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Mon 15 Mar 2010 04:00 AM

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Networkers ready for Gulf

As Cisco prepares for its largest event yet in the Gulf, Cisco Networkers 2010, NME spoke to Tarek Ghoul, director and general manager of Cisco Gulf region, about what attendees can expect from the Bahrain event.

Networkers ready for Gulf

As Cisco prepares for its largest event yet in the Gulf, Cisco Networkers 2010, NME spoke to Tarek Ghoul, director and general manager of Cisco Gulf region, about what attendees can expect from the Bahrain event.What is the aim of the Cisco Networkers event?

Networkers is a Cisco event, but really it is an industry event around networking communication technology in general. It gets attended by around 17,000 networking communications professionals a year worldwide. We run ten of these events across the world in key cities.

It is a very high level educational event, it is a paid event, people actually pay money to be there, and it is more like a four day MBA in networking communication. The level of interaction and expertise that we bring to both events, with our clients and partners, is great, we look at the latest solutions, what are the market trends, and we go into detail, it goes to specific issues and specific technology, clients, places and what have you.

We have been focused around the Gulf region for a while now, for the past five years we have put significant investment into the region, and we have been looking at a bringing a flagship Cisco event, of the magnitude of Networkers, to the Middle East, to really cement our commitment to the region and show that we are serious about the region. That is why we decided to bring our flagship event to Bahrain.

Why Bahrain specifically?

Bahrain, for Cisco, is really a model of how a company and a country can partner on a vision. We have had a long standing relationship with the government of Bahrain, and a close understanding of what they are trying to achieve at a strategy and vision level.

From a business environment perspective, over the past few years, they have developed the telecom regulatory environment to allow a lot of advanced communication services, to have a business-friendly environment, and they are acting as a wonderful host for us for this for event. We feel fortunate for the warmth that we are receiving from the Bahrain government, on making sure that the event is successful and well managed. It is no longer only our event, it is a joint event from that perspective.

What has been the response to the event so far?

The event so far has gathered great interest, and the registration efforts are ongoing.

We were pleased to see the extent of interest in the event, and that people were happy to travel to the Middle East to come to the event. We are running it at Bahrain International Circuit, and the Bahrain government is helping us when it comes to special rates for hotels, air fares, facilitation of entry into the country, sponsorship of entry, special booths at the airport to welcome Networkers attendees, everything to make sure that the visitors get seamless entry into the country, and have a good experience, at a reasonable cost.

We have seen a response, all the way from Russia, all the way down to South Africa, and even from central Europe, we have seen interest from people to come to Bahrain, so we are very pleased to have these services arranged around the event. We are really pleased at the diversity of the attendees, and I think it will be a truly cosmopolitan event. What can attendees expect from the event?

Networkers is not only about one event, networkers is really five parallel events, running at the same time. There is the general event, which is pretty technical; an IT Insight Conference; a dedicated press and analyst event; an Innovation Awards and there is an executive leadership symposium, which talks about the various challenges that the Middle East region is facing from a thought leadership perspective, and how ICT can help to bridge some of the gaps, or help advance reform initiatives that the Gulf states are undertaking.

The event is held under the banner of ‘Knowledge is Power’, from a messaging perspective, this is a vertical message from us, from the technical layer, all the way to the thought leadership, and we need to make sure that we have right messaging, proof points and thought leadership to support that message all the way across that stack. So it is going to be a pretty intensive, and interesting event.

Will Networkers become a regular event in the Middle East?

I surely hope so. We need to look at the feedback first, look at the uptake and whether we met expectations. Usually we announce our intentions at the end of each Networkers event, of when and where the next one is going to take place.

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