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NewsForge: Saudi Arabia: Linux Advocates in White Robes

Jan 13, 2004, 13:00 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robin Miller)

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"The U.S. popular image of Saudi Arabia has gone downhill over the last 50 years, from one of romantic horsemen riding free over the desert to one of oil-bloated sheiks who use their wealth to support terrorists. The reality here is, of course, as different from that stereotype image as the reality of the U.S. is from the stereotype the rest of the world gets from TV. You never see mainstream TV programs talking about U.S. Linux developers, for example. You never see Arabian Linux developers on TV, either, but they are here, wearing white robes and headdresses, proudly showing off their new (GPL) software to visitors, lobbying the government to adopt more Linux, and working to build businesses based on open source.

"I'm typing this in the Riyadh Sheraton. I am here primarily to speak at a National IT Plan conference, as a guest of the Saudi Linux Users Group and the Saudi Computer Society. I will be speaking about how to make money with open source and free software, a popular topic in a country whose de facto ruler, Prince Abdullah, has decreed that the IT sector will become an important economic factor within the next decade..."

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