Dubai Silicon Oasis attracts first multi-billion dollar company

The DSO has been operational since late 2002, when Sheikh Mohammed issued a decree, focusing the development of the economy away from being strictly oil-based and moving to being a knowledge-based one.

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By  Tawanda Chihota Published  September 29, 2005

This Gitex, the Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) Free Zone has announced that LSI Logic Corporation is to establish a semiconductor design and engineering development centre within its area, set to become a microelectronics technology park. “It is our first multi-billion dollar semiconductor design company,” says James Adams, DSO’s marketing communications manager. The DSO has been operational since late 2002, when Sheikh Mohammed issued a decree, focusing the development of the economy away from being strictly oil-based and moving to being a knowledge-based one. However, since then, the infrastructure needed for a sophisticated semiconductor research community has been under installation. “It’s not as easy as running a line from a power plant. Substations had to be built, water, sewage plants, all under government regulations, so they had to conform to standards,” says Adams. When it began, DSO was under the remit of the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority, and indeed appears within the large DAFZA stand. But two month’s ago, another decree from Sheikh Mohammed made it a separate government controlled entity. “It makes sense to be separate. The types of businesses DAFZA are building for are different to the ones we are trying to attract,” says Adams. Controlling over seven million square metres, the DSO has planned an entire self-contained city within its perimeters, with commercial and residential areas, alongside design, development and manufacturing facilities. A large expanse of yet-to-be-completed villas has already been let out to Emirates Airlines employees. “I believe we will start occupying the land in 2007,” predicts Adams, pointing to an impressive artists impression of what the free zone should look like once finished. While the DSO already has a number of semiconductor research companies under its wing, they are currently operating across from Internet City. Aside from these, Adams says the DSO had UK-based Time Group on board, who would be manufacturing plasma screen television sets. So far, the presence of these companies has been fairly small, with just a handful of employees from each in Dubai. “But with LSI Logic Corporation, they have projected that within two years they will have 150 designers,” says Adams. The DSO actually signed to appear at this year’s Gitex when still under the control of DAFZA, but have been looking to attend the show in its own right all along. “We’re here for local visibility, we want to show we are real. There are key investors here,” says Adams. The show reminds him of Comdex, the huge US trade show.

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