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Sun 7 Mar 2004 04:00 AM

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E-gov drive delivers opportunities

Saudi Arabia’s e-government initiatives are presenting both global and regional IT companies with numerous business opportunities.

Saudi Arabia’s e-government initiatives are presenting both global and regional IT companies with numerous business opportunities as the Kingdom attempts to join the knowledge economy.

According to Selman Al Fares, group IT director of Al Faisaliah Group, rarely a week goes by without some sort of request for either proposals or tenders being issued by the Saudi government as its sources the technology it requires to fuel its e-government drive.

“In the government there is an increasing amount of talk surrounding e-government. We are seeing some of the RFPs come out and all of these represent opportunities that need to be crystallised during 2004. There is a lot of activity that is taking place and we also see activities from the government in terms of e-commerce and creating a PKI infrastructure and the rules and regulations to govern these practices,” he says.

“This will present an opportunity for us either from the infrastructure point of view or from the solution perspective. We have our internet service provider (ISP), Awalnet, and our IT companies, so hopefully between these two we will realise many good opportunities within the Kingdom’s IT sector,” Al Fares adds.

However, the business opportunities being presented by Saudi’s e-government drive stretch beyond providing the Kingdom’s public sector with hardware, software and services, as the country’s private sector companies also need the tools to take advantage of the e-services being delivered. For instance, while Al Fares says there is ample hardware capacity in many Saudi companies, they still require the software to play in the digital age.

“A recent study by the chamber of commerce was designed to show how ready we [Saudi] are for e-commerce and while there is a lot of hardware capacity we now need to see some sort of solutions arena where we automate businesses in a much more robust way so they can take full advantage of what is happening,” he says.

“Although there is still quite a bit we can do on hardware, the real opportunity is on the software side where we can enable companies to automate their processes,” Al Fares adds.

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