Bahrain: Partnership between EDB and KFIC to Develop 'Higher Education City'

Published December 26th, 2006 - 06:47 GMT

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) Monday signed an agreement with the Kuwait Finance and Investment Company (KFIC) to deliver a significant boost to higher education in the Kingdom.  The MoU between the two parties will lead to the development of a ‘higher education city’ that will include a full branch of a top U.S. university, an international centre for research and studies, and a specialist academy - in addition to integrated housing, entertainment, and athletic and sports facilities.


The project will help to position the Kingdom as one of the foremost regional centres for specialist higher education. It is considered a key initiative in encouraging further educational innovation to fill the skills gap in both the current and future labour markets. It will also effectively leverage increased direct investments into the Kingdom.


The MoU was signed by Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa, Chief Executive of the EDB, and Mr. Abdulrahman Ali Al Saeed, Vice Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of the KFIC.


On the occasion of the signing, Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa expressed his satisfaction in the partnership with a key Kuwaiti firm in this important educational development. "This project is another step towards encouraging innovation and enhancing the Kingdom's educational status," he said. "The educational city will embrace the specializations demanded by the local and regional labour markets. It will provide students with the engineering skills needed to serve the energy and key economic sectors, as well as offer much needed courses in the business and science disciplines," he explained.


Shaikh Mohammed added, "the education city will attract some of the world’s leading universities and specialise in programs in engineering and scientific research. The site will incorporate all the required infrastructure for a world-class centre, with supporting facilities like scientific laboratories. It will be a truly integrated, state-of-the art centre for science and learning," pointing out that – at the same time – the city "will contribute in creating more specialist and high wages job opportunities, such as lab technicians, academic professors, engineers and more." 


Speaking on behalf of KFIC, Mr. Abdulrahman Ali Al Saeed expressed their pleasure, as the project’s main developer and investor, at the partnership with the Bahrain's EDB. He added, “this reflects the trust of the EDB in KFIC's ability to deliver a project of this scale and complexity. It also indicates Bahrain’s commitment to encouraging investment by attracting leading companies and creating the optimum environment for inward investment. The continued efforts to facilitate working relationships between public bodies and corporate investors allow the private sector to innovate and deliver projects that add real value to Bahrain and Bahrainis."


Mr. Al Saeed said that, "despite tough competition in the Gulf region to attract investments in education and training, Bahrain was our preferred destination for a project of this scale.  This is due to several significant factors including the international standard of infrastructure; effective and transparent legislation; and effective links by road, sea and air to neighboring states.  Bahrain’s openness and social environment also makes it the ideal location for this development.”


The education city is designed to attract leading international universities and educational institutions.  Research and development workshops will also be built, providing industries - including downstream and the service sector, with the facilities to improve their production operations.


Developers have already attracted international universities, but are keen to work with other educational partners who wish to establish a regional base. The project will attract students not only from Bahrain, but also students from across the Middle East region by providing education up to international standards for those unable to travel to Europe, America or beyond. 


The two signing parties agreed that KFIC will work with international experts to attract universities and specialized educational providers. The company will invest in the highest standards of infrastructure development. It will work to attract the most distinguished educational and executive expertise to the city through a strategic investment symposium, focused on providing maximum benefits for the Kingdom and potential partners.


The EDB will facilitate and secure the necessary government approvals, and promote the project within the wider framework of promoting the Kingdom to investors.


The MoU signing ceremony was attended by Dr. Zakaria Ahmed Hejres, Deputy Chief Executive and Dr. Haitham Al-Qahtani, Advisor on Special Projects, from the EDB; in addition to Mr. Hamzah Behbehani, Executive Vice President – Investment Division, Mr. Mubarak E. Al-Sulaili, Consultant – KFIC,  and Mr. Thamer Abul, Assistant Manager – Marketing section, KFIC.


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