The Levant IT market continues to appeal to global IT vendors, regional distributors, solution providers and resellers. However, the continued political instability stemming from internal conflicts in Syria and Iraq has cast uncertainty on the long-term growth of the IT market in that region.
The Levant continues to be a challenging but rewarding market for ICT players that are flexible and responsive enough to take advantage of investment surges as they arise at a local level. Despite the constant shadow of the Syrian crisis, which is an inevitably volatile influence on the political and economic stability of neighbouring countries, there is a real buzz in many pockets of the region, which is seen as an increasingly dynamic sub-section of the broader Middle East landscape.
“In some countries we are seeing considerable investments in infrastructure and ICT projects as organisations are looking for additional ways to grow in order to compete at a global level,” said Ghassan Al Khalout, regional director at end-user IT analytics specialist Nexthink.
“Multinational brands have been expanding in the region due to a growing demand for IT services and solutions, which leads to expanding opportunities for the channel. However, political instability in the Levant countries brings challenges throughout the region. We are investing in countries where there is a high level of growth, including Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, and we are actively recruiting channel partners across the region.”
The trouble is that for every Jordan and Lebanon, there is another country in the region where more complex financial, political and geographical issues impede market growth.
“The situation is not good, especially in Iraq and Syria,” said Conrad Young, country manager, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan at network stalwart TP-Link. “Our market [has] become slower than before but we still have a big share and we are trying to protect our customers. Actually it is hard to estimate IT-spend in the region this year but our target is to maintain our market share at a time when everyone is suffering.”
Alain Penel, regional vice president – Middle East – at security vendor Fortinet, agreed that regional ICT investment is moving slowly, and this is having a knock-on effect on the amount of investment both public and private sector organisations are willing to put into IT infrastructure.
“The Levant region has requirements that are similar to other countries in the Middle East and North Africa,” he said. “At the moment, certain countries in the Levant are quite dependent on funding provided by the US or the EU to support their IT growth and investments.”
This perspective is reinforced by Omar Barakat, regional manager Levant, Libya and UAE at McAfee, now part of Intel Security, who said the region’s IT market remains under intense pressure to catch up with new technologies while being hindered by limited budgets.
“In addition to that, and due to the general situation, the region is suffering from massive migration of good talent – which is putting tremendous pressure on enterprise managers who are forced to work with fewer resources,” he said. “The combination of all this is leading to a delay in the majority of projects and some of them are pending for more than three years!”