ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, January 27 /PRNewswire/ --

- New research shows Microsoft-related businesses make more than US$15 for every US$1 Microsoft earns.

Today at the Government Leaders Forum-Arabia in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates highlighted the transformative power of education and the critical role public-private partnerships and information and communication technology (ICT) play to create a strong, vibrant economy across the region. During his keynote address, Gates announced a partnership with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Foundation to enhance research and knowledge creation in the Arab world; the results of a new study by IDC underscoring the impact of ICT on the region's economy; and a renewed five-year commitment to the Partners in Learning programme that aims to significantly expand its impact worldwide, reaching up to three times as many students, teachers and schools.

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"Technology has touched millions of lives and played a significant role in fostering economic development across the region," Gates said. "Microsoft's goal is to work in close partnership with governments and partner organisations to help them use technology to accelerate social and economic development. This Government Leaders Forum is a great opportunity for leaders from the public and private sectors to discuss the critical issues they face and create a road map for moving forward together."

Research Underscoring Impact of Information Technology on Arab Region's Economy

In the next four years, the region's IT sector (in this case comprising Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and UAE) will generate more than 210,000 new jobs and account for the creation of more than 4,100 new IT companies, according to a new study by IDC. The research highlighted that in 2007 Microsoft-related activities were responsible for 57 per cent of the region's IT employment.

"Today, technology is a key factor for economic, social and technological progress, and for the sustainability of economies all over the world," said Jyoti Lalchandani, vice president and regional managing director, IDC Middle East and Africa. "The IDC research underscores what we've always known to be true, that software provides a disproportionate contribution to a vibrant IT economy. It also shows the significant contribution made by the Microsoft ecosystem, especially in the creation of local businesses and local jobs."

The research, which was commissioned by Microsoft, examined the IT industry's impact on local job creation, company formation and tax revenues in 82 countries, representing 99.5 per cent of the total technology spending worldwide. IDC found that the Microsoft ecosystem -- defined as people working at IT companies and IT professionals who create, sell or distribute products that run on Microsoft platforms -- plays a key role in driving the IT industry's overall contribution to job growth and economic development.

The study also found that Microsoft serves as an economic catalyst in every country in which it operates. The revenues earned by companies working with Microsoft far exceed the revenues earned by Microsoft itself. The research found that for every US$1 that Microsoft earns in 2007, companies working with Microsoft in the region will earn US$15.56. In addition, in 2007 Microsoft's ecosystem in the region generated more than US$7.9 billion in revenues, and in 2008 will invest US$1.3 billion in research development, marketing, sales and support in local economies.

Public Private Partnerships Transform Education and Skills Training

To sustain this economic growth, a high-quality education is fundamental to the social and economic prosperity of the region. Microsoft is deeply committed to collaborating with education partners around the world to provide relevant, high-quality learning experiences that enable students and teachers to achieve their full potential.

Announcing a renewed commitment over the next five years to Partners in Learning, Microsoft is continuing to provide educators and partners with resources and training that can best complement classroom technology and allow students to reach their full potential. The goal of Partners in Learning is to leverage the transformative power of software to create innovative educational experiences that bring students and teachers closer worldwide. Since its launch in 2003, Partners in Learning has touched the lives of more than 90 million students, teachers, and education policymakers in 101 countries. Microsoft is aiming to triple the impact of Partners in Learning, representing a new, five-year US$235.5 million (US) investment, which will bring the company's total 10-year investment in Partners in Learning to nearly US$500 million.

Students, teachers, educators and governments already impacted by Microsoft's commitment to the Partners in Learning programme can be found across the Arab world. One such teacher is Maha Al Shakhshir, a biology teacher from Jordan's Jellol Secondary School in the Middle Bedouin District and a past recipient of the Secondary School Content award at a Partners in Learning Innovative Teachers Forum (ITF). She has attended several regional and global ITF events in recent years and says the opportunity to collaborate with teachers globally has a positive impact on her time in the classroom.

"Teachers all over the world face the same challenges as I do each day. Our role as educators is to prepare our students for the outside world," Shakhshir said. "Integrating the power of technology with our curriculum can improve the quality of life and economic vitality of our community by preparing our students for the future."

Other successful regional Partners in Learning programmes include Bahrain's Ministry of Education, which partnered with Microsoft to train teachers in ICT skills to use their new technology knowledge to teach their students. To date 1,000 teachers have been trained in ICT skills, in turn training a further 10,000 teachers.

Similarly, Egypt's Ministry of Education and Microsoft partnered to train more than 50,000 teachers. In Qatar, Al-Bayan Educational Complex for Girls was a founding member in Microsoft's Innovative Schools two-year programme with the goal of transforming the school into a model for successful 21st-century education. This programme will equip girls with the skills they need to participate successfully in Qatar's work force and continue to increase the number of women making a significant contribution to the country's growth as a knowledge economy.

Additional Emphasis on Supporting Education

The region has established a variety of programmes and partnerships to transform education and to satisfy the diverse needs of everyone involved in education -- from policymakers and ministries of education to university administrators, teachers, students and their parents. Today's highlights include the following:

-- A strategic partnership between the Mohammed Bin Rashid Foundation and Microsoft to enhance research, knowledge creation and the infrastructure of higher education across the Arab world. Microsoft will support the foundation by designing and implementing a state-of- the-art technology platform in the Arab world establishing a collaborative research and knowledge creation environment. The platform will make it easy for professors, researchers and academic institutions to communicate with each other and exchange research and other knowledge. -- A special training programme organised by Microsoft, with the cooperation of the Qatar government's Internal Security Force, focused on developing the IT skills and ambitions of the female work force. Female graduates will be able to complete the course in four months, on a full-time basis. Employees who complete their courses will receive certification, which ultimately enables them to become certified developers. -- An agreement between Dr Rawiyah bint Saud Al Busaidiyah, minister for Higher Education, and Dr Salim Sultan Al Ruzaiqi, chief executive officer of Oman's Information Technology Authority, and Microsoft to provide advanced online services to 650,000 high-school students across Oman. As part of the live@edu initiative, the new solution will provide a free e-mail service, messaging services, 5 GB of storage and up to 1 GB of password-protected online storage space, automatic e-mail reply, and IP address white listing. -- A partnership between Dubai Cares and Microsoft to establish community-based e-learning hubs to provide students and teachers with access to technology and help develop their knowledge and skills for the 21st-century workplace. The goal of the digital initiative includes significantly raising the level of ICT literacy among parents and school staff in close collaboration with educational organisations and partners. ­- An agreement has been signed between the public universities in Jordan under the Jordanian Universities Network (JUNet) and Microsoft to deploy Windows Live@edu as an e-mail service for all of its students, encompassing 10 universities and 150,000 students. Each student will have a mailbox of 5GB available to them, which will be active after graduation to help them stay connected with colleagues and fellow alumni. Live@edu is particularly appealing both to the universities and the students because it is easy to use and works with devices and technologies already familiar to students.

Technology Working for Governments

Local and regional governments have a strong need to collaborate and share their intellectual property and best practices with one another. However, the common barriers include a lack of government workers with the necessary IT skills for successful e-government development and project management, low PC ownership and usage, inadequate IT infrastructure, funding shortages and lack of proper legislative frameworks. Microsoft believes technology can help meet these challenges, and achieve greater operational efficiency through greater collaboration and innovation.

The Dubai School of Government (DSG), a research and teaching institution focusing on public policy in the Arab world, has taken the lead in overcoming these barriers. To share resources and reduce time and costs through collaboration, DSG worked with Microsoft to adopt the Solutions Sharing Network (SSN) programme. The global programme helped create a virtual community that leveraged an e-government portal to facilitate the sharing of best practices and knowledge.

"It [the portal] will serve as a platform for more effective communication among nations and regional government leaders, which will ultimately result in an enhanced and sustained e-governance of the Arab world," said HE Nabil Ali Alyousuf, executive president of the DSG. "We hope the upgraded portal will enrich regional academic research on e-government, tackle e-governance barriers faced by Arab countries, and empower decision-makers in the region to develop e-government initiatives supporting reform and good governance."

Additional information on today's announcements is available on Microsoft's EMEA Press Centre website at http://www.microsoft.com/emea/presscentre.

About IDC Economic Impact Study Methodology

This study applies IDC's Economic Impact Model, which assesses the IT industry's impact on job creation, company formation, local IT spending, and tax revenues in addition to assessing Microsoft's partner ecosystem. The study's spending figures accounted for hardware, software, services and data networking expenditures by consumers, businesses, governments and educational institutions within each country. Tax revenue figures were based on potential VAT or sales tax revenues from the sale of hardware, software, or services, as well as business and personal income taxes and social taxes. IT employment included the number of people employed (full-time equivalent) in hardware, software, services or channel firms, and those individuals managing IT resources in an IT-using organisation (eg, programmers, help desk, IT managers). All data was cross-checked against published information and census data available from government sources and validated by local government officials. For information about how to obtain a copy of this report please visit http://www.microsoft.com/About/CorporateCitizenship/Citizenship/Economic...

About Partners in Learning

Partners in Learning is a global initiative that builds partnerships with governments and schools in an effort to help teachers better integrate technology throughout the learning process, so they and their students are empowered to excel. To date, Partners in Learning has been successful because of the thousands of dedicated and passionate teachers, school leaders, and education policymakers who have embraced the programme and have been willing to take action toward real change, in the culture of their schools and the way children learn. Through this initiative, Microsoft works with government leaders and ministries of education to offer a spectrum of dynamic educational resources - including tools, programmes and practices - which help educators and students develop and share knowledge and practices, extending learning opportunities and enabling students and teachers to achieve their academic goals. More information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/education/partnersinlearning.mspx.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.

About Microsoft EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa)

Microsoft has operated in EMEA since 1982. In the region Microsoft employs more than 16,000 people in over 64 subsidiaries, delivering products and services in more than 139 countries and territories.

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