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Magic Kingdom

by Stuart Wilson, Tuesday 22 April 2008

Saudi Arabia’s IT community is gathering in Riyadh this week for Gitex Saudi Arabia 2008. The Kingdom’s indigenous IT companies will line up alongside a smattering of international vendors looking to boost their profile and recognition within this major Middle East market. If you’ve been too busy to schedule a trip to Riyadh, here’s Channel EMEA’s lowdown on what you would have seen at this year’s show.

Smart device vendor HTC headed to Saudi Arabia this week to showcase its latest high-end products at Gitex. HTC is showcasing its latest products at the event, including its compact Touch Cruise product line.

Kevin Chen, general manager at HTC Middle East, Africa and CIS, said: “KSA is presently one of our most important markets for smart phones and personal digital assistants because of its excellent growth potential. Gitex Saudi Arabia 2008 provides the perfect platform for us to increase awareness about the technological superiority of our products, which have already established a strong presence in the Saudi market.”

“Our aggressive marketing initiatives in Saudi have also been fuelled by the country’s rapidly increasing population, powerful economy and dramatic increase in adoption of internet and other IT-enabled technologies; which all represent immense growth opportunities for HTC. Moreover, we will back up our quality products with our excellent after-sales support; a service for which we are already building up a solid reputation for in this region,” added Chen.

Printing powerhouse Brother is also making its presence felt in Riyadh this week. The company has announced its aims to achieve 20% sales growth in Saudi Arabia in 2008. Brother is participating alongside Al Maktaba Stores, a distribution partner in Saudi Arabia. Brother reckons that this year’s event is the perfect opportunity to strengthen its channel in the Kingdom even further

“The IT boom in the Kingdom has also attracted more high profile participants at the exhibition, which is an important opportunity that we are eagerly looking forward to as part of our strategy to achieve our goal for this market. With this year’s show promising to be bigger than all previous editions, our aim is to strengthen our distribution chain in the KSA market to further the reach of our products,” said Shinji Tada, Managing Director, Brother Gulf.

Zai showcases PC power

Local PC assembler Zai is also flying the Saudi flag at Gitex this week, teaming up with components powerhouse Nvidia to showcase PC systems optimised for gaming performance. Zai is exhibiting a broad range of desktop PCs based on Nvidia’s new series of powerful graphics processing units (GPUs).

Ashraf Shendy, business development manager at ICC Group, the holding company of Zai, said: “From the inception, Zai Technologies have been committed to introducing products that provide our customers excellent performance and scalability, and at the same time are cost efficient. Our partnership with NVIDIA, a world leader in visual computing technology, is in line with this mission.”

Daniel Saison, sales director Middle East, India and Africa at Nvidia, added: “KSA is an extremely important market for us because of the huge growth potential. The market is maturing nicely with more and more consumers understanding the importance of the GPU in their computers. Optimising the computer with the right mix of GPU and CPU will offer the best performance to our customers.”

Hardware powerhouse Acer is chasing customer riyals with some sparkling notebook offers at Gitex Shopper – the retail component of the exhibition. Visitors will be able to examine the new Acer Aspire 8920 and Aspire 6920 - two new notebook families built on a unique 18.4” and 16” footprint, equipped with Blu-Ray Disc drives, high definition LCD screens and native 16:9 resolution.

“Gitex Shopper is all about the visitors, and making innovative products available at great prices,” said Shashank Sharma, country manager Saudi Arabia at Acer. “Our entire range of available products are price driven. Our intention is to give visitors a reason to celebrate, everyone wins at Gitex Shopper.”

OnLine hunts VADs

Networking is also making its presence felt at Gitex Saudi Arabia with OnLine Distribution showcasing its industry-focused enterprise mobility solutions alongside vendor partner Motorola.

“Gitex Saudi is the Kingdom’s premier ICT event and an ideal platform to demonstrate OnLine Distribution’s vendor solutions to end users and to meet channel and VAD resellers in the Saudi market. As a distributor in Saudi, we are not only looking at just providing product support but we are also offering training certification and marketing initiatives to the channel who are willing to engage with us,” explained Venu Menon, Sales & Marketing Director, OnLine Distribution.

OnLine and Motorola - alongside reseller partner Track-IT and Hand Held Professional (HHP) - are displaying solutions targeting specific industries including the supply chain, logistics, retail, healthcare and government sectors.

Industry-focused printing solutions vendor Zebra has also trotted to Riyadh for Gitex 2008. Zebra claims that it is a pioneer in the development of RFID solutions for both labels and cards and a wide range of products will be on display at this week’s show.

The region’s booming $5 billion information technology market and its excess liquidity is a key focus area for Zebra, whose technology and products are well entrenched in businesses throughout the Middle East, with large-scale technical solutions for high profile customers. Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of the growing regional IT market, with almost 50% of regional sales, according to Zebra.

Components giant AMD is also appearing at the show on the stand of distribution partner Al Masa ITD. Desktop PCs designed for both gaming enthusiasts who demand a rich computing experience and casual gamers who seek exceptional performance at mainstream price points will be on display. Working with Al Masa ITD, the advanced gaming systems will be based on AMD Phenom quad-core and triple-core processors.

“Through our regional distribution partner, Al Masa, we want to educate customers about AMD’s compelling line of solutions that are designed to empower a broad range of customers to experience the performance and multi-tasking capability of true multi-core technology,” said Gautam Srivastava, VP sales and marketing and managing director for AMD Middle East, Africa and Pakistan.

Some 600 IT companies from 13 countries are showcasing their products and solution at Gitex Saudi Arabia 2008, which is taking place at the Riyadh Exhibition Centre.

Update One

Samsung Electronics also made its way to Gitex Saudi 2008 armed with its latest consumer electronics (CE) and digital technology products.

Omar Siddiqi, AV marketing manager at Samsung’s Jeddah Office, said: “Samsung is proud to showcase products which will lead the digital lifestyle revolution and change the way technology is used in all areas of modern life and business in the Kingdom.”

“Our innovative products reinforce Samsung’s technology and design leadership in the CE industry. Samsung will continue to launch innovative products bringing to consumers not only new lifestyles but also the best technology,” he added.

The new ranges of products are designed to inspire experiences for a new home and mobile life, according to Samsung. Products showcased in the new home life range included a 70” LED LCD TV, the Duo Player, the first Blue Ray disc home theatre system and mobile digital products spanning digital still cameras, MP3 players and camcorders.

Update Two

HP came up with some special offers and promotions from its PSG division for Gitex Saudi Arabia 2008. The ‘scratch and win’ promotion guaranteed that everyone buying a HP desktop or notebook would win prizes including picnic kits, external hard drives and five family holidays to a beach resort in Jeddah.

Khaled Hejazi, PSG country manager for Saudi Arabia at HP, commented: “HP is highly committed to the Saudi market which is highlighted in our presence again at Gitex Saudi Arabia.”

The HP stand at Gitex Shopper hosted a number of HP partners included Al Hasoob, Al Shadady, Computer Age, ICC, PC Time and Universal Systems.

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