The ICT Fund, a Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) initiative, is in talks with the UAE Ministry of Education over the development of ICT labs in schools across the country. In an effort to incorporate value-added elements to the education system in the country, the Ministry of Education, and the ICT Fund, are discussing their collaboration to bring ICT labs to national schools, stipulating that each emirate should have at least one ICT lab to initiate this educational ICT project. “We are building the UAE ICT sector, and one of the ways that we can instill interest in this field is by engaging the country’s youth. Establishing ICT labs throughout the UAE, starting with at least one lab in every emirate is a strong initial move. Along with the assistance and guidance of the Ministry of Education, details of this project are being finalized including the curriculum that will be offered, in addition to further discussions on how to implement the labs, and so on,” commented Dr. Eesa Bastaki, CEO, ICT Fund. Miss Sharifa Mousa, Director of Student Activities & Scientific Competitions, Ministry of Education remarked by saying “There are several factors that need to be considered for this project including the curriculum, contributions from each party, how the curriculum will be graded to assess students’ educational progress, in addition to many other considerations. We are also working with Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology and Investment Company (ATIC) to develop some learning programs. The Ministry of Education continually seeks to improve the educational offering in the country, which aims to develop a bright ambitious generation to serve as exemplary citizens for future generations and for the continued success of the UAE”. Dr. Sabri Al-Azazi, Board Member of the ICT Fund, stated, “This alignment will help solidify the ICT Fund’s ambition to infiltrate ICT education into our local market starting with our youth. Developing this sector will rely upon introducing ICT to our younger generations, ensuring that our country and this sector will be led by well educated, progressive thinkers who will keep the UAE in the international market with marketable and competitive ICT products and services.” With the goal to have these labs and corresponding education programs in place for the 2012 fall academic term; the ICT Fund, Ministry of Education, and ATIC have begun their careful planning to develop the learning programs. The ICT Fund will primarily be extending the funding for this project in addition to some technical support. The ICT Fund met with many other institutions and organizations through Gitex 2011 which presented promising ways to enhance the ICT in the UAE. Aside from educational initiatives, the ICT Fund is enabling ICT development in the UAE by funding research and development centers in partnership with universities and research organizations as well as individual research projects in various universities. The ICT Fund will invest in the setup of the physical infrastructure of applied R&D centers in academic, research institutions, and local companies. This will support basic research and applied R&D initiatives with the goal of developing new cutting-edge ICT products, product enhancements, and new services, all of which will benefit the economy of the UAE. ICT Fund provides generous grants to research projects, which results in the development of applied R&D, and the generation of related patents and research papers. In addition, it is actively supporting the commercialization of applied R&D, leading to the establishment of start-ups in the ICT sector.