Lebanon seeks to increase software exports by 50 percent by 2003
Lebanese Information Technology (IT) companies have formulated significant expansion plans with particular focus on the lucrative Saudi Arabian market in order to meet their stated goal of increasing software exports from Lebanon by 50 percent by 2003.
The announcement was made at a press conference held Monday, April 22, 2002, by a group of Lebanese information technology and communication companies, exhibiting under the umbrella of the Professional Computer Association (PCA) of Lebanon, at Gitex Saudi Arabia.
Currently, the $150 million-worth Lebanese software industry and its services exports software to the tune of $35 million to the United States, Europe and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. The bulk of these exports are targeted at the European markets, while 30 percent is distributed within the GCC states. The Saudi Arabian market alone commands 50 percent of the Lebanese IT exports to the Gulf, totaling about $ 5.25 million.
“We have many ambitious plans to develop our software exports to the Arabian Gulf region. After many years of continuous efforts by our association which represents the IT private sector in Lebanon, the Lebanese Government, through the Investment and Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL), started to cooperate with us to stimulate our efforts in exporting software from Lebanon, on one hand, and to attract local and international investments to further develop the Lebanese software industry on the other,” said Jalal Fawaz, PCA chairman.
“Lebanon has become one of the most important strongholds in the region for the fast growing software industry. Its multi-lingual professionals with the ability to produce world class software in Arabic, English and French have given it a distinct competitive edge over its competitors in the region,” said Fawaz.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia represents more than 40 percent of the IT market in the Middle East, with annual growth rates exceeding 20 percent in key sectors such as communications, Internet applications, point of sale systems and mobile computing, making it the biggest market in the Gulf,” he added.
IDAL Chairman and General Manager Samih Barbir said: “We will start issuing work permits for companies in the near future in order to provide local and international investors with a one-stop-shop service center for all kinds of legal documents. We also provide tax exemption facilities, work visas and land registration and all required documents to allow companies start in the shortest possible period.”
A study undertaken by the International Data Corporation (IDC) reveals that IT spending in the Middle East region will be more then $4.6 billion in the year 2002, with a significant part of this attributed to the expanding market in Saudi Arabia.
“With the Internet penetration in Saudi Arabia showing a considerable increase, most organizations have begun to automate their business processes via the web. Hence there is a corresponding increase in the demand for multi-lingual and Arabic software,” said Michel Nseir, PCA board member.
“With over 2500 software developers resident in Lebanon and about 4,000 more operating from overseas, the Lebanese software industry is well on its way to becoming the premium software destination in the Arab world,” he added. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)