Newswise — CHICAGO — DePaul University, the largest U.S. Catholic university, and Al Faisal Holding, one of the leading private companies in Qatar, have signed an agreement to take the first steps toward a long-term collaboration that supports entrepreneurship and business development in Qatar and the Middle East. DePaul, based in Chicago, plans to launch the Sheikh Faisal Center for Entrepreneurship in the Middle East at the Driehaus College of Business later this year.

Al Faisal Holding’s chairman and CEO, Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, said: “We are proud to sign this agreement with DePaul, one of the world’s leading educational institutions. The government of Qatar has launched several initiatives to support entrepreneurs and is investing heavily to enhance the educational system in Qatar, providing many first class educational facilities to build a generation that can lead the nation and achieve its vision. Al Faisal Holding has always been a strong supporter of Qatar's vision and this agreement will help to accelerate knowledge transfer, which is very important for success in business. With a booming economy and excellent educational system we are sure that this center will nourish the entrepreneurial spirit that will give additional impetus to Qatar’s development.”

“Sheikh Faisal is one of the Middle East’s leading entrepreneurs and this collaborative effort will bring together business leaders from the United States and the Middle East to cultivate the burgeoning entrepreneurial class in Qatar,” said the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul University. “We will use this opportunity to strengthen DePaul’s investment in globally minded business programs for our students and graduates.”

The Sheikh Faisal Center for Entrepreneurship in the Middle East will work through DePaul’s nationally recognized Coleman Entrepreneurship Center. The center will facilitate a Young Entrepreneur Academy that develops new generations of Qatari and U.S. entrepreneurs and business leaders through student exchange programs.

DePaul plans to host a group of Qatari students each summer on its Chicago campus where they will work with business college faculty and alumni entrepreneurs to apply entrepreneurship theory and practice in developing their own businesses plans. Additionally, a group of Driehaus College of Business students who are enrolled in programs related to business development in the Middle East will have the opportunity to participate in a study abroad program in Qatar.

“Our faculty and successful alumni entrepreneurs look forward to working with emerging entrepreneurs from Qatar and throughout the Middle East to support their continued development into a thriving, professional class,” said Ray Whittington, dean of the Driehaus College of Business. “We also see the center as a great opportunity for DePaul students to gain real-world experience on an international stage.”

The Sheikh Faisal Center for Entrepreneurship in the Middle East will hold an annual conference in Chicago that convenes an international audience of business leaders. The event will serve as a source of professional knowledge for Qatar entrepreneurs and those who do business in the Middle East. Sheikh Faisal also will host a business competition in Qatar for emerging entrepreneurs.

Whittington praised Sheikh Faisal’s support for the center, which “reflects his belief in the power of entrepreneurship to fuel a thriving economy.”

This agreement is the latest in a series of initiatives Al Faisal Holding has taken to support the development of Qatar’s education system. AFH’s educational division, which is a nonprofit center, operates the Gulf English School and collaborates with Stenden University. Last year AFH reached agreement with DePaul to bring a specialized MBA program to Qatar. In 2009 AFH launched the Al Faisal Educational fund with Qatar University.