On the occasion of the designation of Riyadh as Capital of Arab Culture for the year 2000, Deputy Governor of Riyadh Province Prince Sattam Bin Abdul Aziz will inaugurate tomorrow an electronic book fair organized by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies under the title 'Data technology in the service of scientific research'. The fair, designed to shed light on electronic publication, has invited Arab and international publishing houses to display their products. On the fringes of the show there will be seminars and lectures, with a special gallery for women where they will be able to participate through closed-circuit television.
Meanwhile, it was announced yesterday that a major international conference with the aim of formulating a sound e-business vision for member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will open in the United Arab Emirates on April 24. The three-day event, the first of its kind, is being organized jointly by the Federation of GCC Chambers of Commerce, the Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting, and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The event is timely, in view of the fact that global revenues from Internet use, currently at U.S. $350 million, are expected to soar to $1.3 trillion by 2003 and $7.2 trillion by 2004. By 2002, almost 70 percent of the leading international companies will be using e-commerce, and it has been predicted that by then, e-business in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia will grow from the current $100 million per year to $1 billion. The banking sector, which currently does five per cent of its business on the Internet, is expected to see this reach a level of 40 percent by 2010.