In a press conference held in the Ministry of Telecommunications, Mohamed Choucair, Lebanese Minister of Telecommunications, launched the third edition of the Smartex exhibition specialized in the Knowledge and ICT sector, along with Nabil Itani, Director General of the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL); Imad Kreidieh, CEO of Ogero; and Elie Rizk, President of the Lebanese Exhibitions & Conferences Associations (LECA). In the conference was also present Naji Andraos, General director of installation and equipment at the Ministry of Telecommunications; Naji Abboud, Head of Owner Supervisory Board; the Minister’s consultant Nabil Yamout; Camille Moukarzel, President of the Professional Computer Association of Lebanon; and a crowd of heads and members of trade unions and companies involved in the exhibition.
Choucair started welcoming the audience in the Ministry of Telecommunications, “the first concerned party in the development of the knowledge and ICT sector.”
Choucair promised that public and private sectors will work as one to achieve all the goals for the success of this exhibition. “As a State and Ministry, we must put work guidelines and provide all the requirements for the development of this vital and strategic sector. I am confident that the Lebanese private sector is able to do the job with perfection, because it’s his field of strength,” Choucair added.
“The number of creative Lebanese people and companies in this field around the world cannot be counted on hands. We have huge potential that must be invested and exploited to develop our country, and it is the responsibility of both the public and private sectors to bring back Lebanon to its leading position in the rest of the world,” Choucair continues.
Choucair announced the launch of the third edition of SmartEx, organized by M.I.C.E. Lebanon on April 10-13, 2019 at Sea Side Arena, “which we consider to be one of the cornerstones of our project in the development of the ICT sector.”
“We want SmartEx to become a regional and international platform for this sector and to evolve and expand to attract the leading local and international companies and the latest technologies in this field in order to become a destination from near and far countries, just like GITEX Dubai and Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona.”
Choucair also saluted M.I.C.E.’s determination to launch this exhibition and organize it on a yearly basis “despite all the difficult conditions that the country has experienced” which shows a “message of faith in Lebanon.”
According to Choucair, “this sector is at the heart of the priorities of the government and Prime Minister Saad Hariri, so we will spare no efforts to provide all the elements of its development especially work as quickly as possible to deliver fiber optic network to the most remote house in Lebanon. We will also seek to provide, under the Intermediate Circular of Banque du Liban No. 331, all funding requirements and incentives for this vital and strategic sector.” He also called all officials and concerned persons to join efforts in order to provide all the necessary requirements for the development of the sector.
In his turn, Imad Kreidieh stressed that “one of the Ministry’s and Ogero’s priorities is to develop this sector in cooperation with the Lebanese private sector.” He also shed the light on “the great effort exerted by the Ministry of Telecommunications in cooperation with Ogero to establish a Lebanese pavilion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona with the participation of leading Lebanese companies and emerging companies with the aim of opening global doors to them.
“Before we expose these companies to foreign countries, it is necessary to introduce them in the Lebanese and Arab markets, especially as they have added value in the information technology field, and this is one of SmartEx’s main roles.”
He added, “the time has come to display these capabilities in Lebanon so that ICT companies work with them. Therefore, it is necessary to introduce to the Lebanese society and to the private sector as well as the public sector these companies that have achieved a quantum leap and introduce them as well in the Arab countries.” Kreidieh also highlighted the presence of “Ogero in the exhibition of Smartex, having the same spirit which is to support emerging companies.”
Speaking at the conference, Nabil Itani expressed IDAL’s pleasure to be part of the launching of SmartEx in its third edition. “This exhibition is a platform for innovation and it deals with the latest developments in the field of security, information systems, automation, technology and communications industries,” he said. “The ICT sector in Lebanon is a promising area for investment, and is ready for many reasons: the most important of which is the availability of specialized human resources in this field, which opens new and multiple work opportunities, especially in the sector of software production, equipment, Internet solutions, and other services and technological applications that have become key in the development of all production and services sectors.”
Itani added that “in 2007 and 2018, we have set ourselves to launch many initiatives that rely on young people and innovative ideas, such as the “Business Support Unit”. The biggest challenge for all economies today is finding effective ways and methods of supporting the business sector, keeping pace with the knowledge economy and successive technological developments in light of the technological development in the world, the fourth technological revolution and the reliance on artificial intelligence. Thus, it is necessary for us to keep up with this development by promoting growth in this sector, supporting it, and facilitating its work in all possible ways.”
Itani stressed that “IDAL, which considers this sector as one of its targets, is keeping abreast of the government's efforts to make Lebanon a point of reference in information technology in the region in light of its capabilities and infrastructure. There is no doubt that providing an infrastructure and an incubating environment contribute to enhancing the chances of transforming Lebanon into a technology base.”
In its intervention, Elie Rizk said, “It is true that we are gathered here today to launch the SmartEx exhibition in its third edition, but we, your excellency, are also gathered to congratulate you on your new position as Minister of Telecommunications, noting that this ministry is dealing with an important sector that will put Lebanon back with countries capable of competing in the sector of technology, information and communications. As you have repeatedly declared, we, in our turn, consider you as the representative of the private sector in the government, and we will always be by your side in this honorable journey.”
He added, “We are the sector of exhibitions and conferences, the sector in which you personally contributed to its establishment, just as you contributed to the establishment of many associations and trade unions, and made sure to restore it and support its companies and institutions. This sector is aspiring to rise again by benefiting from the prevailing political consensus, the ministerial statement and the vision of the government, the road map established by PM Saad Hariri to promote the economy and contribute to activating business tourism and the role of Lebanon in the region as a commercial center and a meeting point between the East and the West.” Rizk also thanked Choucair for his interest in SmartEx since its first edition to date.
“We are fully aware of Minister Choucair’s responsibilities, and all the companies present with us today are aware that in the recent years, they have suffered and resisted economically, and persevered because their faith in Lebanon is great,” Rizk continues. “The presence of Minister Choucair at the head of this ministry will enable it to modernize the infrastructures, secure the Fiber Optics and 5G service, so that it can attract international companies to consider Lebanon as a regional hub. SmartEx and all other exhibitions in Lebanon will be a platform not only for international companies but also for Arab and foreign visitors. This way, we can support companies operating in this sector and provide job opportunities for Lebanese youth, hence reducing brain drain.”