By Rob Corder
Saudi Arabia's deputy minister for commerce, Fawaz Al-Alami, has called for high level government support to establish an IT park in Jeddah.
Jeddah has been earmarked as the prime location for setting up an information technology park for Saudi Arabia.Fawaz Al-Alami, deputy minister of commerce, told Arab News daily on the fringes of Jeddah Economic Forum, that a high level committee should be created to oversee the development of the park and IT in Saudi Arabia in general. That commitee, he suggested, should be headed by the commerce minister and should include the finance minister, the minister of post, telegraphs and telephones, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency and KACST.The wider development of information technology in Saudi Arabia should be underpinned by a significant increase in IT education, Al-Alami said in his open address to the forum. "The road ahead for the Kingdom lies in defining the vision in our mission: a lab for the future in every school and a knowledge-based industry aside, of course, from an IT park," he added.If these developments are added to measures like the creation of IT think-tanks and e-government initiatives, Al-Alami believes Saudi Arabia could transform itself from an IT importer to an IT exporter.In 1999, he stated that of Saudi Arabia's spending of $2.6 billion on IT equipment, only $0.6 billion was spent on locally produced equipment.