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People Meter: Open Systems International

Abed Halimah on how his firm is approaching the Middle East region

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Mr. Abed Halimah.
Mr. Abed Halimah.

Open Systems International director Abed Halimah on how his firm is approaching the Middle East region

Could you describe your company?
Our name is Open Systems International (OSI) and we are a partner of Al Mostajed Technologies, a part of the Global Energy group of companies.

We provide automation solutions to the utilities industry including electric utilities, oil and gas, water and transportation. We basically provide SCADA systems, data acquisition systems, energy management systems and distribution management systems. Our business covers all types of utilities from transmission to generation to distribution.

We are located in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States. That is where our headquarters are. We have offices around the world and we have several projects outside of the United States. Most of our business is in North America but we have started to branch out internationally.

We are very active in India, China, we have a few projects in Europe and we are now here in Dubai, looking to expand into the Middle East region.

The firm was founded in the early 1990s in an attempt to create real time automation solutions based on latest IT solutions, in the US and has grown from there.

What percentage of your business is in the Middle East?
Right now I would say less than 10% but we are shooting for this to be 20-25% pretty soon.

Al Mostajed and OSI in a joint venture have just signed a contract with FEWA to replace their SCADA energy management and distribution management systems in the northern Emirates of the UAE so we are confident that this is the first step towards that.

Are you looking to expand further into the Middle East region?
We actually started with a partnership with Global Energy and Al Mostajed Technologies and we are part of the Global Energy office in Jebel Ali. So that will be our starting point for projects in the UAE, the GCC and other places in the Middle East. The local presence and value added by our partners Al Mostajed will help us develop and deliver competitive solutions.

What challenges are you facing in the Middle East?
In the whole industry, this is a sector that has been very conservative and reluctant to change. These automation systems in the past have been very complex systems that are made by huge companies that are not really in line with standard software mentality.

We are the only vendor in this area in this market that is providing standard products, in the sense that instead of building customised systems for every utility we actually build one standard product for every utility.

So it becomes more in line with the IT industry where you can get upgrades every year, so a system never has to be replaced. So the main challenge is getting people to understand that philosophy.

What are your hopes for the next 12 months?
We hope to complete the FEWA project and make it a success for us and FEWA, make it a showcase for is. And basically start gaining market share very quickly, starting with the United Arab Emirates and then the rest of the GCC countries.

The 24/7 service provided locally from our Jebel Ali base would be an extremely important element which will be considered by the utilities in deciding future projects. We intend to have engineering, development, training, FAT etc. all based out of our United Arab Emirates facility based in Jebel Ali.

What do you think of the Middle East Electricity show?
We are very excited, this is the first time we have come to the show, that coupled with the FEWA contract has given us a good start.

This is our first show in the Middle East and hopefully we will be back here for many more shows.

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