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Citrix expands in Middle East with first Saudi Arabia office

Citrix is increasing its presence in the Middle East, opening its first office in Saudi Arabia with plans to expand into Qatar and Egypt

Citrix is planning to expand its operations in the Middle East, opening its first office in Saudi Arabia.

The US-based virtualisation company – which has partnered with organisations in the region – plans to expand into Qatar and Egypt in the near future.

“For us today in Middle East and North Africa, the significant markets are the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Turkey,” said Sherif Seddik, vice-president of sales and services for Emea at Citrix. “We are entering the Saudi market for the first time this year. That’s a very important thing and we are picking areas we’re going to re-invest in to drive growth.”

Like many technology companies, Citrix is looking to emerging markets such as the Middle East as European markets stagnate.

The region offers a great opportunity for technology firms. IT spending continues to grow and the rise in mobility – a market where, in some of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, penetration exceeds 200%. This has fuelled the trend for bring your own device (BYOD) schemes, creating more flexible workplaces and raising demand for vitualisation software.

“The adoption of virtualisation today is broadening to storage, network and desktop virtualisation,” said Swapna Subramani, research manager of enterprise infrastructure at IDC. “The Middle East region has graduated from mere adoption of virtualisation, to utilising the virtual infrastructure and creating a private cloud environment.”

According to IDC, 68% of CIOs in the region have already adopted server virtualisation in their organisations. In Saudi Arabia, the desktop virtualisation space is expected to grow at a rate of 14.9% a year from 2015 until 2020.

“The kingdom is one of the front-runners for virtualisation adoption in the region with a high rate of server virtualisation and quickly expanding virtualisation initiatives across the datacentre and endpoints,” said Subramani.

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Increasing commitment in the region

More recently, the explosion of video – particularly for videoconferencing and training – has driven much of the growth. Companies want to provide greater access to experts, particularly in the banking and insurance industries.

“This impacts the network and responsiveness and, within that, it is always about cost-management,” said Seddik. “Re-using space, and not assigning desks through using technology is helping them keep costs down.”

Citrix increased its commitment to the region about three years ago, investing in its channel programme, establishing an office in Dubai and investing in education. Today, it has 281 channel partners in the region.

“We are going to Saudi Arabia to respond to the strategic role we are playing for our customers,” said Johnny Karam, vice-president of the Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Citrix. “We are no longer ‘nice to have’, we are becoming critical to their operations.”

Much of the demand is from the financial and government sectors while interest from aviation and hospitals is also on the rise.

The office in Saudi Arabia is expected to open before the end of 2016, while the logistics for the Qatar office is under way. Entry to the Egyptian market will probably happen in 2017, according to Karam. 

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