I landed in Tunis after a rather uneventful flight via Istanbul on Sunday afternoon and met up with Tariq Farooq, Mike Ault and Jim Czuprynski at the hotel where we enjoyed magnificent views of the bays surrounding the suburb of La Marsa. Our local guide and ARABOUG’s business development manager in this area Hussem who showed us around and explained the origins and workings of the ARABOUG to us. This user group spans the whole region of the middle east and northern africa and represents about 300.000 professionals.
The actual events were being hosted by two universities in cities other than the capital of Tunis. On Monday, we were picked up in the wee hours and driven to Bizerte in the north. We set up camp in the auditorium of their technical university and quickly began our presentations with an introduction of the speakers, OTN and the ARABOUG. In addition to local Oracle professionals there were many interested students in the audience, about 150 people in total. What surprised us all was the amount of women in the audience, among 60-70% of the students were skilled and highly enthusiastic females. They were actually very surprised when we we told them that at our technical universities 10% is already considered very high.
Presentations were very well received and for me it was an extra pleasure to listen to the other speakers and their expertise. Mike started with a keynote overview of his 24 years of working with Oracle technology, Tariq gave a great overview of Exadata, its features and special things to consider while Jim captured the audience with tidbits of technical details, general advice and motivational pieces.
Mohamed Houri connected with us remotely from France and did a presentation on adaptive cursor sharing in french, the native language spoken in Tunisia along with arabic.
Ed Roske completed our small group on Tuesday when he came to Beja directly from the airport and despite the long-haul flying and jetlag just jumped up on stage and gave a great and lively definition, explanation and introduction to what Big Data really is and what type of questions can better be answered by non-relational database systems.
We enjoyed great hospitality by the local event organizers who went out of their way to shuttle us around between the different venues, taking in sites from beautiful beaches to gigantic ruins of the roman empire, feeding us and providing a base for many great conversations.
As much as we enjoyed Tunisua, the crew is also very much looking forward to the next two stops in Saudi Arabia, where we will meet Syed and finally Dubai where Joel Perez and Osama Mustafa will already be waiting for us.
PS: I am writing this at the airport in Cairo and my phone still has not seen an update for their DST change and is hence showing the wrong time. It took five smart IT guys and a lot of googling to determine that our next flight will be 2:30 instead of 1:30 as shown by our calendars and a number of websites.