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b>Tell us about your role within Cisco, Fahad.

I’m the regional senior marketing manager for Cisco in the Gulf/UAE/Saudi/Pakistan. I’m responsible for devising strategies for integrated marketing and brand awareness programs to promote Cisco’s positioning in the GCC and Pakistan. My team also develops and executes the region’s marketing strategy, acting as the “safeguard” of Cisco’s brand to drive growth and awareness throughout the region.

What is Cisco Networkers?

Cisco Networkers conferences are unique and compelling forums that provide information and communications technology (ICT) professionals with in-depth technical demonstrations, networking opportunities and glimpses of current and future trends. The events offer the perfect ICT educational and networking opportunity to enhance business growth. The global theme for Cisco Networkers 2010 is ‘Knowledge Is Power.’

There are currently over 10 Cisco Networkers events, spanning the globe, that take place every year, including those in the U.S., Spain, Mexico, Argentina and Australia.

Cisco Networkers Bahrain 2010, which will take place at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, from 28 to 31 March 2010, heralds the first time that the industry-accredited networking forum will be held in the Middle East.

Why is Networkers Bahrain a key event for the Middle East?

Networkers Bahrain 2010 is extremely significant for both Cisco and the Middle East region. It represents a key milestone for Cisco in terms of furthering our commitment and ongoing investment in the Middle East. While for the Middle East region overall, Networkers will demonstrate how innovative and successful technology ‘blueprints’ can be replicated in other regions, irrespective of size or business sector.

Networkers Bahrain 2010 has been developed in collaboration with the government of Bahrain and with the support of Crown Prince His Highness Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa.

In summary, Networkers Bahrain is the perfect ICT education and networking opportunity, bringing together business people who wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to meet outside of Networkers, but who can positively influence and enhance each others’ business operations. It is networking personified – a Human Network, where people can collaborate and realise the event theme, ‘Knowledge is power’.

Why did Cisco select Bahrain for its first ever Networkers Forum in the Middle East?

The Kingdom of Bahrain is a strategic country for Cisco in the Gulf region, and Cisco has a well developed relationship with the government, who collaborated on the development of Networkers Bahrain.

As a strong financial centre with excellent transport links, a robust regulatory framework and a rich culture, it is an ideal destination to host Networkers. Cisco already enjoys a strong relationship with the Bahraini government and recently opened its latest Middle East office at the Bahrain Financial Harbor.

Equally, Bahrain’s progressive telecommunications regulatory environment is encouraging the nation – and its citizens – to harness the power of the network to strengthen Bahrain’s global competitiveness and help maximise the development of its national talent.

Bahrain also represents a hub for Cisco's own ICT services. Located in the country is an Internet data centre that supports the delivery of multiple technologies to offices in the region. In fact, Cisco has already chosen to locate its IT hub for the Gulf Cooperation Countries in Manama.

Why is Networkers only just coming to the Middle East and why should people attend given the current economic conditions?

The GCC region is currently undergoing a powerful transformation: moving from an oil-based economy to a service-based economy. Networking technology is at the very core of that transformation. Aligned to the GCC’s ‘three pillars’ – development of public private partnerships, economic diversification and improved governance – Cisco is a strategic contributor in Gulf transformation and a trusted business and technology advisor.

Consequently, businesses and consumers are becoming ‘Networked ready’ and broadband take-up is rapidly increasing to meet this shift. Attending Networkers Bahrain is the next best step to take in this direction.

Networkers Bahrain will showcase technologies which will enable organisations to leverage return on investment (ROI) and optimise their IT resources.

How often does a Cisco Networkers event happen? How many visitors is Cisco expecting this year at Networkers Bahrain?

The frequency of a Cisco Networkers event depends upon the region; some events are annual for specific regions. For Networkers Bahrain 2010, we are expecting around 1,800 visitors from Europe, Africa and Asia, as well as the Middle East. The delegates breakdown will include Cisco customers and partners and of course, analysts and members of the press.

What makes Cisco Networkers events different from similar forums held by other companies in the ICT sector?

Industry-accreditation and Cisco certification is the key differentiator here. By attending Networkers Bahrain, delegates have the opportunity to earn the certifications that will demonstrate their skill and expertise to current and future employers. For instance, achieving Cisco certification earns membership within the ranks of the most highly skilled network professionals in the industry and takes careers to the next level.

Onsite written exams at Networkers include the entry level CCENT, the Cisco Professional Certifications CCNP series, and Cisco Expert Certifications (CCIE), as well as specialist certifications. Delegates can find the full list of Networkers accreditations by visiting www.ciscolearningnetwork.com

Aside from certification, Cisco Networkers Bahrain 2010 is not just one conference but five unique programs running in parallel, over three days. Tailored to the different technology needs of the attendees, they comprise:

• The main Networkers technical conference, targeted at roughly 1800 attendees, which will deliver innovation technology content covering Cisco’s solutions and architectures.

• A chief information officer (CIO) & IT executive symposium targeted at CIOs and IT leaders

• An IT ‘insight’ conference for approximately 150 IT managers and business decision makers.

• A dedicated press and analyst event targeted at approximately 40 key media and industry analysts.

• An awards ceremony recognising outstanding achievements that embrace innovation in business and technology.

In a challenging economic climate, value is more important than ever. Cisco Networkers Bahrain offers the education that businesses – and individuals – need to make a more valuable resource in their workplaces, by making those workplaces more efficient and effective.

What does it cost to attend a Cisco Networkers Event? How does this compare with other Cisco Networkers Events?

The standard registration for the full duration of Networkers Bahrain costs $1,500. Groups, public sectors and educational organisations can take advantage of different pricing discount structures from 5 to 50 delegates respectively .

What new technologies are we likely to see and experience this year in Bahrain?

Cisco’s Bahrain Networkers team is working hard to establish the most interesting mix of integrated and live demonstrations; aiming to provide ideas, inspiration and education at the same time. Highlights include Cisco integrated Tele-Medicine, which offers exciting and practical solutions to bring healthcare to areas that need it the most. Then in the area of security, delegates can learn how Cisco's Self-Defending Network security strategy allows organisations to streamline IT Risk Management by reducing security and compliance risk, enforcing business policies and protecting critical assets – all while decreasing the IT administrative burden and reducing total cost of ownership.

Live demonstrations of all these technologies will take place in the World of Solutions and the BIC network will be a State of the Art Cisco Powered design, which will function as the foundation for all demonstrations. This is in addition to an engaging keynote program encompassing a unique holographic Cisco TelePresence experience incorporating senior Cisco executive speakers and high-level government guest speakers.

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