Bush, Perry Dedicate A&M Facility in Qatar

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Former President George Bush and Texas Governor Rick Perry attended a ceremony in Qatar Monday for the dedication of a new Texas A&M University facility.

Texas A&M at Qatar has been sharing space with another university since the program's start in 2003.

Officials say the new building will allow the school to expand enrollment to about 100 students.

Former President Bush offered a few words during the ceremony.

"We celebrate a partnership between two great peoples and two great institutions that will foster greater opportunity, prosperity, and indeed hope for Qatari people and for the peoples throughout the gulf region," Bush said. "I'll tell you it gives great hope to the people in the United States, particularly those in Texas, who are familiar with the institution."

School spokeswoman Desi Burns Porter says the new building will cost an estimated $142 million. The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development paid for the new building. It's located at a 2,500 acre site in Doha known as Education City.

The university offers undergraduate degrees in chemical, electrical, mechanical and petroleum engineering.

Texas A&M began teaching engineering courses in Qatar in 2003 through a partnership with Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.

Officials say the new facility will be one of the largest and most technologically advanced engineering education facilities in the world.

"Education City is unique in the world. Nowhere else have five leading universities come together to contribute those areas in which they excel to a new entity that is greater than all of them," said Dr. Abdulla Al-Thani, Vice President for Education, Qatar Foundation. "Qatar Foundation is the host and the guiding spirit of this project which is probably the most ambitious and important initiative taking place in higher education anywhere in the world."

Texas A&M Interim President Eddie J. Davis said the new facility and the programs conducted there will contribute to the future of Qatar and the rest of the Middle East.

"This new facility will further advance our partnership goals of educating some of Qatar's future leaders while enhancing Texas A&M's reputation by contributing to better cross-cultural understanding within the Gulf Region and throughout the world," Davis said.

The new engineering facility will allow TAMUQ to be the first university in Education City to offer graduate degree programs in the fall of 2007, pending approval by the Qatar Foundation.