Government participation at the foremost tech expo in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia is up 25 per cent compared with last year as the world’s top technology companies peddle their wares in Dubai from today.
The 33rd Gitex Technology Week kicks off as the Emirates’ e-government platforms announce new applications and services and expand their presence at the event.
The event, which has attracted more than 130,000 delegates from 150 countries, runs until Thursday with the theme “Let’s create, disrupt and re-imagine together”.
It will see new smartphone applications from Dubai Smart Government including MyID, which provides a unified and security electronic identity allowing users to access all electronic and smart service provided by Dubai government entities.
“These services and applications will contribute to changing Dubai into an integrated, knowledge-based city in the 21st century based on our belief that we should achieve results that will comply with the leadership’s aspirations and hopes to ease the life of people and make them happy,” said Ahmad Bin Humaidan, the director general of Dubai Smart Government.
The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water will also be announcing its m-government initiatives this year. Governments in the region are critical enablers of a connected, knowledge-based society and these e-government initiatives help to enable citizens easier access to government facilities.
Such continued investment from government is leading the region’s ICT sector towards maturity. The Middle East’s ICT sector total spend this year is predicted to increase 5.5 per cent from last year to US$192.9bn, according to research firm Gartner.
Continued investment in networks and technologies such as fourth-generation mobile infrastructure is driving greater connectivity. The telecoms vendor Ericsson calls this the networked society, a theme it is showcasing this year.
“The networked society is building a vision of the future. It shows the potential for growth and how the technology evolution is a platform for changing lives and businesses. There is plenty of fire on the ground and the UAE is leading in the regulatory environment,” said Anders Lindblad, the president at Ericsson Middle East.
Consumer behaviour is also driving the need for greater connectivity as more users go online and demand faster speeds and new services.
Small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are critical in meeting this demand for new services and offering new and innovative solutions.
“We are hoping to increase awareness and visibility of us as a player in the region and to build partnerships,” said Tim Rea, the chief executive of Palringo, an instant messaging application aimed primarily at gaming communities.
Palringo has shifted much of its focus on the Middle East given its young demographic and high smartphone penetration. It is aiming to reach 5 million users in the Middle East by the end of this year, currently, about 65 per cent of its global 25 million active user database is from the Middle East and 85 per cent of its revenues come from the region.
But as more people and businesses go online, the risk of cyber attacks increases and cyber security will once again play a prominent theme.
“Gitex is one of the best platforms, it brings in a lot of different potential customers across the region and this year we decided to give it some weight,” said Ray Kafity, the senior director at FireEye Middle East, Turkey and Africa, a security solutions provider, which established a presence in the Middle East in 2010.
The company will be unveiling its Oculus solution at Gitex which it hopes will raise awareness of the risks of cyber attacks in the region.
Such cyber crimes range from data breaches and theft of intellectual property to financially motivated attacks.
“The Middle East has one of the highest rates of cyber attacks in the world and the reason for that is simple. The region has a lot of critical assets, whether that is natural resources or people with large financial assets or government assets,” said Mr Kafity.
“People outside have great interest in getting access to data.”