Oracle invests in Saudi economic city

US software giant signs deal to provide technology and expertise to Knowledge Economic City.

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By  Wael Mahdi Published  November 25, 2007

US software giant Oracle on Sunday signed a deal with Saudi Arabia’s Knowledge Economic City (KEC) in Medina to provide technology and expertise to help in the city’s development.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Oracle will help in developing a blueprint for KEC and establish an Oracle Training Academy to supply the city with skilled labour.

The city will focus on developing intellectual property and knowledge-based industries, with emphasis given to four major areas: medical; hospitality; tourism and multimedia.

KEC is one of four economic cities being developed in the kingdom. Construction on the 25 billion Saudi riyal ($6.7 billion) project is expected to begin in January.

The project is expected to be fully completed in 10 to 12 years, with the first phase ready in three years.

KEC CEO Tahir Bawazir told the press conference in Jeddah that academy graduates will satisfy the need for qualified IT staff and lead to a more skilled work force in Medina, which in turns creates further competitive advantage for local companies.

“Indirectly, the community as a whole also benefits because there is a multiplier effect that occurs each time a new job is created,” he continued.

KEC is expected to create more than 20,000 jobs and accommodation for about 150,000 people.

The two parties have not agreed yet on how to develop their cooperation but as a start Oracle will provide its software and expertise to local educational institutions in KEC to supply the city with Oracle skilled-engineers.

Oracle Vice President Abdulrahman Al-Thehaiban said both parties would achieve complementary goals through this partnership, but did not go into detail about how this will be achieved.

Al-Thehaiban also did not reveal how much Oracle is planning to invest in KEC.

Oracle and KEC are planning to make the city an export platform for Oracle certified-technical staff to other regions.

“We can learn a lot from their capability, efficiency and experience and we are looking forward to developing a whole new generation of Oracle-skilled engineers to fill the increasing number of vacancies across the Middle East,” said Bawazir.

Al-Thehaiban added: “We need more qualified Oracle engineers trained to service our own growth plans so there is a strong business incentive for us to partner with KEC in this way.

Saudi Arabia is developing four economic cities to boost regional development and provide employment for the country’s growing population.

Beside KEC, the other economic cities are King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Rabigh, home to industrial activities, port, plastics and light manufacturing; Prince Abdul Aziz bin Musaed Economic City in Hail, which will focus on agriculture, mining, transportation and logistics activities; and Jazan Economic City (JEC), which is to focus on heavy and energy industries.

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