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Wed 29 Nov 2000 04:00 AM

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Horizons eyes Gulf and US growth

Mohamed Takriti, managing director, sees wider potential for Qatari company's content management solutions and turnkey software development services.

Web sites need content and content needs managing, something that Qatar-based Horizons believes provides it with a big window of opportunity.

The company has been around for six years, mainly developing turnkey Internet software solutions for large companies and Ministries in Qatar. Now, with the Internet taking off in the region, it's taking what it's done so far and is commercialising it in the form of two content management products.

It aims to promote those offerings across the Gulf beyond Qatar, hence a recent appearance at Gitex with Microsoft and the hiring of a public relations agency. "We think the value we have created in our products and services is demanded all over the region, particularly as our products are designed with Arabic in the core," says Mohamad Takriti, Horizons' chief executive officer.

Potentially more lucrative is a plan to position itself to North American companies as a competitively priced offshore software developer. To help it in this strategic goal, the company is mulling over establishing its core development competency in Jordan, where labour costs are competitive and skills are plentiful.

Horizons's flagship offering is Horizons Knowledge Server, a software package used to manage and format content on Web sites. It's being used by Al Jazeera to develop a site that will soon offer all the channel's TV content going back four years in the form of transcripts, audio and streaming video. The product also allows Webmasters to reformat content in a way that can be viewed on WAP devices and Pocket PCs.

Whilst Horizons Knowledge Server is complex, and is for Web sites with sophisticated needs and big budgets, the company's second offering is designed for smaller budgets. PublishArabia.com is an outsourced, subscription-based version of Horizons Knowledge Server.

For a couple of thousand dollars per month, Horizons will take on the responsibility of setting up, maintaining and hosting your content management system for you off-site. The individual content editor interacts with the system through a Web browser and an Internet connection.

Horizons has not so far taken on venture capital funding and declares itself debt free and self financing. Takriti says the company intends to finance growth by running a tight ship and reinvesting all profits in the company.

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