salim

IDG Connect, (UK) - The Global IT Series, Part 5: Middle East

Salim is small with an enormous head and giant glasses. One hand performs the universal thumbs up symbol the other holds the United Arab Emirates flag. This is the Emirati Cyber Security Advisor, mascot of The UAE Computer Emergency Response Team. Security is big news in the Middle East. And to emphasise its importance the Saudi Arabian, Emirati and Qatar government's have all set up security awareness teams within the last eighteen months.

The security software and appliance market is expected to grow at a faster rate than any other software area in the Middle East. As internet penetration expands and mobile technologies spread, the cyber treat to companies and individuals will only worsen. Identity theft is also getting to be a big problem, especially in the finance sector, where ATM fraud is mushrooming. The race is on. IT security is rapidly becoming a fundamental business enabler. In this one area, organisations have the ability to establish a real competitive advantage.

Regulations are springing up to maximise security control across all access points. Data management is becoming imperative. Breachable areas of the telecommunications market need to be secured as soon as possible. This is a side effect of an escalating mobile workforce; compounded by an increased use of smartphones and consequent rise in mobile internet traffic. A vast quantity of content is now being pushed out through the mobile network. This alone has the potential for real future strain but also unlocks real possibilities. In Saudi Arabia mobile broadband is already poised to become the most subscribed service for fast internet.

Next generation networks are starting to receive some real investment from small operators. In the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar and Egypt IPTV services are on the rise, although they currently only make up a tiny proportion of the TV market. This will change as these services are ready to expand into more marketable arenas like digital video recorders and video on demand. Today there are still strict limitations on the use of PC-based VoIP services such as Skype, but like all forms of modern communication this situation is primed for progress.

Technology is evolving, and now is a very exciting time for the Middle East. An April industry report revealed a mammoth increase in ICT spending, with investment in Saudi Arabia set to hit $32bn by 2012. Other studies show a similar picture. In 2009 emerging markets (Africa and Middle East) held a 6% share of global ICT expenditure. Over the next two years these figures are expected to swell to 17%. This will represent a huge projected growth (11.3%) compared to the relatively static European and North American markets (2.5%).

IT in the Middle East is growing. Expenditure is up and business is booming. The future holds some remarkable possibilities, but like all positive developments this brings its own problems. That is why Salim is here to help!

IDG Connect's series on the Middle East is set to continue throughout the Summer:

  • 6th July - IT Service Management UAE, Glenn Hughes, UAE
  • 20th July - Project Managers' Problems, Moutasem Zakkar, UAE

Based in the Middle East? What do you think the biggest challenges for your unique region will be over the next 18 months? Please comment below - or if you would like to submit a blog post simply email the editor.

Read Part 1, Africa
Read part 2, Asia
Read part 3, Australia
Read part 4, Europe

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