& Technology Park unveils roadmap for Middle East
Qatar is championing industry-based R&D in its drive to
establish a knowledge economy in the Middle East.
AME, Tuesday, January 31 - 2006
Speaking at the 'Enriching the Middle East's Economic
Future' conference in Doha yesterday, Qatar Science &
Technology Park laid out its strategy of attracting
companies to Qatar to develop their technology, and
helping entrepreneurs to launch new technology
Addressing the conference President Bill Clinton
stressed the importance of economic development in the
Middle East. 'If you look at Weill Cornell, Texas A&M
and Georgetown, you have the building blocks of a
diversified economy' he said, referring to the
universities at Qatar Foundation in Doha.
Enriching the Middle East's Economic Future, organised
by Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UCLA
Burkle Center for International Relations, focuses on
strategies for economic development in the Middle East.
Ben Figgis, Marketing Manager of Qatar Science &
Technology Park, explained that historically there has
been little R&D or technology entrepreneurship in the
Arabian Gulf, with the economy being dominated by big
petroleum projects and state-owned enterprises.
Governments in the region have recently started to look
for ways to diversify beyond oil and create high-skill
jobs. Qatar's approach has been to invest deeply in
education and science, and at the same time encourage
the private sector to play a bigger role.
'We're taking a two-pronged approach at Qatar Science &
Technology Park' explained Figgis. 'First, we're
building an attractive environment and incentives for
companies to develop their technology in Qatar. Second,
we're setting up a business incubator to help technology
start-ups get off the ground.'
Technology development is a proven tool for spurring
economic growth. Research by ANGLE, the international
consulting and venturing firm appointed to manage Qatar
Science & Technology Park, shows that start-up companies
at UK science parks launch nearly twice as many new
products, and apply for almost twice as many patents, as
those located elsewhere.
Companies are being attracted to the science park by
free-trade zone incentives such as tax breaks and full
ownership rights, as well as links with universities. As
part of the renowned Qatar Foundation, its neighbours
include campuses of Carnegie Mellon, Weill Cornell,
Georgetown and Texas A&M universities, plus a planned
billion-dollar teaching and research hospital. Qatar
Science & Technology Park is designed to link the
research efforts of these institutes with industry, and
to provide jobs for their growing pipeline of students.
'It's a long term vision, but in a few years we fully
expect to see technology breakthroughs by companies and
universities in Qatar, which are then commercialised
with companies at the science park' said Figgis. 'The
academic side is already well underway at Qatar
Foundation, and right now Qatar Science & Technology
Park is building the environment for the companies and
He said international companies have already committed
more than $100 million of investment in research and
commercialisation at Qatar Science & Technology Park
over the next five years.
Companies to have already joined Qatar Science &
Technology Park include EADS, ExxonMobil, GE, Microsoft,
Rolls-Royce, Shell and Total. As it nears its opening in
early 2007, it expects to also attract medium-sized
companies and to start filling its business incubator.
While the science park is open to technology development
in any industry, it cites gas, petrochemicals, IT,
water, environment, healthcare and aviation as being
sectors most relevant to Qatar's economy and society.
The presentation by Qatar Science & Technology Park took
place on the second day of the Enriching the Middle
East's Economic Future conference. The conference,
organised by Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the
UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations,
addresses economic issues in the Middle East including
energy security and the growing Asian role in the
petroleum market. It also deals with public-private
partnerships, development of small-to-medium sized
enterprise, and education. The conference concluded