Secret CIO

I didn't go. For the first time in years, I didn't go. The show behemoth that is GITEX had to cope without me. I was all set to head down - I'd packed my compass, survival kit and a week's supply of rations - but then, disaster struck.

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By  Secret CIO Published  October 7, 2007

I didn't go. For the first time in years, I didn't go. The show behemoth that is GITEX had to cope without me.

I was all set to head down - I'd packed my compass, survival kit and a week's supply of rations - but then, disaster struck.

"Finance are changing all of their reporting structures - we need you here next week, in case something goes wrong." The CEO delivered this news as one might comment on the clouds in the sky.

I gaped at him, slack-jawed with shock. "Not a problem, is it? I know you'll have to miss your trade show thing, but there's another one next year." The CEO ambled off, heedlessly abandoning me to the full horror of the situation.

Ok, so I'm laying it on a bit thick - but GITEX is a bit of a personal institution for me. Since moving to Dubai, I haven't missed one yet, and where I'm based in the city, I don't have the same accommodation or flight issues many visitors face.

Over the many, many, many years, I've grown used to treading the halls, smelling that unique trade-show smell, seeing the latest products on offer - and of course the, erm, special helpers demonstrating them (you know who I mean).

I was quite looking forward to it this year, with the expectation of a marginally quieter show thanks to the September timing - and without the added joy of smuggling in my son that I had to put up with last time.

I had a whole list of stands to visit, people to see, sales guys to tease. I'd heard a rumour that some companies might be selling off their plasma and LCD TVs cheaply at the end of the show, and I thought I might risk She-who-must-be-obeyed's wrath and try my luck with that.

Instead, I was in the office. It felt - surreal. I would glide through rooms, as if on another plane of existence - people would look at me strangely, as if there was something they were missing. Then realisation would hit, and they would hang their heads in silent complicity with my plight.

Well, I did get some strange looks, and more than one person thoughtlessly asking "Hey, aren't you supposed to be in GITEX?" Needless to say, I have now perfected my death stare.

In the event, I wasn't needed anyway - the finance realignment reposition adjustment whatever (it's someone else's job to pay attention) went off without a hitch. The most I needed to do was talk down one of my tame geeks from a particularly nasty caffeine overdose - too much coffee liberally dispensed over a 20-hour marathon session.

Strangely, I thought I would be more upset about this - after all, it meant I had basically wasted a week. But instead I feel a sense of inner calm - no anger, no frustration, no regrets. Well, actually I tell a lie - I would very much have liked to have been around when SAP finished off SAP Arabia, but that's more about some personal issues between me and the German software giant.

I've broken the GITEX chain now, and like it or not, things won't be the same again. I've taken the leap of faith and survived - the world didn't end, no one's shouting at me, life goes on.

So will I be at GITEX next year? I hope so - I really do like the event, even if people do look at me strangely when I say that.

But - now that I've missed one - we'll just have to wait and see...

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