The ICT (information and communication technology) is all set for a very positive growth, both in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region. "We see a very positive growth, thanks to new technologies," Audai Altaie, regional head of enterprise business, Enterprise Business Group, MENA HQ of Samsung Electronics, told Khalil Hanware of Arab News in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of Samsung's recent MENA Forum 2013 in Dubai.
Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest growing markets in the region. "They are hungry for the latest technologies. Saudi Arabia is a very rich country and they are investing in their infrastructure, education sector, and in modernizing their streets and roads, and airports. They are acquiring the latest technologies and are building on them more and more," Altaie said.
The MENA region is a growing market for IT and the latest technologies. "The Internet penetration has also increased tremendously in the region. That is why we see huge growth in the ICT sector in the region," Altaie said.
Following are the excerpts from the interview:
What is your perception of the ICT sector in Saudi Arabia and the MENA region?
We see a very positive growth. Whether in Saudi Arabia or in the MENA region, it is growing. If you look at the past few years, the growth is very steady and positive. We believe it will continue growing with the new technology that Samsung is offering. Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest growing markets in the region. They are hungry for the latest technologies. Saudi Arabia is a very rich country and they are investing in the infrastructure of the country. They are investing in their education sector, they are investing in government, they are investing in modernizing their streets and roads, and airports. They are acquiring the latest technologies and are building on it more and more. The MENA region is a growing market for ICT and the latest technology. The Internet penetration has also increased tremendously in the region. That is why we see huge growth in the ICT sector in the region.
How are new social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus contributing to the development of communication technology in the Gulf and worldwide?
With the Internet, the center of our modern lifestyle, we see the Middle East's huge population is using social media every day. It is growing and what is happening is the news going across through social network services is one of the ways of communication with each other. The numbers are growing dramatically in the past few years. Which is great for us because Samsung is the leader in providing the tools for your Internet access, whether it is Tablet or Notebook or mobile. They are all connected to the Internet. Even printers are connected to the Internet now. Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Google are very effective. That is why we are integrating them in our latest devices. This trend is happening in the market so we make it very easy for customers to use within our devises.
How can SMEs benefit from new trends in ICT? What are your suggestions?
As you know, new trends are being witnessed around the world, and coming here in the MENA region is new consumerization of the companies. What we mean is putting consumer products inside the SMEs such as new phrases like 'Bring your own device' and 'We will connect to you.' Also, we believe soon we are going to say 'Bring your Notebook and we will connect to you.' This is making the companies not to get stuck to one vendor or one contract but actually to be open to every one. I believe this will help a lot of companies in the region and it is not going to be monopolized.
What obstacles, if any, do you see for the growth of business innovation and private enterprises in the region?
Actually I see a very positive growth. I don't see any obstacles that I think of. There were obstacles when the economy collapsed around 2009 but now you see the business is growing. Everything is positive and the nice thing is that we are bringing a lot of new innovations, a lot of new technologies for the region that will help and develop their business and even boost their performance.
What is your advice for youngsters in Saudi Arabia who want to pursue a career in ICT? What are the success tips?
First and foremost is education. Because education is their tool to face the world. Second, look at the new and emerging trends as there are lots of new trends unfolding. They have to look at the new trends and learn from them, and see what are the benefits of these trends. Third, talk to the people who have been very successful in the region and learn from them and ask questions. Be proactive and not reactive and just wait. If you want to succeed in your life you have to work really hard and learn, learn, learn.... The more you learn, the higher is your education, the more you know how to face the world and you know how to accept the technology and improve on it and build on it.
There are some concerns over the threats posed by hackers to regional industries and businesses. How can this issue be tackled and what are the possible safeguards?
Basically with the hackers there are two sections - the hackers and the security systems. My recommendation is check all your systems and prevent any holes you have in your system with the latest technology that can prevent hacking wherever the system exists. And remove all vulnerability and upgrade your system with the latest in software.