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Bahrain has announced plans for a centre to promote science, technology and innovation in the Middle East.

The facility, to open by early 2010, will eventually include laboratories, an international centre for research, a specialist academy as well as a branch of a United States-based university.

The agreement to create the centre was signed on 25 December, by the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Kuwait Finance and Investment Company.

Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa, chief executive of EDB, said the centre would embrace the specialisations demanded by the local and regional labour markets.

He said it would provide students with the engineering skills needed to serve the energy and key economic sectors, as well as offer much needed courses in the business and science disciplines.

Hassan Abdel Aal Moawad, a former president of Alexandria's Mubarak City for Scientific Research and Technology Applications in Egypt, said the development would help develop a technological workforce and produce science job opportunities which will reduce brain drain (See Brain drain threatens future of Arab science). He also said it would provide science education of international standards for those unable to travel to Europe and America, particularly after changes to US immigration rules (See US visa rules hit Asia and Middle East scientists).

"This will promote technological and scientific development and establish Bahrain — the winner of the 2006 title 'Middle East City of the Future' —  as the science and technology hub of the region," Moawad told SciDev.Net.

Bahrain had previously (6 November) launched a science and technology park focusing on new technologies, such as clean technology, renewable energy, environment, information and communications.