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B2B emerging in the Middle East

B2B opportunities are emerging in the region, but according to Sagheer Mufti of Saudi American Bank, it could be five years before Gulf corporates are able to seize these opportunities.<br>

B2B opportunities are emerging in the region, but according to Sagheer Mufti, GM, head of operations/technology and e-commerce, Saudi American Bank (SAMBA), it could be five years before Gulf corporates are able to seize these opportunities.

“Corporate culture is becoming firmly entrenched in today’s Middle East and a sophisticated market place exists,” said Mufti. “B2B exchanges can be valuable alliance partners for these corporates, so we envisage B2B opportunities and growth throughout the region.”

However, e-commerce in the region is hindered by the lack of enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms in medium-large companies.

“Large organisations in the Middle East should scale their back-end automation first. The next step is to invest in the e-procurement infrastructure to enable them to purchase online,” added Mufti.

“A minimum of five years is needed to achieve this level of maturity in the region. However experience in other parts of the world has shown that if the SME sector realises the benefits, they will move faster than most forecasts indicate.”

Mufti was speaking in advance of ABTEC 2001, the first Arab E-Banking and E-Security summit, to be held on April 8th and 9th, in partnership with www.sheikhmohammed.co.ae.

The SAMBA e-commerce chief will deliver a presentation, ‘B2B Exchanges: Hype and Reality,’ at the conference, aimed at establishing the regional e-commerce progress. SAMBA see three key e-commerce opportunities for banks; providing e-payment settlement solutions for e-trading communities, utilising e-commerce for internal needs and supporting client online transactions.

The summit will be held at Emirates Towers Hotel in Dubai, and more than 250 Arab, Islamic and international bankers are expected to attend.

“No bank can ignore the onset of e-commerce and ABTEC 2001 will address the regional successes, shortcomings and requirements to adopt the technology while satisfying shareholder and client security requirements,” said Douglas Mellor of International Transmedia Limited.

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