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Qatar ban scuppers Infor plans to open Doha office

Infor has puts its Qatar plans on hold amid GCC political crisis

Infor is waiting to see how the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) diplomatic crisis will play out before it opens an office in Doha, Qatar.

The enterprise software company, which launched its foray into the Middle East in July 2016, now has five offices across the region and has amassed some 1,700 customers.

“We are trying hard to service our customers in Doha,” said Tarik Taman, head of Infor’s India, Middle East and Africa region. “We’re waiting six to eight months to see what happens.”

The breakdown in the diplomatic relationship between Qatar and four members of the GCC, including Saudi Arabia and UAE as well as Egypt and the Maldives, began earlier this year. The countries have cut off all borders, flights and trade with the gas-rich country, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism. The impact on the economy of the region has yet to be determined, but off the record many companies have declared huge losses.

Taman, who is based in Dubai, said the cost of travel to Doha has risen from $400 per flight to $3000 as a result, pushing up company expenses. Many companies are reluctant to speak on the record regarding the issue, with perceived support for Qatar incurring fines of no less than Dh 500,000 and a jail term of three to 15 years in the UAE.

For now, Infor is focusing on its main markets in the region, namely Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Adoption of cloud computing has been steadily on the rise in the Middle East with research from Markets and Markets suggesting that the cloud applications market is set to almost triple to $2.4bn in 2020 from $888m in 2015.

“Within Saudi, their investment patterns for automation, innovation and robotics, there are huge waves of investment in tech,” said Taman. “This is a time when the government is encouraging multinationals to bring manufacturing to Saudi.”

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Infor currently has a 10% market share in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) market across India, Middle East and Africa (IMEA).

“Across IMEA, we have the lowest market share [compared to competitors],” said Taman. “We created this region to gain double digit market share. The Middle East represents not only a very large market for us, but the highest market capture anywhere in the world.”

It lists Zahid Tractor, Arabian Centers and Al Hokair Industries among its customers and two acquisitions, Accentia in Egypt and Predictix in Tunisia have fuelled its rapid growth. The team for the IMEA region began with 10 employees last year and it now has 230 workers, with a plan to hire 70 more within the next few months.  

“Our growth last year was 115% year on year, and 120% is this year’s goal in terms of dollar revenue,” said Taman.

It is focusing on the healthcare sector in the region, as well as expansion further into the North African market, particularly Morocco, to fuel this growth.

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