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Saudi Arabia expected to increase IT sector funding by 12 percent - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Samsung Galaxy Mega, left, Samsung Galaxy S4, center, and Apple iPhone 5. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The Samsung Galaxy Mega, left, Samsung Galaxy S4, center, and Apple iPhone 5. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat—Information technology experts at the Jeddah Conference of Information Technology Chief Executives have said they expect Saudi Arabia to move onto the third platform of information technology, which relies on mobile technology, cloud computing and social networks.

The conference revealed that expenditure on the IT sector alone in Saudi Arabia grew last year by 11 percent, which is equivalent to around USD 13.7 billion. Spending on programming and information technology services is up 34 percent. Spending on the communications services sector is USD 29 billion.

According to Jyoti Lalchandani, the regional manager of International Data Corporation (IDC) in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, infrastructure projects will lead to a 12 percent growth in the Saudi market next year.

The IDC’s director of technical research in Saudi Arabia, Abdelaziz Al-Hulayil, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Kingdom was in its early stages of the move to the third platform, but that investment in its implementation would cause great transformation in the communication and IT infrastructure in Saudi Arabia by 2020, when 90 percent of Saudi investments in the sector are expected to be concentrated on third platform technology and services.

Specialist companies in communications and IT in technologically in advanced countries like the US and in Europe spend about 25 percent of their budgets on third platform technology services. Experts in communication and IT predict a growth in third platform services and a decline in conventional services, which are expected to grow less than 1 percent in the next three years.

Hulayil said Smart Cities will contribute to the development of government electronic services by depending on smart use of energy, transport, and public services, including sanitation services. He said a number of Saudi municipalities and the Saudi government were working on implementing the concept of Smart Cities, adding that “the concept of practical implementation of Smart Cities is still a little blurred for those parties.”

In addition to the third platform and Smart Cities, the conference discussed enabling private sector employees to use their mobile devices for work while maintaining security, as well as the possibility of benefiting from domestic innovations in massive-data analysis and its positive impact on performing business efficiently.

Dr. Jarallah Al-Ghamidi, chief executive for IT at the Ministry of Education, presented a research document that summarized the ministry’s implementation of an advanced management system, which provides IT services for around 33,000 Saudi schools.

Basil Ilyas, a marketing manager at Dell, said there was a significant drop in the Saudi market in spending on mobile devices due to a change in the needs of the consumers—individuals and companies—for office equipment, laptops, tablets and other personal computing devices, which saw an increase in sales of 30 percent this year, compared with last year.

Demand for laptops in Saudi Arabia was down by 32 percent, reaching the lowest level of the last few years, while sales of office computers grew by 5.5 percent over last year due to an increase in demand from government and private sectors, especially from contracts with the Saudi Ministry of Education to supply its schools with computer workshops and advanced technologies.