Meeting the needs of the industry

Helal Saeed Almarri, CEO of Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), explains how GITEX Technology Week has been expanded to make the show even more educational and interactive this year.

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Meeting the needs of the industry Almarri says the show will confront key IT topics.
By  ITP.net Staff Writer Published  September 23, 2009

What changes have been made to GITEX Technology Week for 2009? Why?

GITEX Technology Week continues to evolve and expand to suit the needs of the ICT industry and we make a number of modifications each year following discussions with many of our partners to ensure the event remains relevant and focused.

The main change you will see at this year’s show will be the Consumer Electronics section of the show has moved to the new Sheikh Saeed Halls at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibitions Centre.

The expansion of the venue will allow the show to implement new features such as our Smart Office and Smart Home, which will showcase the latest technology in the environment it is designed for. Also new for this year are the Vendor Theatres on the show floor where companies can present new solutions to the market.

An expanded GITEX Global Conference will also provide an excellent outlet for visitors and exhibitors to focus on the trends in the industry. This year the conference will confront issues around the topic of ‘Defining the value of IT in a challenging economy’.

GITEX Technology Week 2009 will also feature a dedicated government section reflecting the marked increase in public spending which is driving a need for advanced ICT solutions, especially in eGovernment.

What will co-locating MEFX with GITEX Technology Week bring to the event?

There is a natural synergy between the banking industry and the ICT sector, so it was an obvious move to bring MEFX in as part of GITEX Technology Week. The region’s banking industry remains one of the fastest growing in the world, and with support from Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), we believe that MEFX will be an integral part of the show.

MEFX is an invaluable platform for decision makers to discuss the latest innovations and developments that are necessary to drive the industry forward.

As the banking industry continues to evolve, industry professionals are required to keep abreast of new developments and challenges. Issues such as Basel II compliance, risk management, security, regulation, monetary union, and banking consolidation are all at the forefront of today’s agenda.

MEFX will also have a dedicated day as part of the GITEX Global Conference. Topics such as ‘Dealing with consolidation and benefiting from it’ and ‘IT in Islamic banking’ will be covered by experts. The CIO of Dubai Bank, Faisal Eledath and Mohamed Al Ojaimi, the Technology Solutions Director for the Financial Services Industry at Oracle, will be among the speakers.

How has the GITEX Global Conference programme expanded and what will it offer this year?

As companies around the world come together at GITEX Technology Week to exchange knowledge and prepare for the upturn, the GITEX Global Conference programme will be one of the most important areas of the show.

Entitled ‘Defining the value of IT in a challenging economy’, the Conference has been expanded to more than 40 tracks covering IT, telecoms, consumer electronics, and the banking industry.

We have also included a new feature called ‘Leaders in Industry Breakfast Briefings’ specifically for high level executives, where internationally-renowned speakers will outline key trends and offer industry insight.

Leading professionals from companies including Dell, Dubai Bank, Dubai Customs, Forrester, Gartner, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Symantec will be presenting at the GITEX Global Conference during the week.

Has the financial crisis made a difference to the nature of this year’s show?

I think the impact of the financial crisis has made a difference to current business operations all around the world, and while the Middle East has remained relatively well protected during the last year, we are aware that companies are looking for an environment to come together to share knowledge regarding the future of the industry and explore new business opportunities.

The ICT sector in the Middle East has one of the highest growth potentials in the world, with leading analysis providers Business Monitor International estimating the market will grow a further ten percent by 2013. This strength is attracting many international companies to put resources into the market, as other, more traditional regions, experience a slowdown.

Industry leaders realised that face-to-face engagement with regional clients, especially this year, will provide the best outlet for preparing for future business growth and have therefore been fully engaged with GITEX Technology Week. We are therefore experiencing many new companies coming to the show, and former exhibitors returning including Aastra, Dell, Integrated Telecoms Company (ITC), ITIDA, Kaspersky, and McAfee, while South Africa will have its first ever pavilion at GITEX Technology Week, and other companies are looking to enhance their participation through increased stand space and sponsorship opportunities to help them stand out from the crowd.

While some areas of ICT have experienced difficult times recently, areas such as telecoms and government spending are actually seeing an upturn in investment. GULFCOMMS is proving a very popular part of the show, and all of the government departments will share a dedicated area on the show floor for the first time.

What feedback did you receive from 2008 that has been implemented in organising GITEX Technology Week 2009?

As organiser we work very closely with all of our partners, exhibitors and visitors to ensure they receive the most from the show. Following discussions from last year it was clear that companies were looking for an environment which promotes knowledge exchange and education, and we have made concerted efforts to improve and expand the opportunities at the GITEX Global Conference.

The show will also provide Vendor Theatres, special presentation areas have been designed to enhance knowledge exchange about the new products on display. They will allow for an interactive experience between trade visitors and exhibiting companies. Trade visitors to the show floor can participate in these sessions for free, offering an opportunity to see showcased products in action.

How do you measure the success of the show?

Companies come from all over the world and expect a certain level of service and delivery at GITEX Technology Week. It is important that we attract the highest possible quality of visitors; those people that make the decisions within their organisation, and we look to ensure that they have a great experience at the show. We have seen a marked increase in the number of ‘C-level’ executive attendees, which has helped to increase the amount of new business done on the show floor, and seen these people returning year-on-year.

Each exhibitor has a different reason and objective for being at the show, from corporate branding, market research, client relationship building, and sourcing new business. Success is an individual metric, but as the show’s organiser, we look to ensure each exhibitor and visitor ends the show year having enjoyed good business exchanges and met their expectations.

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