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Sat 18 May 2002 04:00 AM

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Microsoft Saudi Arabia teams up with key partners to create SME business portal

Microsoft Saudi Arabia, Al Alamiah Internet & Communications and New Horizons create SME business portal.

Microsoft’s Saudi Arabian operation has teamed up with Internet developer, Al Alamiah Internet & Communications and local training company New Horizons to launch a web portal targeting the Kingdom’s small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). The portal aims to aggregate content and services designed for the SME space around one business platform.

The initial phase of the joint venture will see all partners attempt to raise awareness to the portal’s services. Content and services will be expand over time as PC penetration increases and the price of Internet access declines.

Eventually, the partners hope the portal will evolve into a ‘commercial hub’ where SMEs products and services are traded over the Web.

"We have teamed up with the best providers in the business to provide a service that helps these emerging businesses grow to their full potential,” says Bilal Sununu, country manager Microsoft Saudi Arabia.

Commenting on the new venture, Dr. Badr Al-Badr, CEO of Alamiah.net said, “Our strategic partnership with Microsoft in this campaign will give the opportunity for every business, through the creation of a new site and e-mail services, to enhance their way of doing business, increase productivity, and speed up communication with the vast majority of consumers. The SME Portal, on the other hand, is a one-stop-shop to share the benefits provided online for all businesses.”

Within a couple of months, all members of the site will be granted a web site, e-mail accounts, and a sector directory where companies can search for suppliers or customers.

Using a pre-programmed wizard application, the design of the web site and the creation of the e-mail addresses can be done by the members themselves in a few steps, enabling them to learn the technology as well as use it.

The methodology is very simple. We create the platform with our partners, provide the tools, the know-how, and marketing support, and the portal will do the rest,” says Sununu.

To further encourage SMEs to go online Microsoft Arabia, Al Alamiah and New Horizon will be offering free ‘Get Online’ packages (web site design, hosting services for one year, and training) to any small company purchasing Microsoft genuine products (of minimum SR 5000) before the end of June 2002. This offer will be only available through qualified and specifically trained ‘Licensing Consultants.’

“Microsoft sees the SME sector as one of the primary drivers of the region's economy. However, the rate of technology adoption in this highly crucial sector is relatively low. Making a business decision to invest in the right IT infrastructure will enable small and medium businesses in the region to enhance employee productivity, maintain a competitive edge and spearhead business growth,” explains Sununu.

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