In a recent Barron’s article on Cisco titled "Getting the World WIred (sorry, sub required)" is an interesting comment from CEO John Chambers:
While these new technologies are giving Cisco’s current customers reason to upgrade, Cisco also is seeing growth of nearly 50% a year in its sale of networking systems in emerging markets like Saudi Arabia. That growth results from sales investments Cisco made in the past couple of years, just as it had done previously in India and China. A large sales force of Cisco representatives is now making the case for oil-rich nations to invest in networks as a way to improve health care in those countries and create high-value jobs. Today such countries represent 10% of Cisco’s sales, but Chambers thinks they will contribute 30% to 50% of future growth.
Given the amount of money the Middle East is printing from oil, the fact that the oil reserves will not last forever, and that the Middle East is investing heavily in infrastructure (I believe most of the world’s cranes are in China and the Middle East), I would not be surprised to see this area become a strong player in technology. Give it time, and Cisco is spot on for making the investment and bringing these countries state of the art infrastructure. It is not a coincidence that a couple of the fund’s portfolio companies have found fertile ground and great sales opportunities in the EMEA region.