Beirut Digital District was officially launched with the inauguration of the first building in the ICT hub, dubbed BDD 1499. The digital district is situated in Bachoura, near the Ministry of Finance, adjacent to Beirut Central District.
The project is being developed by Zein Real Estate (ZRE).Total investment in the project is expected to reach $150 million.
Mohamad Rabbah, General Manager of ZRE said this value covers construction cost and land investment. Rabbah said that the European Investment Bank has shown interest in co-funding the project, alongside with local banks.
With a total built-up area of 5,000 square meters spread across nine floors, BDD 1499 will be able to host around 12 companies. Korean telecommunication services firm, ZTE, local mobile operator Touch, Samsung, and ZRE have already operational offices within the smart district. Rabbah said a handful of other companies have their offices under-preparation, including Cleartag, Siemens, and Nokia.
The second building will be ready by January 2013. It will be able to host some 35 companies. Within the coming five years, BDD’s built-up area will rise to 40,000 square meters. The area will have 26,000 square meters of office spaces, of which 6,000 will be dedicated to Berytech incubated start-ups. According to Rabbah, building convention centers and equipped research centers are still subject to discussion with the Ministry of Telecom and the World Bank, which has shown interest in similar concepts.
Start-up companies moving into the smart district will get incubation and acceleration from Berytech. Maroun Chammas, Chairman and CEO of Berytech said: “We are one component within the project, and any other appropriate incubator or accelerator is welcome to join.” Berytech will be investing up to $2 million each year during the six years of operations within the project.
Southbic and Biat are two other incubators which the ministry said are capable of managing a digital city.
Rental fees will be charged depending on the services requested and provided, said Chammas. The monthly rent will hover at $200 per square meter. This rate covers office space, Internet and telecom services, UPS system, and security.
“We are not mainly intending to make profits out of this initiative, our target is to gather as many companies to create jobs in the ICT sector, with a balanced budget and without losing money,” said Chammas.
Source: businessnews.com.lb, Reported by Rana Freifer