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Massive market growth attracts vendors to show

The Middle East’s unparalled IT growth rates mean an increased number of global vendors want to do business in the region

For all the talk of showcasing new kit, networking, and meeting old friends, Gitex is all about one thing — business. What’s more, the potential to do business in the Middle East grows by the day, much like the trade show itself.

According to the latest figures from research firm IDC, IT spending in the GCC states alone is expected to total almost US$5 billion in 2005, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE accounting for 46.8% and 30.4% respectively.

“The Middle East is going through a growth phase, the likes of which the region has probably not witnessed for 30 to 40 years,” says Joseph Hanania, managing director at HP Middle East. “Coupled with high oil prices, everyone is working hard to ride this growth wave,” he adds.

Regional spending on IT hardware will surpass US$20 billion a year by 2009, while DWTC director general, Helal Saeed Khalfan Al Marri, claims the MEA region saw IT spending increase by 2.1% to US$21.53 billion last year.

The boom time currently being experienced by the Middle East’s IT sector means serious investment on behalf of the industry behemoths that are already here. Computer Associates, for example, has spent the past 12 months investing in new offices, headcount and its channel.

“Since launching our direct operation in September 2004, we have invested millions of dollars,” says Gilbert Lacroix, vice president & general manager for CA in the Arab countries.

In addition to those expanding existing workforces, IT firms are coming from far and wide in an attempt to tap the market. Indian software giant Tally Solutions, for instance, will use Gitex to unveil its regional plans.

“Gitex provides the ideal vehicle for Tally to issue a clear intention of our market plans,” says Bharat Goenka, managing director at Tally Solutions. “As such, Gitex 2005 is the first step of our expansion into MENA and the majority of our future relationships that will power Tally in this objective will be forged at the show," he adds.

And, with firms from as far as Malaysia, Singapore and even Armenia also itching to get in on the act, the likelihood of a business-filled Gitex come September 25 looks assured.

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