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Zamil goes to India to beat skills shortage

Zamil IT sets up development centre in India to beat ME skills shortage

KSA-based Zamil IT has established an offshore development centre (ODC) in India, in order to circumvent the chronic skills shortage in the Middle East.

"We feel Indians are not keen to come to the Middle East, mainly because of currency fluctuations, and the high demand on their skills. Also, the challenge in visa processing and hiring in Saudi Arabia is considerable - sometimes it takes up to five or six months, if a visa is even available," said Zaki Sabbagh, CIO of Zamil Industrial Development Corporation (ZIIC), Zamil IT's parent company.

"Skills availability in India is higher, at a time when the demand is high and the supply is low, when it comes to highly skilled people," he added.

ZIIC's India move follows on from a similar announcement from Emirates Airline's IT division, which partnered with a local firm to set up a development centre in India.

Zamil IT started work on the ODC in January this year, coinciding with the establishment of Zamil Steel in India, to save costs. ZIIC has invested around SAR2 million ($533,000) in the ODC so far, which Sabbagh describes as a "very minimal" investment.

"This investment covers the set up, the fit out, the initial hiring costs, and the test environment, as the production environment is in Saudi Arabia. It took us a long time to do the legal part, which is very complex in India; we've also been busy with the fit-out," Sabbagh said.

Zamil IT has also completed ISO 20000 certification, only the third firm in the region to do it, behind Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank, and Doha Bank in Qatar.

Over the last few years ZIIC has begun the process of turning Zamil IT into a profit centre, offering its services as an outsourcer and integrator. As part of this drive, Zamil IT partnered with SAAS provider Navigis last year, to become a reseller.

Zamil IT currently has 33 customers around the region, three of which are profit centre customers. The firm is set to announce a number of customer wins very shortly according to Sabbagh.

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