What Happened in ExpoTech 2010

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On Tuesday, 2nd November 2010, ExpoTech Week was launched. we’ll be writing two blog posts about our presence there, these two posts are titled “What Happened in ExpoTech 2010” talking about the real world speeches, activities and events. And the other post will be titled “What should have happened in ExpoTech 2010” pointing out to some weak-points we think were not given enough attention or no attention at all.

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They first had a VIP dinner a day before the launch of ExpoTech, it was based on private invitations and lots of press were there (we weren’t invited, so we can’t talk much about this).

They kicked it off around 9:30am or a bit later with the Opening Ceremony. Laith Kassis introduced the panelists which included Ala’ Aladdin, Chairman of PITA/PICTI, Dr. Mashhour Abu Daka, Minister of Telecom and IT and Dr. Hasan Abu Libdeh, Minister of National Economy. Ala’ Aladdin talked about the different international interest in the local market like CISCO, Intel and so on, he also emphasized that the IT private sector is contributing with 5% of the total GDP of Palestine.

Abu Daka noted to the accomplishments they’ve done in the government “We’re about to finish the Government Network, a robust fiber optical network.” Abu Daka said. He also talked about the limitations Israel is putting on using different technologies such as the prohibiting of using 3G and WiMax. “Our second major work we’ve done is Palestine Post Office.” Abu Daka said and he continued “Israel is putting obstacles in terms of the post office, they’re demanding that all the posts go through Israel”. He also emphasized that we will soon get our own Postal code. “We’ve liberalized the Internet market and introduced the BSA and we hope this will be implemented in Gaza too” Abu Daka added. He also spoke about the Union Research Network that is supposed to be built between Palestinian Universities to help improve research and collaboration. “We also encourage innovation. We’ve donated half a million dollar for PICTI” he added.

Abu Lebdeh in the other hand gave his speech in Arabic, his speech kept emphasizing about the illegal distribution of products and services while talking about the Israeli Settlements products and services. “Settlements must get out of our lives. All what is produced in the settlements are absolutely illegal” he said. This concluded the opening speech.

In the IT Business in Palestine, Dr. Saidam mentioned that “The siege pushed the Palestinian to successfully implement more connected systems, schools, courts and ministries”. On the other and Nick White said “Trust and good price needed to get more business from outside to Palestinian companies” he also emphasized that we need to understand what is Palestine competitive advantages, is it price, sustainability or something else.

Saidam also emphasized that “ Opensource will soon break through in Palestine”, he said there’ll be lots of projects coming and that companies should be prepared for adapting it. Kassis also through out a rough statistic that “30% of PITA members already have international partners” when people in the room were asked to raise hands if they have international partners. Mr. Tjia also talked about SaaS (Software as a Service) and that is “SaaS is a major opportunity to turn legacy software into SaaS. This could be helpful for the local sector”. “I am so pleased to know that PICTI will soon be promoting entrepreneurship culture through schools” Saidam praised PICTI.


In the Telecom and Broadband panel, Ammar Al Aker, Paltel CEO, said about the recent move to the BSA “Paltel isn’t an ISP any more, we provide the infrastructure for all ISPs to work freely and competitively” he also mentioned that they’re plans to invest more and bring the internet speed up to 8MB. On the other hand, Yahya Al Salqan, CEO of Jaffa.net, shot a bullet about Paltel and the new BSA saying “Up till BSA, the only option we had is WiFi! And the new licensing scheme is really confusing!”. Khaled Abu Hasna, CEO of Fusion was a speaker from Gaza said “Paltel should sell Hadara to the market” while Al Aker counter answered him with “We know people don’t like Hadara, but we love it and we’re keeping it!”.

In the Technology Entrepreneurship/Financing panel, Usama Fayyad, Chairman of OASIS 500, said “Internet startups have potentially a market of the whole world!”. Victor Hwang emphasized that the digital space is about speed “Typically people write business plans when they’re starting a business. In tech space, they create powerpoints. It’s all about speed”. This panel was almost taken by Usama Fayyad, he has clearly had lots of stuff to talk about. I’ve asked Usama Fayyad if there’s any plans to take OASIS 500 to Palestine as they’re doing in Jordan, he commented that “We’ve been asked to take oasis regional, but we’re trying to proof the concept for now.”. So we’re not expecting an OASIS for Palestine in the coming 5 years.

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The last panel in day one was about Technology Trends, Tareq Maayah, CEO of Exalt, emphasized about the importance for developers to know the underlying metaphors of development platform “Writing code is not enough any longer” he said. The most asked question about Arabic Content got also its share from this panel, Mr. Arrabi noted that “Content is a free market problem, everybody should collaborate to solve it, no single entity can solve it alone”. This concluded day 1 of ExpoTech 2010.

In the second day of the conference, unfortunately we missed the first session about e-Government. The second session was about Strategies to Grow the ICT Sector. Abu Daka kept emphasizing about the Post Office in Palestine, he admitted that it’s his favorite subject. The same debate about the Private sector and Government cooperation has taken place and lots of questions were asked toward how private companies that are not part of PITA (the association for private companies) can talk and collaborate with government. On the other hand, Ghassan Al Jamal noted that “Sustainability has always been an issue for investors”. “Integrating Government with IT isn’t a choice anymore, it’s a must. We know that” Abu Daka confirmed.

Expotech 3In the second day of the conference, unfortunately we missed the first session about e-Government. The second session was about Strategies to Grow the ICT Sector. Abu Daka kept emphasizing about the Post Office in Palestine, he admitted that it’s his favorite subject. The same debate about the Private sector and Government cooperation has taken place and lots of questions were asked toward how private companies that are not part of PITA (the association for private companies) can talk and collaborate with government. On the other hand, Ghassan Al Jamal noted that “Sustainability has always been an issue for investors”. “Integrating Government with IT isn’t a choice anymore, it’s a must. We know that” Abu Daka confirmed.

The last session of day 2 was about IT Education. Panelists were mostly from industry (Update: Miss Muna told us that two of the panelists were actually from Universities); most of the discussion raised negative points of Universities, “I would’ve loved to see minister of Education in this panel” Maayah said. Muna Matar was one of the panelists, she said “Our Palestinian Universities are at the level of US High Schools!” (Update: Miss Muna denied saying such words, it was a mis-interruption of the sentence she said). Questions have been raised regarding whether the private sector affect the public education policy.

Sabri Saidam gave the closing session speech. And that was the end of the ExpoTech 2010 conference.

For Pictures of the event, please check our public Picasa web gallery.

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