Monthly Archives: July 2015

Trends & Adoption of IT Services in Saudi Arabia

IT Services in Saudi Arabia

The IT Services Market in the Middle East was valued at USD 4 Billion in 2014 and is estimated to reach 6 Billion by the year 2016.  According to a report by Chamber of Commerce and Industry of one of the GCC Countries, there has been a growth of almost 10% annually over the last five years in the Middle East.

The government has major steps in supporting the IT initiatives in the entire region.  The government of Saudi Arabia has taken excellent initiatives to implement E Governance in major departments. A lot of government offices, schools and colleges are implementing E Governance which has helped them in their growth across the Kingdom.

One major factor for the growth of IT Sector in Saudi Arabia is the rapid growth of the SME segment over the past few years. This rapid growth of SME’s in the region has resulted in great demand for IT Services.  Basically it’s the Large Corporations & government organizations which are the major customers of IT Services in the region, however the rapid growth of the SME’s has resulted in a real increase in the demand of IT Services across the region. More and more SME’s are using technology to reduce the overall costs of an organization.  The trend keeps to be gaining momentum every passing year and is likely to grow more quickly in the coming years.

A lot of large Corporate and government organizations are the major trend setters in the Kingdom. The adoption of Project based IT Services which includes the likes of Customized software Development, Business Application & Development , IT Consulting , Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions & CRM implementations have helped these organizations manage their operations immensely.  A lot of these companies in Saudi Arabia now realize the importance of Cloud computing solutions. They understand the scalability and cost effectiveness it gets to their company and so a lot of private organizations are not integrating their IN HOUSE IT infrastructure with cloud based services.

Due to increase in demand of IT Services across the Kingdom, there is also increase in the number of IT Business Management Companies, Software Development Companies & Web Development companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Due to this increase there is an increased competition to deliver better services at competitive prices across the entire region.  The adoption of Software and IT Solutions has helped product development life cycle and has helped companies to stream line their work flow. However, the IT Services market in Saudi Arabia still faces certain challenges which include the scarcity of highly qualified IT Professionals in the region. There are certain other challenges for the IT Services like the regulatory hurdles. A few softwares can affect the privacy of the data and so it becomes a regulatory hurdle.  There are also places in the Kingdom which has in adequate tele communication infrastructure and so it becomes challenging to carry out High end IT Enabled services across these zones.

Despite of all these challenges, IT Enabled Services will continue to grow at a rapid pace in the entire Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The adoption of Project Based IT Services and the emergence of standard Software Development Companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are most likely to keep the IT Services Market Growth in the years to come.

A City Guide to Abha, Saudi Arabia

A City Guide to Abha

Abha is a famous destination for tourist in Saudi Arabia. It is the capital of Asir province. It is located 2200 meters above sea level in the lush green mountains of south-western Saudi Arabia. The city’s mild and pleasant climate makes it a popular tourist location for the residents of Saudi Arabia. Flights are available from Medina, Jeddah and Riyadh to Abha on a regular basis. Thanks to the regions cultural heritage, Abha has many historic places such as forts and other locations. Apart from that, being located on the high altitude makes it a popular summer getaway. The road trip from Khamis Mushait to Abha can be exciting, but one needs to drive carefully.

Until World War I, Abha was under the authority of the Ottoman Empire and it was the capital city for the Prince of Asir Ibn Ayde.  In the year 1918, Yahiya bin Hasan Al Ayde grandson of Ibn Ayed, the Prince of Asir returned to his ancestor’s throne conquered in Abha with complete independence. The Asir province joined with Ibn Saud in coursework of the Unification of Saudi Arabia in 1920.

A beautiful and scenic coastal road connecting Jeddah and Abha was constructed in 1979. The Saudi Public Transport Co. (SAPTCO) buses connect Abha to other destinations within the region of Saudi Arabia.

The main airport is the Abha Regional Airport. In the early 1975, construction of Dutch-designed Abha Airport began, and flights started operating from 1977. Domestic flights were serviced by the military airport near Khamis Mushait by Ali Misfer Ibn Misfer before construction of the airport. International connections are available to the UAE (Dubai, Sharjah), Egypt (Cairo), Yemen (Sana’a) and as well as to other destinations within Saudi Arabia.

The city of Abha consists of four different quarters, the largest of which contains a fortress. Hilltop fortresses are a distinctive feature of the city. Shadda Palace, constructed in 1927, has now turned into a museum displaying household items and local handicrafts. Other famous and renowned buildings in Abha include the Abha Palace Hotel, the Al-Tahy restaurant, the Abha Great Mosque, and the fun park adjacent to Lake Sadd. About 1.5 km southwest of the town, The New Abha five-star hotel is a latest entrant on the scenic lake front. Al Watan, a major Saudi Arabian daily, has its head office and the main printing presses located in Abha region.

The Saudi Arabian government has endorsed Abha as a tourist location. The organization regularly hosts events to attract visitors to the city and its surroundings, including the sporting events, summer Abha Festival, shows, exhibitions, and musical performances by poets and singers.

In addition to its scenic beauty, the mountainous terrain of Asser’s has made it possible for the development of four breathtaking cable car systems joining the numerous resorts with each other, that also includes the steep rock rides at the Lakeside, Al-Sooda and Al-Habala and Thera Mountain routes.

The city is blessed with stunning mountain scenery, a pleasant and cool climate, fertile soil and moderate rainfall. No doubt, Abha is vastly becoming a major tourist attraction. It is one of the most populous regions in the Arabian Peninsula during the vacations. Its remarkable history has resulted in a rich cultural heritage and presents a colorful mosaic of changing traditions and architecture.

The Saudi Arabian Authorities have played a major role in the development of Abha. The city has 5-star hotels, fashionable motels and furnished tourist villas. Visitors can spend their leisure time moving between beautiful mountain parks amidst a hospitable Arab atmosphere.

Special Ramadan Foods From Around the World

Special Ramadan Foods

Iftar can be described as a fast-breaking meal which is a daily ritual during the holy month of Ramadan. A traditional Iftar menu around the world consists of juice, fruits, dates, milk, and water. Muslims belief that the Prophet Mohammad (saw) usually broke his fast by either eating dates or drinking water.

Ramadan is a month of fasting and celebration for Muslims around the world. It is a significant month throughout the Middle East. Muslims reflect on their spiritual side and spend quality time with family and friends. During Ramadan, it is very important to focus on what’s important in life and how to improve relationships between family and friends. The most crucial part of the socializing aspect in this month is focused around breaking of the fast, iftar as it is known in Arabic, and the meal before the day of fasting begins (sahoor). Special food and drinks to be enjoyed with family and friends are prepared every year in Ramadan in the Middle East region.

Erk Soos — it is a drink commonly consumed in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Palestine.  Erk Soos is a thick, sweet drink generally made of the extract of liquorices’ plant. Normally, this juice is a bit of an acquired taste, but people from these regions love this drink and looks forward to it each Ramadan.

Qatayef — this is a common sweet in the Egypt region. Qatayef is a sweet treat which is very popular in the month of Ramadan. It is prepared baked or fried and is filled with dry fruits like pistachios and walnuts.

Watermelon and Cheese — A light and healthy way to break your fast, Jibneh wa bateekh is the perfect combination of sweet and cream. It is common all around the Middle East region but foreigners might find this mix quite surprising, until they try it for themselves.

Madgooga – Nisreen Nasrallah is an Iraqi scholar and author. In her book, Delights from the Garden of Eden, she has beautifully presented the recipes of authentic Iraqi meal and desserts and the history behind them. She has written some of the history behind the date and Madgooga. It is a rich and sweet recipe traditionally prepared in Iraq during the Ramadan month.

Brik and Chorba — Usually, the fast is broken with Brik and Chorba (soup) in Tunisia. Brik is a dish that is made of deep-fried pastry shell filled with egg, cheese and tuna. Chorba (shorba) is a soup consisting of fresh vegetables. The combination is healthy and traditionally they are eaten together at the time of iftar in Tunisia.

Harira — In Morocco, Harira is a traditional tomato-based soup eaten at the time of Iftar. It is traditionally prepared days in advance and eaten at iftar as a light way to break the fast before indulging in the main courses.

Every region has its own specialties when it comes to serving dishes at iftar.  Hyderabad, a famous city in India, is very popular for haleem. It is a traditional dish made out of meat, spices and pulses. This dish has gained immense popularity in the Indian Subcontinent.

Other famous dishes are desserts, biryani, sherbets (cool drinks), and samosas. In Afghanistan, the Iftar dishes include kebabs,  rice pulao,  soups and onion-based meat curries. Sweet like jalebis, fruit salads and delicious dishes like parathas, meat curries, fruit salads, and kebabs are most preferred items for breaking the fast in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Education and Economic Development in Saudi Arabia

education

Education and Economic Development in Saudi Arabia

 

Economical and political turmoil was witnessed in parts of North Africa and Middle East since 2011, but it has not affected Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom has remained stable and many foreign investors still view it as an attractive and promising place to do business.

The Kingdom’s currency, Saudi Riyal, is one of the world’s most stable currencies and it has not witnessed any compelling change in its exchange value during the last three decades.

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s 25 largest economies. It is the largest economy in the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA). Hence, major MNCs have invested in the Kingdom.

The country has a very fast growing economy, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2014 reached over 8%. Thus, the ever growing economy is creating great opportunities for both exporters and investors. The industry is rapidly growing because the economy is being diversified. It has further resulted in economic reform, market liberalization and a growing private sector.

Saudi Arabia has significant cost advantages because of low domestic cost of energy. The industrial lands are also available in the major vicinities due to generous subsidies and incentives. The Kingdom provides duty free access to other MENA and GCC economies and has good transport and infrastructure links.

Exporters and Investors in Saudi Arabia enjoy the benefits of well-developed business clusters and economic assurance that set the Kingdom apart from its neighbors and from other emerging economies. The World Economic Forum has ranked Saudi Arabia, 6th globally, for Local Supplier Quantity. It has placed the Kingdom at 24th rank for Production Process Improvement and Value Chain Breadth. Saudi Arabia’s domestic industries are well established, competitive and economical. It varies from industrial projects to transportation, producing energy to providing education and provides exceptional opportunities for cost savings. Now, the industries like Oil, gas and petrochemicals are not only the major source of development. Education, training and human capital development has seen tremendous growth over the years.

In recent times, The Kingdom has introduced a total reform of the present education system. It has sanctioned huge funds to build new educational institutes and collaborated with International Universities for training program and overseas degrees for Saudi students. Many investors are showing keen interest to be a part of this growing industry in Saudi Arabia, and hence making foreign investment in education to meet rapid growth demands.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is investing billions of dollars in setting up four Economic Cities in different parts of the country. They are Knowledge Economic City (Al Medina), King Abdullah Economic City (Rabigh, Jeddah), Jazan Economic City (Jazan City), and Prince Abdul Aziz bin Mousdaed Economic City (Hail).

These ventures will be public-private partnerships that will invite foreign companies to make attractive investments. Every project is designed to boost investment potential in all sectors, and deliver substantial advantages to business located in that region. All the cities will help in promoting economic diversification and the market analyst believe that it will create over a million new job opportunities.

Useful health and food tips to prepare your family this Ramadan

Ramadan Food

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. It is during this month that Muslims observe the Fast of Ramadan. Fasting is one of the five Pillars of Worship in Islam. During this Holy month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking (among other things) between sunrise and sunset to teach themselves self-awareness, patience and tolerance.

The holy month of Ramadan falls in June/July in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This time of the year is the hottest in The Kingdom and so one need to be extra careful in following good health & food habits during this holy month.

Suhoor is the meal taken immediately before sunrise. The fasting commences immediately with the Fajr Prayers. It’s a vital meal in Ramadan as it gives you strength and vitality for the day and can make fasting easier and tolerable. Make sure that this meal is mostly whole grain breads, rice and whole grain cereals as these meals are rich in Carbohydrates and can help you to maintain your blood sugar levels. There are a lot of Hotels in Saudi Arabia that offer Suhoor in this month.  Make sure you drink adequate water during the Suhoor.

A healthy Iftar goes hand in hand with the traditions. Most of the people start off with a date or two and then with glass of water.  2-3 dates are enough to break your fast. It’s a common tradition to break the fast with dates as they are extremely rich in calories. The most important thing during Ramadan is to make sure that you focus on moderation as its essential to help you maintain a healthy weight during Ramadan.  Apart from Dates, there are lots of delicacies that are served at the time of iftar. One such delicacy is the Sambosa. However it is advisable to be moderate in your consumption of appetizers such as sambosa as these deep fried delicacies are high in calories and fat which may result in the  increase of cholesterol levels in the blood. The better option would be to have them baked and stuffed with low fat cheese. Starting your Iftar meal with a warm soup comforts the stomach after a long day of fasting, replenishes your body with fluids and helps you to prepare the digestive system for this blessed meal. Eating your soup and salad slowly at Iftar will help you feel full and prevent you from overeating later from the main dish and sweets. Its always good to be creative with your salad. The more varied and colorful vegetables you include in your salad, the more assorted are the nutrients and antioxidants you get. These help protect your body cells and promote good health especially during this holy month. Maghrib is performed after breaking the fast which is then followed by the main course.

 

It’s very important to go for a balanced main dish at Iftar which is rich in carbohydrates & Proteins. A common tradition in Saudi Arabia is to serve Rice, Chicken, Pasta, Potatoes and borghul during the main course. Most of the Restaurants in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia serve quality dishes throughout the month. All these dishes are rich in carbohydrates and proteins however it is important to have a moderate diet to avoid over eating during Ramadan which results in weight gain. Its always recommended to divide your main course into three parts. It’s good to have one quarter with carbohydrates, one part with meat or equivalent and the remaining with vegetables to have a good balance diet.

A lot of people tend to eat a little more during Ramadan which results in weight gain. The key is to have a healthy iftar and have food in moderation. It’s good to choose more from fruits and vegetables. Regular exercises will also help you to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the holy month of Ramadan. Avoiding sweets during Ramadan is recommended. Meats, legumes, eggs and dairy products are rich in proteins. Ensure you have at least one of these sources in every Ramadan meal since proteins are very important for your body cells. They also increase your satiety level thus reducing the temptation for eating sweets.

This Ramadan, eat healthy at Suhoor & Iftar to ensure adequate nutrition and continued good health. Let this blessed month of Ramadan be a time of revival in spirit, soul and body.