DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES--(Marketwire - August 19, 2008) - Furthering its goal to develop ongoing homegrown technical skills through education initiatives, Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) marked the investiture of its first graduates of its Middle East and North Africa Levant (MENAL) Global Talent Acceleration Program in Dubai in early August 2008.

Part of an ongoing investment in the region, the Global Talent Acceleration Program (GTAP) is a long-term Cisco initiative aimed at developing next-generation local network consulting engineers (NCEs) for the company. The 15 graduating students hailed from the inaugural Jordan facility of GTAP, launched in November 2007. The Jordan facility based in Amman acts as a hub and caters to trainees across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Levant and North Africa. The first cohort of graduating students comes from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Entry- or associate-level candidates for the program were all recent college graduates and mid- or professional-level students who had significant prior experience with Cisco networking. All but one of the graduating students will make the transition to full-time employment with Cisco Advanced Services as NCEs, working out of Cisco's regional service-delivery hub.

"The graduation of the first cohort of GTAP students is a milestone for Cisco in our efforts to create skilled local staff and provide our customers and partners with improved direct support," commented John Livingston, director, business development, Cisco. "By increasing the pool of skilled and certified local associate or professional engineers, the program will enable Cisco to better serve customers in MENAL. Our investment will help foster a climate of confidence in which business and government leaders commit to major new projects."

GTAP currently has two facilities in emerging markets, the Jordan initiative (launched in November 2007) and a Johannesburg facility which will eventually act as a 'hub' for programs in emerging Africa. The program represents a core part of Cisco's strategy to be a truly global company through the creation of new business models and the acceleration of local talent networks. GTAP has particular relevance in MENAL, where there is a need to train staff in services delivery. The program has been designed and structured to be sustainable. The students already receive a salary and go through the training in relatively small groups of 16 people. This enables GTAP to put a strong emphasis on technical and professional training, mentorship and on-the-job training.

Cisco Learning Solutions Partners, Synergy and Fast Lane were the providers of Cisco learning courses for the program in Amman. Estarta Solutions, a strategic Cisco partner in the Middle East hosted and managed the program training facility at its premises in Amman.

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