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Exhibitors dismiss global credit fears

Leading IT companies confident after strong showing on opening day of 2008 tech fest.

Fears that the global credit crisis could put the brakes on the booming Middle East IT sector have been brushed aside by leading IT companies exhibiting at GITEX Technology Week. More than 3,300 companies from 83 countries are out in force at this year's show, with a 20% increase in participants from the UAE government sector.

While the credit crunch has impacted other markets around the globe, the region's IT sector remains on course to generate US$95 billion in revenues annually by 2011.

Exhibitors surveyed at GITEX remain defiant about their prospects for success.

"In regards to both the market and GITEX, our plans  remain unchanged," says Dan Smith, office marketing manager at Xerox's developing markets organisation.

"The Middle East boasts a booming economy and  provides major opportunities for expanding our business. Internationally, it remains a good place to do business."

The ongoing development of the SME market, coupled with the robust position of the UAE banking sector, has given IT companies operating in the Middle East reason to be optimistic. Smith also believes that an anticipated US$325m worth of inward investment from government projects over the next two years will play a major role in the market's development.

Many companies are looking to strike new partnerships or expand their portfolios at this year's GITEX, underscoring the importance of the region as a source of growth during a challenging time for the global industry.

Enterprise software vendor Sage says it is undeterred by talk of the global credit crisis.

"We have the biggest presence we've ever had at GITEX," says Marc Van der Ven, managing director of the company's Middle East division.

"We usually exhibit at GITEX with the plan of securing new deals with regional resellers and customers," he explains. "This year, we're also looking to recruit staff for our new regional offices in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain."

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