Middle East InfoTech Show Gets Bigger and Better
The biggest annual information technology (IT) event in the Middle East celebrates its 20th birthday on Saturday, claiming to bigger and better than ever.
Organizers of the four-day show at the Dubai World Trade Center are predicting a "massive increase" in the record 72,000 trade and 80,000 retail visitors last year.
The number of exhibitors has tripled in the last eight years and 500 will display this year's latest innovations, from 3D technology to voice-over IP (Internet Protocol) or calls using Internet technology.
"There's no question that as the e-era takes hold in the region, information technology demands from both the public and private sector will continue to skyrocket," said trade center general manager Wahid Attalla.
Hotmail e-mail website founder Sabeer Bhatia, a VIP guest at the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX), also sees enormous potential.
"In the next four or five years there will be a billion PCs in the world and right now only about 150 to 190 million of them are connected to the Internet," he said.
"We still have an 80 percent market potential for them and the number of computer literate people is only growing," said Bhatia, who sold the free e-mail service to Microsoft two years ago.
Such has been the success of GITEX that this year the retail section known as Computer Shopper has been separated from the main event and housed in 12,000 square meters (130,000 sq. ft) at the Airport Expo halls.
It opened on Saturday and is to run for eight days with 150 companies looking to boost considerably last year's takings of 18 million dollars.
A e-village has been set up to enable visitors to buy online from the kiosk of companies taking part.
The main trade section has taken over all the trade center sprawling over 18,500 square meters (200,000 sq. ft), four times the area of the whole exhibition in 1992.
Coinciding with GITEX will be the opening Saturday night of the first stage of what the Gulf emirate calls the world's first free trade zone for e-business, "Dubai Internet City".
Dubai launched the project a year ago with the first phase estimated to cost 200 million dollars.
The emirate is also pushing through what it says is a revolutionary e-government scheme – ABU DHABI (AFP)
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