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Date: Tue, 2 Nov 1999 00:57:37 +0500
From: Irfan Khan
Subject: Dubai launches cybercity
Dubai launches cybercity
By Frank Gardner in Dubai
The Gulf emirate of Dubai has announced it is building the world's
first free trade zone for business done over the internet.
Dubai's Crown Prince Sheikh Muhammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum told a
news conference that marketing for the $200m 'Dubai Internet City'
would begin on Sunday and that operations would begin in one year's
"My vision is simple," Sheikh Muhammed told journalists. "In the
future all commercial action will be in cyberspace. But the cyber
world will need a ground base on this physical world."
He said the world's leading computer companies have been invited to
set up offices in the zone, situated just outside Dubai, and that
they will be offered 100% foreign ownership and 50-year renewable
Sheikh Muhammed Al-Maktoum, who has been one of the driving forces
behind Dubai's bid to diversify its income away from its dwindling
oil reserves, referred to recent estimates of the global electronic
commerce industry as being worth around $40bn.
He told journalists that the planned Dubai Internet City is expected
to attract all businesses in the internet-related industry, from
venture capitalists to software and multimedia developers.
The city is set to include a research and development centre, a
science and technology park, and an internet university, offering
short courses in e-commerce, design and management.
Proposals for joining the new cybercity are likely to be discussed by
many of the participants at the Gulf's largest computer show, Gitex
'99, which opened in Dubai on Saturday, 30 October.
Gitex, which is the world's third largest IT exhibition, draws
exhibitors from both the West and South Asia.
Large numbers of Indian computer specialists work in Dubai. Sheikh
Muhammed said that Dubai officials had visited Bangalore, India's IT
capital, and that efforts were being made to lure some of the best
brains to Dubai.
But while Dubai has earned itself a reputation as the commercial
capital of the Gulf, business analysts point out that the United Arab
Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, has one of the most restrictive
internet access policies in the world.
Government officials say this is necessary to shield this Muslim
country from foreign pornography and that there is no restriction on
business done over the internet
But in a practice which has long become outdated in much of the
world, the local telephone company, Etisalat, maintains a complete
monopoly on all telephone, fax and internet communications into and
out of the country.