KUALA LUMPUR: The Union of Arab ICT Associations (IJMA3) is upbeat that the upcoming World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) 2008 here will help pave the way for future collaboration between Malaysia and the Middle East.
"We are very interested to invest in Malaysia. In fact, our main interest during WCIT 2008 would be to look for Malaysian ICT companies to invest in," said Nizar Zakka, secretary general of IJMA3.
IJMA3 represents the ICT (information and communications technology) industry of countries in the Middle East.
"To us, Malaysia is a gate that connects the Middle East to Asia," Zakka said.
He was speaking to In.Tech during the official meeting of the World IT Services and Alliance (Witsa) – a consortium of ICT industry associations around the world which represents over 90% of the ICT market worldwide – in the capital recently.
WCIT, a signature forum of Witsa, is a premier global ICT forum for business networking and the exchange of policies, ideas and technology.
According to Zakka, Malaysia only needs to improve its branding efforts to better promote its products internationally.
"The ICT industry in Malaysia already has the skills, quality and products – with good marketing, the country would be in the best position in the world to work with the Middle East," he said.
He said delegates from the Middle East would be interested to form partnerships and joint ventures with Malaysian ICT companies during WCIT 2008.
One possible partnership, he cited as an example, would be for Malaysian companies to set up development centres in the Middle East, especially in the Euro-Mediterranean free trade areas.
Meanwhile Dr James Poisant, Witsa secretary-general, said Malaysia made a very strategic decision to set up the Multimedia Super Corridor years ago, and is a well-established leader in ICT today.
"The influential people who attend WCIT next year will bring back an even better impression of Malaysia, and they would keep the country in mind when they think of where to invest next," he said.
Phillip Bond, Witsa president, agrees. He said WCIT is the ICT equivalent of the World Economic Forum.
"It is a great opportunity for Malaysia because WCIT is a stepping stone toward helping people from around the world understand what Malaysia has to offer," Bond said.
David Olive, Witsa public policy chairman, is hoping that governments from various economies would be able to share their best practises and policies during the event.
"One government could then learn from another how to do something better," he said.
Other key issues that will likely be discussed is the use of ICT to improve healthcare and the environment, as well as information security issues. WCIT 2008 is expected to attract some 2,500 industry, government and academic leaders from around the world. It will be held in Kuala Lumpur from May 18 to 22.
Among the global personalities to be invited are former US President Bill Clinton, Microsoft's Bill Gates, and Infosys Technologies founder Narayana Murthy.
WCIT 2008 is being hosted by the Multimedia Development Corporation and the Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia, with the support of the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.