There’s Nothing Quite Like GITEX Technology Week

By James Canham-Ash

This last week saw the 38th running of Dubai’s centre-piece international technology show. To be fair to Sheikh Mohamed, the show doesn’t do his brainchild justice. Rather, if you were to look at the breadth, scope and international flavour of exhibitors and technologies on show at GITEX this year, it would be more apt to describe it rather as a festival of technology.

The festival was hosted by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohamad Bin Al Rashid and his heir, the Crown Prince, as is the tradition. As the show began, the “Father of the Internet,” Sir Tim Berners Lee, started proceedings for the week with an impassioned keynote around content monopolization, fake news and online privacy. His ultimate solution to the current state of the World Wide Web – a full and complete reset of the Internet itself.

Dr. Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director General of Smart Dubai, laid out the office’s vision to build the world’s most advanced AI ecosystem in Dubai. Lorenzo Gonzales, chief of HPE, continued the “Smarter City” theme, highlighting a number of strategies, solutions and guidelines that HPE believes will be key to creating sustainable Smart Cities of the future, as it builds toward its 2070 vision. Huawei VP Joe So, however, took the theme to another level, future gazing into the technology required (including AI, 5G, Big Data & IoT), to power the “Smart Nation.”

Jeremy Balkin, Head of Innovation at HSBC, offered some sage words on the “millenialization” of everything and how this generation is fast coming of age in all aspects, from spending patterns to holding influential jobs.

It wouldn’t be GITEX without the weird and wonderful, and this year did not disappoint. From Panasonic’s automated living environment (a connected living pod) to Middle Eastern mobile network operator Etisalat’s announcement regarding a flying, self-drive taxi, no less, there was as much for the futurist as for the pragmatist.

There is a far more grounded side to GITEX, however, and the great and the good of the enterprise technology world also made its way to the Dubai International Trade Centre. Oracle, SAP, NetApp, Red Hat, IBM, HPE and Cisco, to name a few, all come together for this week. This year Commvault joined them with its largest stand ever commissioned, underlining that the Middle East is clearly a booming and significant market.

Recognising regional partners STME, StorIT and Fujitsu ME for their continued commitment and excellence to Commvault’s technology, an international team of Brits, Saudis, Lebanese, Jordanians and South Africans, for instance, also played host to press from all over the MEA region (including the show daily publication “GITEX Times”) – as well as a variety of local customers, including Ali Baba Cloud and Dubai Municipality, and hundreds of interested prospects from as far afield as the University of Wollongong in Australia.

GITEX 2018 has been a great a success for Commvault, as well as for creator Sheikh Mohamed, because it brings people together. Yes, the innovative technology and promises of flying taxis help breed this success.

Yet as we head toward a more automated, AI-driven future, we must not lose sight of the fact that the most important interactions are not the machine-to-machine conversations held between faceless devices in the IoT, or those between a server and its service desk. Those are ones we partake with one other.

It is for that reason that I look forward to next year’s festival, and I say to you all, “Viva GITEX!”