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Columbus finally lands in Qatar

Columbus IT, the Microsoft Dynamics-focused reseller, has finalised a move into Qatar two years after it first revealed plans to enter the market

Columbus IT, the Microsoft Dynamics-focused reseller, has finalised a move into Qatar two years after it first revealed plans to enter the market.

The enterprise reseller has signed a joint venture with the Ali Bin Ali Group — one of the largest distribution and retail outfits in Qatar — which it hopes will give it a firm base to grow its business in the country.

Manjeet Singh, managing director of Columbus IT, told Channel Middle East back in July 2007 that it was in the process of finalising a JV that would see it establish a strong presence in Qatar. He says that the delay was a side effect of success it has had in markets such as the UAE and Saudi and the fact Qatar slipped down the integrator’s list of priorities over the past couple of years. He insists that in the interim Columbus IT has been carrying out business in Qatar’s enterprise and SMB market, but from Dubai.

“It took us time and priorities changed, but Qatar was always on the roadmap, so it was going to happen sooner or later,” said Singh. “We were seeing good growth here in the UAE and also we were doing something in Saudi Arabia so Qatar was slightly de-prioritised at that point in time. Then we started slowly talking to Ali Bin Ali Group and finally we reached an agreement and decided to do a JV.”

Columbus is effusive that, although the financial crisis has changed the region’s IT business landscape, the Qatari market has not significantly changed since it started making deliberations about entry into the country two years ago. Singh insists that there is still a gap in the market that Columbus IT is able to fill.

“We are seeing a lot of opportunities in Qatar and we believe it is going to continue grow at a fast pace despite all the economic conditions globally — at least Qatar is relatively insulated,” said Singh. “As far as Microsoft Dynamics is concerned we believe that there is a huge gap [in Qatar], there were people that were doing Great Plains, but there were very few partners who were doing AX and AV. AX is the solution that is meant for the enterprise space, so we saw a huge opportunity. No-one is focused on AX and that is what we are all about.”

From Columbus’ perspective, Ali Bin Ali were a logical company to enter into a JV with, as the Group has an established Oracle business, so according to Singh, it is a firm that understands the enterprise software market in Qatar. In addition to this, Singh says the partner brings local market knowledge, a customer network and capital to the deal.

Columbus IT has appointed a country manager for Qatar that will oversee the inception of the firm into the Qatar market and who is due to take up the role in mid-May.

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