Monday, October 31, 2005

ICT | Opening the ‘Gates’ to the information age

The visit of Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft, to Jordan last week was a major event for the public and private organizations in Jordan's ICT sector.

Typically, for a man with such a tight schedule and with massive demands on his time, it was not expected that he'd be spending several days in Jordan, or that he would have the time to meet with all the ICT minds in Jordan to thoroughly debate issues. He spent several hours in the country. But, his mere presence has had a galvanizing effect on the industry, even several weeks before he arrived and over a week now following his departure!

Gates has a persona of massive appeal to ICT and non-ICT people alike, and his name is etched in popular culture to such a degree that even local cartoonists provided some light caricatures to commemorate his visit, most prominent of which was a cartoon of Abu Mahjoub in which he proclaimed that 'as a mark of respect to Jordan's great guest, we will not sell pirated copies of Microsoft software today!"

I hope no one actually translated that caricature to Gates!

Above all, this visit has given Jordanians a sense of recognition, following six years of concentrated efforts to build and sustain public-private ICT sector initiatives in the country; and to market these initiatives abroad while inviting all multi-national technology players to invest in and cooperate with Jordan.

Microsoft has been one of the first companies to answer the call, with a host of cooperation initiatives and various forms of support.

In 2003, a Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) was signed between Microsoft and the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, by which the government became committed to using legally licensed Microsoft software in educational institutions in line with intellectual property rights.

In return, Microsoft made a commitment to expand it's help and support of the local ICT economy.As part of Gates' visit, he presided over the signing of the next phase of this agreement, with Microsoft committing to expand its services in Jordan and the region as well as boost the level of investment and cooperation with the private sector.

Gates also met with Jordanian students, and the CEOs of leading ICT companies in the Kingdom who briefed him on their products and services; in addition, of course, to meeting Their Majesties the King & Queen.

Later, he attended an Iftar gala, attended by hundreds of industry stakeholders, in which he spoke briefly about his impression of Jordan's technology industry. "Jordan is on the right track," he said, "What the King told me in 2000 is exactly the strategy that has been pursued."

It's not everyday, or even every decade for that matter, that The Technology Icon of the millenium visits Jordan.

A big occasion indeed, I hope we left a good impression and established the fact that Jordan does indeed mean business in ICT.


At 11:04 PM , Blogger Samir R. said...

I was part of the Youth Session, it was an honor, being a part of his program.

Lucky Jordan.. you say "spending several days in Jordan".. I was under the impression that he was staying for only 4 hours in jordan. ?

At 11:03 AM , Blogger Zeid Nasser said...

Thanks Samir for your comment. Actually, the post states that "it was not expected that he'd be spending several days in Jordan ... He spent several hours in the country."
Anyway, glad to hear you met the man in person! What did he say?

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