In a meeting that pulled several speakers (including the next session's speaker, Marwan Juma) out of the Arab Advisors' Media and Convergence conference, King Abdullah brought together a number of ICT big chiefs and gave 'em two weeks to put together a master plan for putting the Kingdom's ICT strategy back on track and 'revitalising' the ICT sector.
It's going to be an interesting two weeks if the session I moderated at the Forum yesterday was anything to go by. Golly, but when I set out to (as usual) 'cause trouble' I didn't realise quite how much trouble it was possible to cause by not doing anything at all. The heady combination of ISP, incumbent telco and regulator, along with a couple of other industry players from elsewhere in the region was quite something and we overran, with the consensus of the audience, by a good 30 minutes. Fur, almost literally, flew.
The conference has been great and shows that, finally, there are green shoots in the Kingdom's ICT market. Last year's ICT Forum was a huge disappointment, not for the quality of organisation but for the quality of innovation. Now we're starting to see a sense of purpose in the sector again and it's a blessed relief, to be honest.
HM's timing is, once again, impeccable. I'll be fascinated to see what's in that plan. Two weeks is a bit mean of him, but there's so much experience and dialogue garnered over the past seven years they should be able to get their heads together and come up with something sensible. The kick will be whether, this time around, the plans can be turned into action...