• The current political situation in the Middle East and what this means for Information Technology

    The Middle East has established itself at the forefront among developing economies when it comes to the implementation of Information Technology solutions. No other region can compare to such rapid and sustained growth in this critical business sector as the Middle East has in recent decades. Nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have been amongst the global leaders in terms of levels of investment and the expansion of Information Technology applications.

    It is not all clear sailing for the regional sector’s continued growth however. All economies fall victim to social and political pressures. The current political situation does not lend itself to advantageous circumstances for any commercial sector, particularly a relatively new and developing one such as Information Technology. Within the Middle East, instability takes form in the threats of sectarian violence, civil war, and uncertain political futures. While this is not an insurmountable obstacle, it certainly makes the process of growth and development far more difficult.

    The strategic development of IT solutions cannot be accomplished purely through domestic talent. It is necessary to recruit foreign nationals at the onset, so that these individuals can bring with them the latest philosophies and skills already in use in the developed nations. These expatriates allow for the successful transition of technological know-how until grassroots talent has fully come of age. This can be seriously challenged though due to the region’s political climate.

    Growth in Information Technology will be hampered by a shortage of qualified leadership and middle management talent able to work effectively across the region. Many executives at the very top of industries can be tempted to the Middle East because of generous job packages – which often include tax breaks and impressive compensation packages. However, it is far more difficult to attract talent at the middle tiers, the program managers and bureau leaders. The financial incentives for these non-executives can regularly do not outweigh the risks brought by social and political tensions within the region. These personnel are essential for maximizing the most out of the available low cost labor found throughout the Middle East; without qualified middle management, further expansion throughout the region would only dilute the overall effectiveness and competence of the sector.

    Foreign direct investment is also a casualty to unstable political conditions. If the climate is too dangerous to relocate to, many investors see this as a cause for concern to avoid pumping additional resources into projects within the region. This results in less private investment, and the tightening of budgets to meet diminished allocations. It also can result in the growing influence of public sector involvement in Information Technology. National government agencies will take on an increased role in IT development; as it stands, public IT projects are at the forefront of building much of the region’s IT infrastructure, including networks and information security applications. A number of e-governance initiatives will grow more rapidly compared to the effects seen by similar initiatives in Europe, North America and Asia.

    The Middle East maintains a regional impression unlike any other in the world. The infusion of social, political, and economic influences is far more intrinsically linked than seen in the Western world. This unique world view makes for odd bedfellows for Western business practices to fully emerge and grow within the area, such as the sector of Information Technology. The development of IT practices will encounter obstacles unseen elsewhere. However, with perseverance, ambition, and forward-thinking, this region can deliver extraordinary things which are simply unfathomable in other parts of the world.

    Categories: Construction, Information Technology, Political Conditions

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