considering the shambles that is in evidence there today. Me? I call it an indication of things to come. There is much work to do, but the people I spoke to seemed unanimous that they are not willing to wait in silence. Saudi Arabians waited a long time for the Internet. Now they want it to meet its potential, and quickly.

This may be the most interesting regional development to watch throughout 2001.

By the way, to those of you I didn't manage to see last week, please accept my apologies. I'll certainly catch you in a couple of months.

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|~||~||~|Network Associates redefines channel strategy

Network Associates (NAI), has undergone a major restructuring to repair the damage done by its end-2000 sales collapse. The new model adopted by the company will see success measured by sales out of the channel, rather than sales into distribution, as has previously been the case.

"You don't really know how much of a marketshare you have until your products are out there, not just being stuck in a distribution warehouse. That caused a big problem," said Thomas Mina, product manager for Network Associates in the Middle East.

"Now what is going to happen is a lot of the distributors are going to focus on moving the stuff they have in stock right now, and selling it out. We are assisting with that," Mina said.

The ineffective sales strategy which NAI previously employed was the result of its historical direct-sales approach, said Mina.

"Two things were behind that notion. If you take a look at NAI in the past, we never had this two-tiered distribution model. 70% of our business was purely direct sales. Then they did the acquisition of [Dr. Solomons] and some of the other companies, and they were into two-tiered models. So what we did was, about a year and a half ago, changed the model, and everything we did was going to go through distributuion, to partners, to end users. They changed the model, but didn't understand how the model worked. They were treating the distributors as end users, but that isn't a two-tiered model," said Mina.

AMD wants the enterprise

AMD says it is time to tackle Intel in the enterprise space, putting its high-end Athlon processors up against the Pentium III Xeon and Pentium 4 chips of its giant rival.

The change in tactic from this traditionally consumer-focused processor manufacturer comes at a time when AMD has reached what it calls near-saturation of its consumer market potential.

"In the US and Europe, we have nearly a 40% market share for the desktop in the consumer market, so how much more can we increase there?" said Middle East sales manager for AMD Raz Sobhaini.

That head-on clash should be in the enterprise space, if it is to happen, AMD believes.

"More and more government department are accepting us now. More and more educational departments and insurance companies and banks are accepting us now," said Sobhaini.

"So this is where we want to go. Our marketshare is very low there just now-it is even less than 5% in those areas. And there, from 5% to increase to 15% or 20% would take us less marketing money by just applying our efforts correctly, the same as we did in the case of the consumer business," he said.

Aptec adds value to channel

Aptec is pushing hard to add value for its resellers this year by improving services for its channel.

According to a new mission statement by the company, value-added distribution (VAD) is the way forward for Aptec, and resellers will see the range of new services introducted by the company during last year's Gitex show in Dubai, pushed to the maximum.

Services introduced last year included minimal shipping charges, B2B facilities and support desks.

"The channel may not like the word 'box-shifting, but at the end of the day, that's the core of distribution business. Now how you can add value to that box you shift, is what we call VAD," says Bahaa Salah, regional general manager, Aptec, Gulf, Lebanon and Africa.

The overall plan to build Aptec in to a value-added distribution company will include consultancy, training, technical support, account servicing and new logistics concepts; services that will be introduced this year.

Computer shoppers can browse for phones

Shoppers at CompuME computer megastores will now be able to browse for mobile phones from Fono within the same shop.

The two retailers have signed a deal that will see Fono mobile phone outlets open within each of CompuME's chain of stores around the Middle East.

CompuMe in Dubai will be the first store to house Fono's outlet, but Riyadh, and Jeddah will soon be added along with Cairo when CompuME opens its store there.

"CompuMe is always looking to offer the best to our clients, and to partner with the world's finest IT and telecommunications companies," said Dikran Tchablakian, chief executive officer. "It was thus very logical for us to combine forces with Fono, whose outlet at CompuMe allows customers to learn how to connect Phones to PCs, PDAs and digital products so they can benefit from the mobility that the Internet age is bringing to the world."

Housing mobile phones and computers together fulfils Fono's vision of offering more than just voice call services. "The move into CompuMe is part of Fono's strategy of providing customers with a full mobile Internet solution," said Ara Nakhnikian, managing director, Fono Distribution Services. "We are looking to integrate the sale of data services and mobile phones with PC products so that we can instantly provide customers with e-news and Internet-on-the-move."

CompuMe Megastores are currently open in Dubai, Riyadh and Jeddah. The CompuMe network is slated to encompass 25 Megastores by 2003 in locations that will include Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Turkey, Oman, Syria, Libya and Greece.

Third local online recruitmnent service launches

The Gulf's human resources departments have another option when it comes to seeking out employees online. The latest player to enter the Gulf's competitive online recruitment market is Egyptian company,, which has established a UAE office and plans to open in Kuwait in April. is a three way venture between business advisor FinRate Consulting, executive headhunting firm SkillRate and LinkdotNet, a large private ISP.

Between its establishment last year and its arrival in the UAE this year the company's focus was solely on the Egyptian market. But now, managing director Alaa El Ghadban is eyeing the Gulf market and he's set himself an ambitious goal. He says that he wants to make the Skill-link 'man' in the company's logo (above) as recognisable as the Michelin 'rubberman.'

In order to do that, he'll have to take on two well recognised rivals in and, which just upped the ante by launching its service in Arabic. claims its edge is competitive pricing and a policy of total confidentiality for job seekers.

Job seekers using Skill-link enter all of their information into a pre-defined template and any element that may give away that candidate's identity is blanked out. Employers using Skill-link are able to specify exactly what they are looking for through a simple interface that uses drop down menus.

Around the core job and employee search facility, Skill-link is trying to build up additional 'value-add' such as hints and tips, recruitment news and case studies.

Pricing for Skill-link has been set at a competitive rate to build up clients. Employers pay an annual subscription of AED 3000 in the UAE, plus AED 1000 if they hire an employee.

"We've tried to be cheaper than the cheapest alternative," says El Ghadban. "We needed to give users that kind of incentive."

If a hire leaves within three months of taking a job, El Ghadban says Skill-link will try to replace the employee and won't charge for doing so. The service is entirely free of charge for job seekers.
UAE country manager, Heba Ali-de Maurissens, says that Skill-link also carefully vets CVs before they're posted, and meets candidates before they go for interview with an employer.

Revenue will come from annual subscriptions, placement fees and advertising. El Ghadban says he expects profitability in Q2, 2002.

Whilst believes it has a good story, its rivals have also been active in the market. insists that its new Arabic offering is vital if it's to offer employers and job seekers a complete service.

"We are operating in a region where most of our users, both job seekers and employers, speak Arabic as a first or second language," says Rabea Ataya, chief executive officer, "It is crucial that we provide them with the opportunity to make important decisions regarding their careers and lifestyles using the language that they are most comfortable with."

Bayt began operations around November last year and says that it's now signed up 1400 employers and has 25,000 job seekers in its database. Its list of clients includes Motorola, Gray Worldwide and Cisco.

Bayt declines to reveal how many people it's successfully placed since its launch, but reckons it will be operationally profitable in six months time. CEO Ataya also said that advertising revenue is building steadily, although's business model isn't reliant on it., based out of Egypt like, has also recently been beefing up its service. The company now has 12 country-specific channels on its site and recently claimed to have over 100,000 job seeker CVs in its database.

Its latest move is to add an online payment mechanism to its Web site, allowing employers to pay subscription and placement fees instantly online. "The new online payment feature makes recruiting via even easier," says Tarek Amin, chief marketing officer and co-founder of

Only time will tell whether all three sites can co-exist or whether competition will ultimately bring about consolidation. In the meantime, the Gulf's human resources personnel have a healthy choice of online recruitment services.
||**||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 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 28: Mindware/Citrix MetaFrame XP Launch. Join Mindware and Citrix for the launch of Citrix MetaFrame XP at the Four Points Sheraton, Bank Street, Dubai.

The launch is FREE and will include a presentation from Antoine Aguado, Distribution Manager, Citrix Systems, Southern Europe.

To register to attend please visit

March 11-15: Sun Educational Training Centre. TCP/IP Network Administration training: Join Sun Microsystems for training on network administration.

The training course is priced at $2500.

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


March 20: Mindware/Citrix MetaFrame XP Launch. Join Mindware and Citrix for the launch of Citrix MetaFrame XP at the Hotel Al Khozama, Riyadh.

The launch is FREE and will include a presentation from Antoine Aguado, Distribution Manager, Citrix Systems, Southern Europe.

To register to attend please visit

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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