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Wed 16 May 2007 12:42 PM

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SAE confirms Middle East expansion plans

Audio engineering institute keen to tap regional growth opportunities.

Leading audio engineering training services provider SAE Institute is placing the Middle East at the forefront of its global expansion strategy, with confirmation the organisation plans to open up to five new schools in the region over the next two years.

The technical education services provider currently operates 46 audio engineering schools worldwide and claims the United States as its biggest single market.

However, prompted by the success of its Dubai-based Middle East headquarters, which opened in summer 2005, the organisation has earmarked rapid expansion in the region as key to its overall growth plans.

SAE associate regional director for Asia and the Middle East Alex Gehrig said the organisation would leverage a licensing model to underpin its regional expansion plans, working with local partners to establish schools in countries including Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Bahrain.

In January, SAE opened its first stand-alone facility outside Dubai in Kuwait City, in conjunction with local industry identity and music producer, Abdul Mohsen Abdul Azziz Al Sarawi. Gehrig explained the facility would take its first batch of student enrolments in August.

The organisation is also in the process of establishing a third school in Amman, Jordan, which will form the cornerstone of country partner Al Quds College's new media production facility that will be the first of its kind in the country.

Scheduled to open in July, the Al Quds SAE campus will provide training for up to 400 students, eclipsing SAE's booming Dubai campus, which is equipped to cater for a maximum of 300 students.

Gehrig explained that as part of the agreement with Al Quds College, SAE was playing a major role in the development of the campus, providing staff and training services and developing the curriculum.

He said that SAE planned to use this model as the basis for its expansion plans.

"Governments in the region generally take a very strict approach to domestic education policies, which makes it difficult for a foreign institution to enter a particular market," he explained.

We believe the way forward is to work with country partners that have experience dealing with local law makers."

Gehrig explained that both the Kuwait and Jordan institutes would offer SAE's audio engineering, film making, multimedia production and animation courses.

"The diploma courses will be fully-accredited certificates in line with local education requirements," he added.

SAE Kuwait students will be provided with access to three recording studios owned by Al Sawari: an eight-track studio equipped with a Yamaha 02R console; a Control 24 console-equipped studio with a Pro Tools set-up; and a 150m

orchestral recording room boasting a fully-featured Neve Capricorn console.

While plans for the Jordanian facility are yet to be finalised, Gehrig confirmed that a Neve 88D digital console would form the cornerstone of the institute's audio production facility.

He also confirmed that Lebanon was next on SAE's Middle East expansion agenda.

"We were set to open a campus in Beirut prior to last year's conflict," he said. "We expect to confirm plans for a college-based facility in the city in the next month."

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