Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Microsoft and Intel to return to Gitex

Original Article

Two of the most influential companies in the technology world have confirmed they will be attending Gitex Technology Week, after staying away from last year’s gathering.

The event, the largest technology exhibition in the Middle East, had only the informal participation of Microsoft and Intel last year, with companies meeting partners and attending portions of the programme, but not booking booth space. Their absence raised questions regarding the status of Gitex as a must-attend event for the industry.

But both companies said yesterday they would be taking part in this year’s event as exhibitors.

Samir al Schamma, the general manager for the GCC region at Intel, said the company would exhibit its new generation of Centrino 2 microchips from a stand in the Dubai Internet City section at the event.

Intel is also a partner of the Electronic Sports League, an international competitive gaming league that will host a special championship during Gitex.

Microsoft will be exhibiting under the Microsoft Dynamics brand, a line of software targeted at small and medium businesses.

At Gitex 2006, the company regionally launched Windows Vista, its first new operating system in more than five years. But one year later, it chose not to exhibit at Gitex for the first time in 16 years, saying it had no major new products to release.

Although Microsoft will not launch anything new at this year’s event, it will preview new Microsoft Dynamics products that will be released next year, according to Tamer Elhamy, the business solutions manager for Microsoft Gulf.

“We’re very pleased to see so many major industry leaders in business technology using the Gitex platform,” said Helal Saeed al Marri, the director general of Dubai World Trade Centre, which manages Gitex.

To avoid scheduling conflicts with another event and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, last year Gitex was pushed forward by more than a month, from its usual date in late October to the second week of September. Many participants were unhappy with the timing, which came at the tail-end of the quiet summer period and just days after the conclusion of a major telecommunications conference at the same location.

Combined with the absence of major industry players and what some exhibitors said was a more generalist, non-business visitor profile, it led to a conference that was considered lacklustre when compared to previous years.

Gitex organisers acknowledged the problem and said the timing would not be repeated. This year’s event runs from Oct 19-23, and its organisers are expecting more than 3,300 exhibitors.

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