Open Source in MENA

Open Source For Business Sectors

Business sectors are aware that, in all parts of the world, in various sizes and in all industrial fields, the many advantages offered by open source software for its institutions. The idea of ​​open source software business is mainly to achieve considerable savings in total cost of ownership, and the need to break the monopoly imposed by the licenses to users and freedom provided by the software.

The temptation in the philosophy of free software for the governments of developing countries is the power of free software in advancing development in the local economy on the sector of information technology, regardless of other features to reduce the economic cost for the acquisition of technical and respect for intellectual property rights in the state itself.

And open source software is also committed in the Middle East and North Africa to provide these same benefits to enterprises in all parts of the Middle East and North Africa with software solutions localized for different languages ​​and countries in the region.

MENA Software Market Nature

The issue of respect for intellectual property is considered a complex issue, which is usually considered an issue in favor of the major countries in the midst of obtaining concessions from developing countries and pressure them, in spite of the moral values ​​of respect for intellectual property but it comes at a heavy price, "People used to use the software and entertainment without thinking of payment", and this comes from many reasons including the careless of the large companies in reducing this issue to be able to put pressures on governments later to pay for it.

So, here comes a common idea, or a claim which always put in some technical Arab places, centered around the idea that without a culture of respect for the intellectual property and licenses, there will not be a respected software industry in the Arab world because the programs will be "stolen" (they means copied) and will be distributed for free of charge and this will cause corporates bankruptcy. Also another common question is "Software vendors drive 25% of their revenues from licenses. How can open source vendors survive without revenues?"

And here open source software (as a term which includes free software and open source ones which also fits the corporates) comes with a lot of benifits to reduce this issue, as open source software are usually licensed legally for use free of charge - reduces anxiety of the issue of non-respect of intellectual property, and this helps governments to save amounts of money up to millions of the value of licenses in improving public services and directing these funds to the development of projects that serve the community more usefully.

A lot of governments have relied on free software which saves millions of dollars for them. This money was to be paid for software owned by monopolistic companies. So the open source software licences fits the MENA software market nature.

Why Go Open Source


As the licences state the company must be committed to grant a lot of freedoms, these freedoms as stated earlier have a positive effect on the software not vice versa. As an example this freedoms makes the company less dependence on vendors of the technologies they use

Cost Savings

Using open source technologies reduces the upfront costs and have zero licensing fees.

  • Lower implementation costs
  • Lower costs associated with upgrading to new releases
  • Lower configuration costs
  • Lower support and maintenance cost

One might think, that the key advantage of open source software is its low cost of ownership, but surveys didn't show that! [ 1 ].


As a result of the low cost associated with open source technologies, the companies can bear these costs and make more profit.

No Need to Reinvent The Wheel

Building on open source technologies leads to a software that is well-implemented also from the company's perspective, easy to achieve, as there is no need to write it from scratch, so companies can build on top of the existing open source technologies that are available. And that makes the software to have a very solid foundation.

Higher Reliability and Security

Some people might think that when the source code is open the software may be in a risk, but the thing that happens in fact is that the software become more secure and hence reliable. That happens because when the source code is open to the public the project gets more development and hence become more secure.

Added Community Support

If the software shares the common roots with open source, the companies can obtain support and upgrades from the open source community or purchase professional-quality support from a range of vendors in the community. Thus, the risks of becoming "stranded" due to the loss of vendor support or key employees are significantly reduced with open source.

Easier to Customize

Open source offers the user (the user here means whether the company that uses and/or reproduces the open source technology or the end user) the control of custom software. With the source code in hand, the user can customize his software to fit his needs and the nature of his work.

No Discontinuity

Because there is no central company that produces the open source technology, it will remain and no one can stop it from continuing its development. In contrast to closed source companies that can stop supporting their products in any time.

Open Standards

Open source softwares and technologies leads to open standards. Open standards means that the technology or the software is publicly available to make use of it, and this leads to a make the technologies more consistent.

Rapid Growth of Open Source

The growth of the number of open source projects is very large and also the growth in the development of each specific project, thats because the model in which open source use to develop.

Software Market is not Vegetables Market

In the most if not all of the closed source companies, the general culture is that the software is regarded as a product and this is not a good model especially in MENA, as a software is a mental work that must be available for all people. Software is not like vegetables that you must purchase to make use of also software needs to be maintained and developed constantly, so the software market must not be like vegetables market. In MENA there are a lot of companies that think that it's a good idea to use the vegetables model and as a result of that they will gain a lot of money, but that is totally wrong as they provide a very bad software that not focues on other important things than delivering a product like supporting.

Open Source Business Models and Stratigies

The business model here describes what kind of revenue model was chosen for the software. Options in the business model include training, services, integration, custom development, subscription models, “Commercial Off The Shelve” (COTS), “Software as a Service” (SaaS) and more. The company need to choose what business model fits it.

The figure shows the growth of the number of open source projects.

Support and Training in Native Arabic

Any company want to produce a software and put it in MENA market needs to localize its software in Arabic.

Governments That Depends on Open Source Softwares

As examples from the global world, there are a lot of governments and large organizations that make use of GNU/Linux and a lot more open source softwares and customized them to fit its needs [ 2 ]

  • Malaysia [ 3 ]

  • India [ 4 ]

  • Brazil [ 5 ]

  • Russia [ 6 ]

Open Source Companies in MENA and Their Work


[1] Key Advantage of Open Source is Not Cost Savings

[2] 50 Places Linux is Running That You Might Not Expect

[3] FOSS Malaysian official website

[4] Linux a BIG hit in India

[5] Russia Working on a National OS Linux at the End of its life

Author: Islam Wazery

Date: 28-04-2011

EgyptTeam/Meetings/Articles/Open Source in MENA (last edited 2011-04-30 17:08:23 by al-wazery)