Night of glory for channel champs

The winners of the 2009 Channel Middle East Awards enjoyed their moment in the spotlight as the recipients of this year’s accolades were finally revealed

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  March 24, 2009

The winners of the 2009 Channel Middle East Awards enjoyed their moment in the spotlight as the recipients of this year’s accolades were finally revealed in front of a packed channel audience last night.

Although the end of Q1 is nearing fast, vendors, distributors and resellers cast aside all thoughts of quarterly sales targets and profit ratios for a few hours in order to catch up with industry colleagues and learn the identity of this year’s winners.

More than 300 channel executives from around the region made it to The Westin hotel in Dubai to honour outstanding examples of excellence in the market and pay tribute to the individuals and companies that have led the way in terms of Middle East channel development during the past year.

It is no secret that conditions in the market are a lot more subdued than they were at the time of the last Channel Middle East Awards a year ago, but that certainly wasn’t evident from the mood inside the Serdaal ballroom as the names of the finalists and winners were announced.

As well as collecting awards for their endeavours in the Middle East channel during the past 12 months, the likes of Computerlinks, Westcon and Promate all made a claim for the unofficial title of noisiest table!

With more entrants than last year, and over 2,000 votes cast in the reader-voted categories, all 17 awards were fiercely contested by companies based throughout the region including Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The evening kicked off with the presentation of six vendor awards to the brands judged to be top in their respective fields based on channel engagement in the Middle East. Western Digital, Cisco, Promate, Citrix, Xerox — for the second running — and Sun Microsystems were the companies that took the applause this year.

The introduction of new channel certifications to drive SMB growth and an increase in the amount of soft skills training courses for partners saw Cisco edge a very strong Networking Vendor of the Year category that included stand-out entries from both Cyberoam and F5 Networks in particular.

Peripherals was an equally competitive category as big name vendors such as Logitech and Microsoft went head-to-head. In the end, however, Promate picked up the trophy for its success at increasing merchandising activities, improving marketing resources for partners and pioneering store-in-store projects with retailers such as CompuMe and Virgin Megastore.

The night was also memorable for the enterprise distribution community as ComputerLinks, Aptec and Westcon Middle East Group all triumphed — with ComputerLinks’ Alexandra Pisetskaya earning the prize for the most enthusiastic celebration!

Once again, distribution proved to be one of the most popular categories, drawing a record number of entries. Comstor, Logicom, Mindware, BDL and Saudi HP giant AIM were just some of the names that could easily have found themselves on the winners’ podium following the commendable job they have done in the market.

Elsewhere, there were victories for Microsoft, Redington Gulf, Pro Technology, Al-Futtaim Technologies and Sharaf DG, while Juniper’s Taj El-Khayat was crowned Channel Executive of the Year and Al Yousuf Digital’s Ahmad Qasem collected the Outstanding Contribution to Channel award.

While all the winners deserved to be rewarded for their accomplishments in the channel during the past year, it must be said that the good work isn’t only limited to those organisations.

Many of the companies and individuals present last night — and indeed those who couldn’t make it — continue to demonstrate tangible examples of effective channel development, which is vital for the long-term health and future of the Middle East IT channel.

There is no doubt that all tiers of the channel must remain focused on generating value, investing in new skills and ensuring customer satisfaction during these challenging times. Such characteristics have certainly been visible among the majority of this year’s awards nominees.

There will be extensive coverage of the awards ceremony in the forthcoming issue of Channel Middle East and Channel Arabic so make sure you get hold of your copies to see the full list of finalists and winners, as well as pictures from the event.

In the meantime, congratulations to all last night’s winners, and to those runner-ups and finalists that didn’t quite make it onto the stage here’s to the 2010 awards!

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