Is the US trying to stop IT training in the Middle East?

A news story from the UAE caused considerable confusion last week, by saying that people from US embargoed nations, including several Arab countries, were barred from taking the Microsoft MCSE test.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  June 15, 2002

A news story from the UAE caused considerable confusion last week, by saying that people from US embargoed nations, including several Arab countries, were barred from taking the Microsoft MCSE test.

Microsoft has clarified that it is only candidates resident in embargoed countries that are barred from taking the test, but the situation is still unclear.

Prometric, the testing company (tests are administered by third party testing companies) that first refused to administer tests, says that as it is an American company, it must abide by the rules laid down by its government.

There are certainly testing companies that aren’t American that are still offering testing to nationals of the embargoed states.

Of course, by Prometrics reasoning, it is not able to offer testing for other American IT vendor’s certifications. Many other vendors have so far kept very quiet indeed about the subject.

The heart of the matter seems to be why Prometrics has suddenly decided that the embargo covers it services, and if non-US companies can legitimately offer testing to nationals considering that they are offering testing for certification on US-vendors products? It seems to me like saying a non-US distributor can sell US products into embargoed countries, while a US distributor can’t—which surely is nonsense.

The embargo has been in place for a long time, so why is it only now that training has apparently been included?

The editorial team at ITP is doing its best to get some clarification on this issue, but it does seem that the rules need to be set out as quickly and clearly as possible, because depending on interpretation, it looks like the US government is now attempting to strangle training and certification to those countries it has decided to embargo.

This threatens not only the livelihood of tens of thousands of IT workers in the Arab world, but potentially to stunt the growth of the economy in some of the largest countries in the Middle East.

The authorities need to think very clearly about what they are trying to achieve, before explaining what the rules are now.

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