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Google Goes To The Middle East

Doug Caverly
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-12-04

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Google CEO Eric Schmidt spoke recently at the Arab Strategy Forum, and he made some thought-provoking predictions about the region's future. "The next story in the development of the Arab world," Schmidt said, "will be the unleashing of the power of the Arab entrepreneur."

"Huge new non-oil businesses can be created here that are global and export-oriented," he continued, according to Jim Krane. Schmidt believed that the Arab world could use the Internet to branch out, although the region must also address a few problems.

"This region has an abundance of assets, a young population, fast growing economies, and a unique strategic geographical location, but still faces poverty in some parts, high illiteracy rates and a sub-par entrepreneurial spirit," Schmidt said, as quoted in a piece by Dylan Bowman.

But the Middle East may not have to worry as much about those problems as one other issue. While at the Dubai conference, Schmidt said, "The most important thing is to have access to risk capital. Markets are in place, but you need money pools for people who just have a brilliant idea."

The Google CEO expects that as the Arab world begins to "catch up," it will catch up in a big way. TradeArabia reported on yet another section of Schmidt's talk. "Today, this region of 290 million people has only 26 million Internet users. These are expected to grow to 50 million by 2009 making the Arab world a sizeable market," Schmidt said.

Given that so many Americans have a negative perception of the Middle East, it's interesting to see Schmidt being so optimistic. The Google CEO is likely to stay involved - he was actually a co-chairman at the forum.

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