Marking an important milestone in Jordan's information technology (IT) development, Microsoft, a world leader in software products, announced the opening of a local office in Amman on Wednesday evening. Deputy Prime Minister Mohammad Halaiqa made use of the occasion to reiterate Jordan's ongoing support of IT under the patronage of King Abdullah.
“We are adopting IT as an economic motivator, and attracting such a big company means a lot to Jordan,” he told the Jordan Times. “Jordan has done its homework and we are serious about focusing on IT as one of our main economic sectors,” said Halaiqa. He also said this development marks the beginning to bigger and better things for Jordan's IT sector.
Microsoft official Bahram Mohazzebi noted that “governments have invested in IT to serve their nations, and Microsoft has been actively promoting technology” towards that end. “Jordan could become a regional IT powerhouse,” and for his part, Mohazzebi is “confident” this will happen.
A major reason for Microsoft's entry to Jordan is the recent reforms in intellectual property and copyright laws. Until as recently as last year, Jordan was on the US watch list of nations in gross violation of intellectual property and copyright laws. However, recent reforms and stiffening of Jordanian legislation to conform to international standards has encouraged Microsoft to conduct business here.
Mohazzebi explained that the “enforcement of copyright laws is essential for us to move into any market and safeguard our software.” Since the government has created an appropriate business climate, Microsoft now feels the time is right.
Halaiqa elaborated: “By staying committed to protecting intellectual property rights, encouraging knowledge transfer and fostering a thriving IT industry that is second to none, the government foresees its role... as an influential force in empowering its people with the skills, expertise and resources to excel in today's digital economy.”
With the arrival, Microsoft will begin to assist the government in developing the country's digital economy, and several e-government initiatives are also in the works. The company will also enter into an agreement to offer support services for customers of the Windows 2000 platform.
Mohazzebi pointed out that while the regional office is new, Microsoft has nevertheless operated in the region for the past nine years. Ongoing initiatives include up to 90 percent discounts on software for education and an agreement with Yarmouk University to be an authorized academic training institute. Students who benefit from this training gain certified degrees that are internationally recognized. Currently, negotiations are in place to extend this program to three other universities.
The office, slated to open in February 2001, is expected to stimulate the local IT industry and bring in a “few hundred” new employees to the region. Mohazzebi said Microsoft is already working with a number of local IT companies and they continue to look to forge partnerships with others.
“We see tremendous potential in Jordan both in terms of industry development and human resources,” said Mohazzebi. “Our commitment to Jordan is motivated by factors such as high literacy rates and keen entrepreneurial skills, all of which indicates an eagerness to grow and evolve,” he added.
Microsoft Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean has offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Lebanon and now in Jordan. — ( Jordan Times )
By Owen Clegg
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)