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Saudi Arabia is aiming to open an international research centre dedicated to nano-manufacturing — the production of materials at the nanoscale.

The Center of Excellence in Nano–manufacturing Applications (CENA) is a joint venture between the King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology (KACST) and technology giant, Intel Corporation. The centre will be based in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and is expected to open in 2010.

CENA will be based at KACST — which will also provide funds for equipment — and Intel will steer research and provide expert guidance for students.

And in a move to tackle the brain drain in the Middle East, graduate students from the region will be able to apply for CENA sponsorships.

Mohammed Kuchari, associate professor at King Abdul Aziz University, says the centre will be good news for university graduates and Arab expatriates returning to the region because of the global economic crisis.

He adds that CENA will join a number of other new nanotechnology facilities in Saudi Arabia — several research centres and the country's first private company.

"It will complete the golden triangle for harnessing the combined power of education, research and private investment," he says.