The Syrian Computer Society at the heart of
Syria's IT sector
Can you introduce us to the
Syrian Computer Society?
The SCS was established in 1989 in
great part thanks to the efforts of Bassel al-Assad. Its objective is to
help develop the IT culture in the Syrian society, among students,
businessmen, government officials and others.
For that purpose, it
organises conferences and seminars on all sorts of issues related to the
IT sector, an annual exhibition, SHAAM, as well as a conference on a very
specialised field every 4 years. The society also provides training on
computers, operating systems, networks, and many other software and it
issues a quarterly magazine.
Is membership open to anyone?
Theoretically anybody can be part of it. People
come from various backgrounds: researchers, academics, specialists in the
IT business, etc.
|The society is
divided in a series of committees, such as the business committee,
which is formed of members of the business community, the PR
committee, the training committee and so on. As an example, the
business committee includes all the major players of the sector. As
at today 95 companies are member of this committee from all the
fields, software, hardware, solutions, etc.
In addition, the SCS
benefits from the patronage of Bashar al-Assad, the President of the
Republic, who was its former president.
How important is the SHAAM
SHAAM is the largest exhibition of the sector in
Syria and one of the most important in the Middle East. It draws companies
from around the world. Apart from the exhibition of products and services
it will feature conferences and seminars on a host of issues. The event is
really at the heart of the policy to make of Syria a regional centre for
IT. This year the exhibition will be taking place from April 22 to April
Is there any significant feedback from people
on your activities?
The feedback is very good. Actually, the SCS
has helped organise and promote the work of the sector. Among our major
achievements is our partnership with the ministry of education to help
teach the use of computers to over 85,000 people, free of charge.
|Is the work of the
society well perceived abroad?|
A major problem for Syria is the fact
that most people don't know anything about it. Still, with the help
of the French trade mission in Damascus, I made a recent visit to
the SETI exhibition organised in Paris, and I sensed there a great
interest in dealing with us.
||A lot of companies have expressed their will to come to
Syria. Following this same visit, officials from the International
Trade Centre have offered to provide training courses in Syria. In
addition, next year, Syria will get a free stand at this same
How about the state of the IT
The industry is in a relatively good shape. Syria is a
producer and exporter of software. We have been exporting our software to
the Gulf region and to other Arab countries. Few people know, for
instance, that the documentation for Microsoft products has been
translated into Arabic by a Syrian company.
In addition, opportunities
are great: the modernisation of the banking sector, the introduction of
computers into government and all state administration, the modernisation
of the industrial sector, all this requires investment in IT.
Are there particular incentives for a
foreign company to invest in the IT sector in Syria?
many. As I have just said, there is an important local demand.
the supply of labour is large. Actually, it is one of the best educated,
yet cheapest in the Middle East. Salaries start as low as USD350 for
programmers and rise to about USD1,000.00. As at today, we have three new
IT engineering faculties in the universities of Damascus, Aleppo and
Then you have the big support we receive from authorities.
The fact that the President and four current members of the government are
members of the society is a strong proof of the authorities' will to
promote the sector.
Investment laws are attractive and there is the
possibility to invest in the free zone areas for exporting your products
to the whole Middle East region.
One of the big problems remains the state of
Internet in the country. Connectivity rate is extremely low, so is the
number of subscribers.
This is true, but before the end of the
year we will have 200,000 additional lines. With these lines we are
planning to offer 200,000 PCs at a low cost with long term payment
solutions. They will be proposed as one package with the lines.
The Curriculum Vitae of
Born in Damascus in
Graduated in Computer Sciences and Business
Since 1982 in the computer business
manages his own company, MIT
A member of SCS since its earliest days
Ihsan Moussa was interviewed by Jihad Yazigi in