Designed to provide international companies with a research and development presence in the region, the park will initially be structured around five key technology ‘clusters’ covering desalination, water treatment, energy, oil and gas exploration, and insulation. Four companies have already committed to establishing facilities in the park and negotiations are under way with firms from Europe, Japan and the US.

‘We want to place Dubai at the centre of technology development in the region,’ Shihab Ghanem, the new managing director of the park, said. ‘The park will come under the existing JAFZ regulations. Companies wishing to set up in the park will build their own facilities under 50-year leases. We will provide the basic infrastructure.’

The US consultant Research Triangle Institute (RTI)is completing the masterplan for the park’s main administrative buildings, which will include offices and conference facilities. Tender documents are expected to be issued in late 2002. Soft opening is scheduled for late 2003.