By Rob Corder
Dr. Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel Corporation, was in the Middle East this week, brushing off fears of a war in Iraq, as well as anti-Americanism in the Arab world.
Dr. Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel Corporation, has brushed off fears of a war in Iraq, and escalating anti-Americanism in the Arab world.His comments came during a flying visit to the UAE and Jordan, where he met with Intel partners, customers and government officials.In an exclusive interview with ITP.net, Barrett suggested that while Middle East business will be negatively affected by unrest or war, other markets around the world would compensate.“I can’t imagine war being particularly good for any infrastructure-type business. About one-third of our turnover comes from enterprise businesses, about one-third comes from small and medium-sized businesses, and about one-third comes from consumers. I would expect all three of those categories will become more conservative in their purchasing,” he said.“However, we tend to diversify our resources [around the world] in order to guard against political or natural disasters,” he added.Anti-Americanism in the Middle East is overblown by the media, he suggested. “I typically find that there is not always a great correlation between what I read in the press and what I find on the ground. I don’t feel anti-Americanism on the ground,” he added.Barrett usually visits around 30 countries per year in order to gauge the economic vibrancy of different markets. His message to governments in these countries is always the same: economic prosperity will come on the back of investment in education and a hi-tech infrastructure.When asked how that advice should be applied in countries such as Saudi Arabia, where over 30% of Saudi nationals are unemployed, Barrett was frank. “They must ensure that all their citizens get a good education; they should ensure that the infrastructure is in place to promote the economic growth of that country; and the government should role-model the behaviour that they want to see in the rest of the population. If you are tying to promote a knowledge-based economy and the use of the Internet, then the government should be doing these things,” he explained.If governments in the Arab world were hoping for an announcement about increased investment in the region in the form of a manufacturing facility, they will be disappointed. “The fact that there is no manufacturing here does not mean that the Middle East has not been successful in the hi-tech world. The fact is that Dubai and the United Arab Emirates has something going against it. You have a very high per-capita income here. You will be competing with countries like China to put manufacturing plants in place, and wage rates are much lower there,” he said.On the global economic situation, Barrett was unable to comment on Intel’s future growth prospects because a quarterly result statement is imminent. He did say, however, that he believed we have reached “the low point of the deepest recession that has hit the hi-tech industry in its history.” For a full transcript of ITP.net’s interview with Craig Barrett, pick up a copy of the Gitex Times Daily newspaper. Additional reporting of the interview will be found in the November issues of Computer Reseller News, Arabian Computer News, Arabian Business and Windows Magazine.