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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s IT industry has been represented by 74 companies and 800 delegates at LEAP 2024 in Riyadh, said a press release.

This was stated by Muhammad Zohaib Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA).

There are 172,000 participants from 183 countries in this year’s mega, global event; which is rightfully hyped as the Digital Davos, he added.

The nerve center of the Pakistani IT industry at LEAP 2024 is the Pakistan Pavilion – which was inaugurated by Ahmed Farooq, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Saudi Arabia and chairman P@SHA.

The country pavilion was visited by representatives of major IT &ITeS importing companies from the world over and in diverse verticals. Notably, the visitors included top governmental organizations in tech sector from GCC countries as well.

P@SHA – in collaboration with Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) and Pak Embassy in Riyadh – has organized a high-profile Saudi-Pak Tech Forum. Whereas, Deemah Alyahya, Secretary General of the all-powerful Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) was Chief Guest at the event. It was an honor for Pakistan’s IT industry to have her amongst us and attract the attention of the member states of DCO, Zohaib Khan added.

Zohaib Khan apprised that last year LEAP 2023 generated a whopping $9 billion in IT business and Pakistani companies also generated leads worth upwards of $100 million on the sidelines in B2B matchmaking – and, this year, we are anticipating bigger and loftier outcomes for the country.

Speaking at the Saudi–Pak tech forum, Aisha Moriani, CEO PSEB, reiterated the need for both nations to collaborate and to build upon the success of Pakistani companies at LEAP 2023. The success lies in incremental growth and follow-up, she added.

Zohaib Khan explained that IT, ITeS and other tech companies must realize that recent increase in IT exports to KSA can be a game-changer for the country’s economy – if we can continue with the momentum and secure business in major verticals in the IT realm out of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 mega projects. Saudi Arabia is now officially one of the most robust and rapidly expanding economies of the world.

Zohaib Khan stressed that Pakistan views LEAP 2024 as a timely opportunity to showcase its IT/ITeS companies on the international trade platform and expand business in the Middle East market, particularly in Saudi Arabia, which is undergoing transformation with its Vision 2030. Saudi Arabia, boasting the largest economy in the Middle East; and, ranking among the top twenty globally, holds a significant share in the tech industry.

Elaborating upon Pakistan’s IT industry policy, Zohaib Khan, highlighted that Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) has made IT as one of their focus areas for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) – and, a number of differentiating incentives are on offer:

(i) thriving IT infrastructure and ecosystem including 40+ Software Technology Parks and Special Technology Zones (STZs)

(ii) Pakistan is exporting IT services to over 170 countries

(iii) PSEB supports 100 percent equity ownership for IT companies

(iv) 100 percent repatriation of capital and dividends is allowed

(v) income tax credits offered for IT exports to foreign investors

(vi) Pakistan is one of the top 5 English speaking countries

(vii) Second largest online-labor-providing country in the world in software development

Zohaib Khan noted that Pakistan's strategic location positions it as a gateway to Central Asia; making it an optimal choice for establishing a digital corridor providing access to Middle Eastern, African and Asian markets. With an impressive network of 6+ marine cables; ensuring advanced connectivity, coupled with a favourable time zone advantage, Pakistan enhances operational efficiency with nearly equal time differences to both London and Sydney.

Delegations of SIFC, MoITT, PSEB, Tech Destination Pakistan, Pak Embassy in Riyadh, HBL, Invest Saudi, Aion, Revival Lab and Infotech Group were a pivotal part of Saudi – Pak Tech Forum and Pakistan Pavilion.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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