|Thoughts from GITEX 2002: Dubai the tech-town
|Every time I attend GITEX, I come away with a feeling that Dubai has established itself as the undisputed IT hub in the region, and that the fantastic success of this exhibition is a direct result of Dubai's success.
As usual, the show was huge and everyone who's anyone was there; including a very large contingent of Jordanians either visiting or working in Dubai.
It seemed like I was meeting old friends and colleagues everywhere I looked, and they all had the smile on their faces that said, "isn't this amazing." Quite amazing, I had to agree. Apart from the fact that every item of personal or corporate technology you could dream of was on show, the glamor with which it was all being exhibited blew you away; as did the amount of giveaways, gifts, competitions and promotions.
Some companies were throwing around so much marketing muscle, it just felt like a technology fanfare. Along the lines of the show, there was so much going on. A major IT summit the day before, attended by Arab political and IT leaders; an ongoing daily schedule of conferences; product launches; press conferences..... you name it. If it's an IT related event, it's happening this week at, or near, GITEX. It makes you wonder how anyone can compete with this in the short-term. Computer exhibitions across the region may attract as many visitors, but cannot have a whopping 1,500 exhibitor!
Even the other GITEX sub-shows in the region, such as GITEX Saudi Arabia and GITEX/Termium in Lebanon, look pale in comparison.
Naturally, our local show, METS, looks pathetic in comparison. But, then again, each show serves a different purpose. Ours is a consumer show, with less than 60 participants. GITEX is a trade show, which only allows registered trade guests to enter and which is like one big meeting of business people; not students!
Maybe I shouldn't be that harsh, but we all agree that our local computer exhibitions have some way to go before they can even look like a regional show, let alone compete with one.
At GITEX, there was a lot to be proud of as a Jordanian. For a start, the media coverage in the local press, and through the daily bulletins distributed during the show did justice to Jordan and its active IT community. As I have always said, we're doing a great PR job everywhere in the world. Also, the solutions and products on show at the Jordanian booth were impressive, although sometimes conflicting, which raises again the issue of a need for mergers and cooperation rather than mindless competition.
A number of Jordan-related announcements were made at GITEX, which include the Eskadenia Software deal to build a major Islamic portal and the Estarta agreement with Aramex to develop a global tracking system.
And, of course, there were the impressive Jordanian expatriates who held top positions in the region's biggest IT firms.
However, and like any traveler, what left the strongest impression on me was the way the city has grown year after year, since the first time I attended GITEX in 1994.
There's more to see and more to do in Dubai and it's all happening with a modern, hi-tech feel to it. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), as a whole, has what it takes to attract the top IT personnel in the world.
Beating that should prove to be very, very difficult. All I can say is: What a tech-town.