The Syracuse University (SU) of the US will open up an information centre in Dubai Knowledge Village this month to essentially serve as a regional portal to its New York campus. Founded in 1870, SU has silently been at work in the Middle East, mainly the GCC, for over five years through its 400 regional alumni, by way of internship programmes. "The information centre will be a portal to SU for students and their families to find out information about our different colleges and schools," said Quinn. "Over time, its use may evolve to fit new needs such as a place for interviews with students or as a base for recruitments." There are currently 100 students from the Gulf enrolled with SU. Quinn added there are no immediate plans to open a full-fledged campus, although that option has not been ruled out entirely. "Our expansion plans do not include a full-fledged campus, [although] we have explored different offers to do that, but have not found a good model for us," he said. "[However] we never say never; and would consider possible partnerships in the future." Quiet activities Quinn said SU's strong regional alumni base has been critical to its "careful" and "quiet" activities in recent years with the new information centre merely serving as an expansion milestone. "The opening of our office is really just another milestone," said Kevin Quinn, senior vice-president for Public Affairs. "For the past five years we have been quietly and carefully assessing our future in Dubai." He added SU already has three existing internship programmes in the emirate, providing its US-based students a chance to experience life in the UAE. "At SU we have seen an increased demand for knowledge about Islam and cultures of the Middle East but especially in the Gulf states," said Quinn. "This demand affects SU by tempting us to take advantage of our community of experts." At a time when most businesses would think twice about expanding in the Middle East, Quinn believes, the current uprisings present a good opportunity to explore SU's expansion plans. This is due to what he believes to be a re-evaluation by the youth, of their societies, which presents an inroad for SU to establish further networks. Social media "As the Middle East goes through the ‘Arab Spring' experience, displaying social unrest and dissatisfaction with certain traditions; and through the internet and social media young people communicate with their peers to ask basic questions about how they want their societies to evolve," he said. "This is a very good time to establish credible networks in this part of the world that will allow SU to be very opportunistic in the future; as we look for ways to establish the two-way street."