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Dubai Aims to Become E-Business Zone

General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai and UAE defence minister, has called for a global initiative to establish the metropolis as 'Dubai Internet City'.

The launch calls for a free trade zone for e-business in Dubai. The announcement was made the day before the official opening of Gitex, a much-anticipated annual trade fair. HH General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoums vision was received with enthusiasm by convention attendees.

Dubai Internet City will also be home to an Internet University, which will offer six-month to one-year courses in Internet-oriented areas such as business, finance, marketing, multimedia, Web design and site management. Sheikh Mohammed added that the city will have a technology research and development centre as well as a science and technology park containing permanent exhibition and display halls.

The project will be headquartered opposite the Emirates Golf Club and the first phase of development is expected to cost Dh735 million (US$200 million). Future costs will be determined by the level of response from Internet-oriented companies.

Sheikh Mohammed will supervise the construction of the project, which is expected to be completed in a year. The Dubai government has already initiated work on content development for the project's Web site, and a portal site and an e-commerce enabled site are in the works.

"My vision is simple. In the future, all commercial action will be in cyberspace. But the cyber world will need a ground base, in this physical world," said Sheikh Mohammed. He invited sector heavyweights to consider setting up regional and global centers in Dubai Internet City, pointing to cost reductions and work environment as key payoffs for the move.

"Tomorrows world will be driven by the Internet. It will be driven by innovative ideas and Dubai will be a significant global player in the dot com world," said Sheikh Mohammed.



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