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ACS set to tout enterprise apps

Saudi Arabian software firm gets ready to wow Gitex KSA crowds with its experience and wide range of solutions.

Saudi Arabian software firm gets ready to wow Gitex KSA crowds with its experience and wide range of solutions

Arabic Computer Systems (ACS) has provided cutting-edge IT solutions to the Kingdom for more than two decades, and this year it hopes to drive its business forward once again by attending Gitex.

“Our aim has always been to be our clients’ trusted information and communication technology partner,” says Engineer Mohammed Rashid Al-Ballaa, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of directors at ACS.

“We have been fortunate to secure some of the Middle East’s most prestigious clients in sectors such as government, banking, oil and gas, utilities and small-to-medium sized enterprises,” he adds.

ACS is part of the National Technology Group (NTG), which has evolved over the years into an international organisation. The company is a heavyweight in Saudi Arabia’s IT sector and it is ranked 49th out of the top 100 Saudi Arabian companies. It generated revenues of more than US$250 million in 2004 and employs more than 500 people.

NTG’s customers include Saudi Aramco, Sabic, Saudi Telecommunications Company, King Abdul Aziz University, the Supreme Commission For Tourism, and a number of the Kingdom’s largest banks.

Eng Al-Ballaa proudly points to testimonials from a number of high-profile companies such as the Arabian Petrochemical Company and Al Rajhi Banking and Investment Corporation, among others.

In previous years NTG and ACS have used Gitex Saudi Arabia to build a support network for multinational vendors working in the Middle East. ACS’s group general manager, Ibrahim Al-Zeer, says he thinks the trade show is a key part of building relationships with both customers and vendors.

“It is a vital event because it brings together vendors, suppliers and customers in one place. A great deal of information is shared and it is a great opportunity for customers to bring their various suppliers together,” he says.

Although NTG and ACS have already tasted great success in the Saudi Arabian IT market, there are signs that there is plenty more to come. The reason for this is the sheer amount of IT investment currently being carried out in the Kingdom. For example, Saudi Arabia accounts for 80% of the Gulf’s IT spending and the IT sector has a projected annual growth rate of more than 20% through to 2008.

What is most interesting, though, is the extent to which the KSA IT sector is still largely undeveloped, even compared to other Middle Eastern countries. According to a 2005 Business Monitor International (BMI) report, IT spending accounts for only 1.6% of the Kingdom’s GDP, compared to 2% for tiny Bahrain, and 3.3% for the US.

Clearly KSA’s information technology sector has huge potential for growth, especially with oil prices continuing to ride high, and the government keen to make the most of the resulting surpluses.

A good example is the education sector. In the budget for 2006, the Saudi Arabian government has allocated US$23.3 billion to education, plenty of which will be spent on IT.

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