ICTs and microelectronics get boost in UAE

Circuit boards: The academy will offer courses in microelectronics and semiconductor technology Copyright: Wikipedia

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The United Arab Emirates’s (UAE) high-tech sector got a double boost last month with the creation of a multi-million dollar fund for information and communication technology (ICT) development, and news that a microelectronics training academy will open in November.

The announcements came in the same week that the UAE was ranked highest among developing countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2005 technology index.

The ICT fund will be used to support training, research and development, and technology transfer to the UAE. It will also sponsor workshops and conferences about ICTs.

The money will come mainly from a one per cent levy on the annual income of UAE telecom operators, which is expected to exceed US$27 million.

According to the 28 September edition of the Alittihad newspaper, the UAE’s Supreme Committee for the Supervision of the Telecommunications Sector has approved the ICT fund.

“This is the first initiative of its kind in the Middle East,” Mohammad Nasser Al Ganem, director-general of UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority told the paper. “It will give us the opportunity to partner with educational institutions both for applied research and for developing technical talent here in the UAE.”

Two days earlier, a Dubai-based technology park called Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) announced that a microelectronics training academy will open next month. It is intended to develop a skilled technical workforce in the UAE and the wider region.

Jihad Mohaidat, DSO’s senior education and training manager, told SciDev.Net that the academy will provide intensive “hands-on” courses and seminars in microelectronics and semiconductor technology.

The academy will provide certified training programmes for people starting their careers as well as those who want to keep up to date with their field, he said.

Last month, the UAE was ranked 25th of 104 countries — higher than any other developing country — in the World Economic Forum’s 2005 index of ‘technological readiness’.

The forum considers technology, along with the state of a country’s public institutions and its macroeconomic environment, as three pillars of economic development in its annual Global Competitiveness Report, released on 29 September.