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Public Internet cafes booming in UAE

United Arab Emirates: Tuesday, August 13 - 2002 @ 12:27

July 2002 has seen the biggest monthly increase of new cafes to date, with a total of 28 new cafes opening and 290 new PCs installed.

This brings the number of cafes in the UAE to 191, of which 98 have sprung up in 2002 alone. To date, 2,563 Internet enabled PCs are installed in the cafes, and demand is increasing every week. In the last seven months alone, 1,252 new PCs have been added, enabling more of the community to gain access to the inherent benefits offered on the World Wide Web.

“We are seeing an unprecedented demand for Internet surfing centres throughout the UAE, commented Maroua Naim, General Manager, EIM. ”There is a new Internet Cafe community arising in the country that is not only connecting people to the Internet, but also bringing communities together on common ground. Every day thousands of people use the cafes to search for information and contact friends and family.”

The cafes were first introduced to the UAE in September 1996, and have since been attracting a lot of attention. The country’s large expatriate community, who use the Internet to communicate with friends and family from their home country, is thought to have amplified the surge in demand.

Mazhar Ali Chawla, a Managing Director of his own Internet café and supplier of computers and software to other Internet cafes in the UAE through his ‘American Systems’ company, said, “We are seeing tremendous demand this year from Internet cafes who require an increasing number of computers for their premises. American

Systems now supplies a total of 105 PCs to surfing centres and we are in discussions with many others who are due to receive their license shortly.”

Essentially, the cafes supply an area with PC terminals connected to the Internet that the general public are able to use. For a nominal hourly fee, users are able to access the Internet’s vast resources as they choose.

The centres are strategically placed throughout the UAE, allowing access in highly populated areas. Dubai and Abu Dhabi have seen the most demand for the centres, with 119 in Dubai and 29 in Abu Dhabi. Al Ain and Sharjah are also seeing an increase, with 13 and 8 respectively.

EIM has been concentrating its efforts on providing a high level of service to the café owners, driving down prices where possible and ensuring technical problems are resolved in the shortest possible time frame.

“We aim to keep encouraging the growth of Internet Cafes throughout the country to bring the Internet closer to the community,” added Naim. “Evidently, there is high demand for these resources among the community and we have been working hard to ensure that demand does not outstrip supply. We expect to see persistent expansion over the coming months that will continue to exceed our growth forecasts”

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Tuesday, August 13- 2002 @ 12:27 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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