ARAB "HIGH TECH ROAD SHOW" TO THE
U.S.A. KICKS OFF IN LAS VEGAS
More Than 50 Delegates from 13 MENA
Nations -- Largest Ever -- Make First Stop at
International Consumer Electronics Show
Head of World's Biggest Tech Show Says the Middle
East is an Increasingly Important Region for High Tech
The 2012 High Tech Road Show, now in its fifth year, is the biggest ever, according to the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC). Thirteen Arab nations are participating in this year's Road Show, which consists of more than 50 government and business leaders, including six minister-level registrants. The largest national delegations this year come from the Sultanate of Oman and the Republic of Lebanon.
"There has been a surge in interest this year for a variety of reasons," according to David Hamod, the U.S.-Arab Chamber's President & CEO. "Events of the Arab Spring, for example, have prompted forward-looking business leaders to look beyond their traditional markets and suppliers, thereby creating opportunities for new, reliable commercial relationships in the United States. Delegates have also been attracted to this year's Road Show because of the remarkable events that we have planned in three locations: Las Vegas, Silicon Valley, and Washington DC."
Hamod went on to say that the main reason for the uptick in interest among Arab government officials this year can be attributed to the Chamber's new partnership with IJMA3-USA, the Union of Arab ICT Associations. "As a result of the tireless efforts of IJMA3-USA's Secretary General, Mr. Nizar Zakka, word of this year's High Tech Road Show spread far and wide in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region."
Thirteen Arab nations are participating in this year's tour, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The lead sponsor for this year's High Tech Road Show is Emirates Airlines, which is expanding its service between the United States and its hub in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
H.E. Dr. Salim Al-Ruzaiqi, Chief Executive Officer of Oman's Information Technology Authority and head of the Omani national delegation, is participating in his first High Tech Road Show. He says that the Road Show represents a "remarkable opportunity to strengthen the economic relationships between the United States and the Sultanate of Oman. The Road Show establishes a platform for both the private and public sectors represented in the delegation to connect directly with their counterparts in the United States, and it grants unparalleled access to innovative technologies and new products and services in the ICT industry."
H.E. Yasser El Kady, Chief Executive Officer of ITIDA, Egypt's IT Development Agency at the ICT Ministry, is leading the Egyptian national delegation on this year's High Tech Road Show. He notes that this visit has "developed direct contacts and relationships with global companies -- opening up opportunities to attract investment from those companies in promising markets, like that of Egypt. These opportunities will reflect positively on such companies and on the development and growth of the Egyptian economy, as well as helping to open markets and create jobs." He concluded, "Our visit to the Consumer Electronics Show -- one of the largest international exhibitions for information technology -- is a unique opportunity for us to learn about all the new products and services in the information and communication technology industry."
Visit to International Consumer Electronics Show
The High Tech Road Show delegation has just wrapped up three days in Las Vegas at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a showcase for cutting edge technology and the latest consumer electronics gizmos and gadgets. More than 20,000 new products were launched at the 2012 CES, making it the most significant launch pad of its kind in the world.
Global retail sales of consumer electronics are expected to reach $1.04 trillion in 2012, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. There has been a slowdown in recent years in established markets like North America and Europe, but aggressive growth in China, India, the Middle East, and other emerging economies has more than made up for the downturn in mature markets.
This year's CES was the largest in the event's 44-year history, with a record number of more than 3,100 exhibitors across the largest show floor in CES history -- 1.861 million net square feet of exhibit space. Attendance broke all previous records, with over 153,000 attendees, more than 34,000 of whom came from overseas.
The International CES is massive, but the High Tech Road Show delegation had an outsized presence at the show. Gary Shapiro, head of CES and President & CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, noted, "Every year, I am impressed by the quality of delegates that the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce brings to CES, and this year did not disappoint. In this record-breaking year for CES, no other group brought more senior-level foreign government officials than NUSACC did. The Middle East is an important region for our industry, and I am excited to see what the future holds."
Shapiro held a private meeting with High Tech Road Show delegates, who shared insights into the growing Consumer Electronics market in the MENA region, especially in light of the key role that technology has played during the Arab Spring. It is notable that this year's Road Show includes forward-looking delegates from some of the Arab nations that have experienced the most turmoil in recent months, including Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen.
High Tech Road Show delegates also held private meetings with two of the three Commissioners who currently oversee America's Federal Communications Commission (FCC): Hon. Robert McDowell and Hon. Mignon Clyburn. These meetings were especially useful to the regulators in the Road Show delegation who are facing many of the same issues as their FCC counterparts in the United States. The FCC -- an independent agency of the U.S. Government -- regulates interstate and international communications and promotes competition, innovation, and investment in broadband services and facilities.
Delegates also had an opportunity to meet with select industry leaders, including John Donahoe, President & CEO of eBay. In his keynote address, Donahoe noted that smartphones are "blurring the line between e-commerce and retail," pointing out how online entities like eBay are driving an increasing amount of business to brick-and-mortar retailers. Half of all retail transactions last year involved some aspect of Web access, he suggested, and a growing percentage of eBay's revenue is coming from retail service subsidiaries like PayPal and Milo, a shopping app that helps to identify products and retail establishments. As a result, Donahoe noted, "Consumers feel like they have a mall in their pockets." In the consumer electronics space, eBay generated $4.2 billion in domestic transactions last year.
Other keynote speakers included: Steve Ballmer, Chairman & CEO of Microsoft; Paul Otellini, President & CEO of Intel; Paul Jacobs, Chairman & CEO of Qualcomm; Hans Vestberg, President & CEO of Ericsson; Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz; Ursula Burns, Chairman & CEO of Xerox; Lowell McAdam, President & CEO of Verizon; Alan Mulally, President & CEO of Ford Motor Company; Robert Kyncl, Vice President of Global Content Partnerships at YouTube.
Robert Kyncl's presentation was nothing short of mind-boggling. "Over 100,000 years' worth of YouTube videos are watched on Facebook every single year," he said, and by 2020, he expects that more than 75 percent of all types of television channels, including YouTube, will be viewed over the Internet. 700 million mobile devices will be activated this year, noted Kyncl, and he predicts that more than 500 million smart TVs will be sold by 2015. Kyncl quipped, "There are more Android activations every single day than there are babies born on earth." YouTube has more than 800 million users showing three billion hours per month, he said, which translates into 30 minutes for every human on earth.
Concluded David Hamod of the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce, "Consumer electronics is an increasingly important economic driver in the MENA region, in part because the region has one of the fastest growing youth populations in the world. The International CES is the place to be for the 'next big thing' in consumer electronics, and we are proud to make this showcase part of our annual High Tech Road Show."