In spite of the doom and gloom hitting most sectors of the world economy, the technology sector in the Middle East hasn't taken its eye off the ball when it comes to R&D. Research and development often suffers in a downturn to the detriment of progress in recovery yet good news stories abound. The Qatar Science and Technology Park is scheduled to be inaugurated next month.
More than US$800m has been invested in the research and development hub which was established in 2004 and is now a base for 21 organisations in the ICT, health sciences, energy and environment sectors.
Approximately 1,200 guests, including Sir Richard Branson, are set to attend the inauguration on March 16, which will be hosted by HH The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and HH Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, chairperson of the Qatar Foundation. The Park is located at Qatar Foundation's Education City, which is home to international universities such as Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgetown and Texas A&M.
On a smaller level, R&D investment continues from the commercial sector. Intel Capital, the IT investment wing of the chip giant, has made three investments in UAE companies. These include digital advertising specialist Conservus International, three-dimensional animation expert Vertex Animation and Pulse Technologies which produces systems that digitise and automate the operations of hotels and apartment towers. The investment follow Intel's first UAE investment which was made at the end of last year.
These sustained commitments from government and commercial organisations are critical for the climate of innovation to continue through the recession. Only by following these kinds of investments through can the mistakes of past recession be avoided.
I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.