Transforming Jordan into Singapore of the Middle East
King Abdullah II of Jordan is a keen believer in his country’s high-tech future. Since assuming power in February of 1999, the king labors to make Jordan into the Singapore of the Middle East. Inspired by the King’s vision, several recent government initiatives work to create as many as 30,000 new high-skilled jobs by the year 2004, and boost IT exports — in particular software — to $550 million, from the 1999 $15 million figure.
The Jordanian-Israeli peace accord resulted a promising growth in joint high-tech ventures, and the Jordanian government has taken further steps to facilitate investment in IT firms by offering incentives in the form of customs duty and tax exemptions, similar to those enjoyed by the industrial and tourism sectors.
A handful of local companies such as ProgressSoft, SEDCO, IdealSoft, and ComSoft have already proven successful in marketing their products both regionally and internationally. Many industry experts contend that Jordan's software market is in fact a promising one, although weak on the organizational and marketing side.
As part of its e-government initiative, the Jordanian government is soon expected to legalize its pirated software and inter-connect all government departments using a sophisticated electronic system. This initiative is expected to increase both the efficiency and transparency of the kingdom's government.
The state is also beginning to implement a particularly aggressive policy for the protection of intellectual property rights. Law enforcement agencies are instructed to apply patent laws in order to provide a better environment for the growth of the kingdom's IT industry.
In an effort to transform Jordan into a regional research and technology hub, the Jordanian government recently signed an agreement with computer giant Microsoft, covering all of its software requirements.
"Once the government will have committed itself to legalize its software, Microsoft will step in, to help utilize the agreement properly," conveyed Nasser Khalifeh, Microsoft's representative in Jordan.
"In the past two months, the way we see and approach Jordan has changed a lot," commented Emre Berkin, Microsoft's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. "I believe Jordan is really moving on the right track." — ( Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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