Abu Dhabi will be home to a microchip fabrication plant within four years, and will bost of semiconductor industry workforce of up to 40,000 people by 2030, a leader of the emirate's drive into high technology said yesterday. "Give us about four years and you'll see the first foundry," Waleed al Muhairi, the chairman of the Advanced Technology Investment Company (Atic), said during a speech to an energy conference in Abu Dhabi yesterday. And the Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is already partnered with the Emirate's Masdar renewable energy city, could play a key role in the development of a local semiconductor industry. Mr al Muhairi, who is also the chief operating officer of Mubadala, said such an industry would require major advances in the country's eduction system. In the United States, MIT plays a central role in the national technology ecosystem. "We need designers, process engineers and material scientists, and we're going to have them," Mr al Muhairi said. MIT's provost, L Rafael Reif, said on the conference sidelines that MIT would explore collaboration with Abu Dhabi in additional sectors. Atic owns a controlling stake in Globalfoundries, a semiconductor maker that is ran as a joint venture with AMD, the world's second largest computer chipmaker. Mubadala is AMD's largest shareholder, owning 20 per cent of the company. Globalfoundries currently operates a semiconductor foundry in Germany, and broke ground earlier in the year on a second facility in the state of New York. The American president, Barack Obama, visited the site in September, singling it out as an example of how advanced technology will play a central role in America's economic future. Atic recently acquired Chartered Semiconductor, a Singaporean chipmaker, and said it would integrate the business into Globalfoundries, creating what will be the world's second largest chipmaker. The move puts the business into tighter competition with Taiwan's TSMC, the world's largest manufacturer. "We're going head to head with TSMC, so we're going to fight it out," Mr al Muhairi said. "We think most of the other foundaries are going to disappear over time."
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