Early October brought the regional IT industry to the fore, as trade visitors, exhibitors and journalists flocked to the 2004 Gitex exhibition in Dubai. The five-day event saw 114,000 visitors, a 52 per cent rise from 2003.

The increased presence of regional firms was one of the key developments. The UAE’s burgeoning IT market was well represented. Raqmiyat, a local software developer and systems integrator, exhibited with the US’ Microsoft. ‘We showcased a number of products we have developed based on Microsoft technologies as we believe that the best way to increase our business in this competitive market is through alliances and innovation,’ said Raqmiyat chief operating officer Tapas Roy. The company is planning to double its turnover to $50 million within three years.

The firms representing Saudi Arabia were also an indication of the future IT market. Most of the companies specialised in market solutions, security services and the telecommunications sector. The exhibition also saw a small presence from the Palestinians. Eight companies attended, with each pointing to IT as a core area in growing the troubled area’s economy.

However, while regional companies upped their presence, the conference also welcomed some of the global players. Networking vendor Cisco Systemswas also keen to highlight the future of the regional IT market by concentrating on the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) market. The company unveiled a suite of new solutions, including integrated services routers which provide secure, wire-speed data, voice and video to SMEs.

Elsewhere, South African risk management consultancy PIC Solutionsis negotiating a role with UAE financial institutions and retailers to help launch a credit bureau by 2005.