Saudi Arabia has put in place diverse initiatives that will see the Kingdom emerging as one of the biggest e-learning markets in the region, pushing its value from the current US$ 30 million to US$ 125 million by 2008. A detailed study, conducted by Dubai-based Madar Research, on the Saudi education and e-learning scenario forecasts that the Saudi e-learning market will expand at a compound average growth rate of 33 per cent over five years. This growth will be boosted by government-led initiatives and education projects, some of which are already in various stages of implementation.
Al-Falak, the leading IT and Communications solutions provider in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region, is one of the companies highly upbeat about the Saudi e-learning market and expects to play a major role in supporting several educational initiatives.
"The Saudi IT market as a whole is growing rapidly, as the kingdom prepares to increase IT penetration among its 24-millon strong population spread across a vast area," said Ahmed Ali Ashadawi, President and CEO, Al-Falak. "Schools and universities are the ideal places to start the work of grooming Saudis for a challenging new future. The e-learning initiatives are a serious manifestation of the intention of the Saudi authorities to make the country e-literate."
According to the Madar study, several public and private schools in Saudi Arabia have adopted e-learning programmes using e-learning tools, including wireless infrastructure. Some schools are already experimenting with e-classrooms where each student has a desktop and the teachers use laptops.
Universities and colleges in Saudi Arabia have reached impressive levels of e-learning. King Saud University in Riyadh was among the first to introduce e-learning into its curriculum, using the WebCT learning management solution. The King Abdulaziz University was the first to deploy e-learning to benefit its distance education students as well as those attending classes. The university is also home to the largest electronic library in the kingdom with 16,000 e-books. King Khalid University's e-learning pilot project is expected to go on stream in the 2005-2006 academic year. The Arab Open University offers 12 e-learning based courses using the FirstPlace e-learning solution of the UK Open University.
The e-Learning market is divided into 3 major sectors - the technology providers, the content providers and the service providers. Al-Falak is the market leader in Saudi Arabia in the e-Learning technology segment and has contributed significantly to many of these projects with cutting-edge IT solutions, expert consultancy and support at both pre- and post-operations stage. "As the multiple e-learning drives open up new possibilities for Saudi students, Al-Falak is gearing to meet the growing demand for improved IT solutions for educational institutions," said Ashadawi. "We have built strong business partnerships with some of the world's leading solution and software providers, hardware and consumable manufacturers, business consultancy houses and implementation specialists. We have dedicated professionals with extensive experience in education software - all of which will allow us to capture an increased share of the e-learning market in Saudi Arabia."