US networking giant Cisco said recently that it plans to establish a research and technology centre at the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP). The project was unveiled at a meeting between Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, wife of the Emir of Qatar, and Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers, currently on a tour of the region. The announcement comes a day after the company unveiled a 5.8 billion-UAE dirham (USD 1.58 billion) information and communications technology (ICT) investment package for the UAE. The Qatar centre will cost around USD 40 million, spread over three years, and will be used to work with the Qatar Foundation on projects to develop Qatar’s knowledge economy. “We are very pleased to embark on a major research initiative with Cisco to help transform Qatar’s ability to access and share information across technical and national boundaries,” said .STP executive chairman Tidu Maini. Paul Mountford, president of emerging markets at Cisco, added: “We are committed to working with Qatar Foundation to help improve the development of human capital and technology by transforming the education strategy through technology in Qatar and across the region.” The first collaboration will be on Project iQ, which aims to create a collaborative platform that can be used by the Qatar Foundation to work with other organisations around the globe on research, education, health and youth employment initiatives. As part of the UAE investment, Cisco said it would expand its headcount, open a new regional headquarters at Dubai’s Knowledge Village and open an Abu Dhabi office. The plan also includes an expansion of the Cisco Networking Academies programme, which works with academic institutions to give students skills and experience to prepare them for careers in the IT sector. In April 2006 Cisco pledged an investment of 1 billion Saudi riyals (USD 265 million) to the Saudi Arabian ICT sector. Cisco’s Saudi investment plan includes increasing headcount in the kingdom and establishing a technology and entrepreneurship centre and new networking academies.