Dubai, UAE: DIFC Academy, the education platform of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading global financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, today announced a collaboration with Cisco to facilitate access for DIFC employees and the wider community to the Cisco Networking Academy – one of the longest running skills-to-jobs programmes worldwide.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between DIFC Academy and Cisco, a global leader in IT and networking, paves the way for a comprehensive talent development programme aimed at building a digitally skilled workforce in the UAE. For the first time in the region, DIFC community will have access to unmatched opportunities for professional development and upskilling in areas that are fundamental in the digital economy, including cybersecurity, programming, data science, networking and AI.  Cisco Networking Academy’s blended teaching approach allows for tailored learning experiences that are inclusive, accessible and meet the specific needs of the DIFC community.

Alya Al Zarouni, Chief Operating Officer at DIFC Authority, said: “Mastering networking, cybersecurity, IoT, cloud tech, programming, and automation is crucial in finance. Our collaboration with Cisco’s Networking Academy provides professionals with a diverse skill set, enhancing their ability to navigate the ever-evolving tech landscape in financial services. By incorporating Cisco Networking Academy courses, DIFC reinforces its position as a global financial hub, fostering career advancement and bolstering Dubai's reputation as a premier business destination.”

DIFC Academy has fulfilled the learning needs of the financial services industry by providing an accessible platform for top-ranked educational institutes, to deliver professional development certifications and higher education courses for a total number of 32,000 graduates since inception.

Abdelilah Nejjari, Managing Director for the Gulf region at Cisco, said: "Cisco Networking Academy is a powerful force for change. We are pleased to collaborate with DIFC Academy to offer high-quality training across multiple technology domains that will place learners at the forefront of innovation, while equipping them with in-demand skills. By combining our expertise with DIFC Academy’s commitment to talent development, we can effectively drive digital transformation and help meet the UAE's vision for a digitised future."

For the past 26 years, Cisco Networking Academy has been equipping individuals around the world with the knowledge and skills required to participate in the digital economy. Since the inception of the Cisco Networking Academy in the UAE, Cisco has trained more than 105,000 learners, with a strong female participation rate of 49 per cent. In the 2022–2023 academic year alone, more than 12,000 students were trained across 38 academies in the country.

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About Dubai International Financial Centre

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is one of the world’s most advanced financial centres, and the leading financial hub for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), which comprises 72 countries with an approximate population of 3bn and an estimated GDP of USD 8trn.

With a 20-year track record of facilitating trade and investment flows across the MEASA region, the Centre connects these fast-growing markets with the economies of Asia, Europe and the Americas through Dubai. 

DIFC is home to an internationally recognised, independent regulator and a proven judicial system with an English common law framework, as well as the region’s largest financial ecosystem of over 41,500 professionals working across over 5,500 active registered companies – making up the largest and most diverse pool of industry talent in the region. 

The Centre’s vision is to drive the future of finance through cutting-edge technology, innovation, and partnerships. Today, it is the global future of finance and innovation hub offering one of the region’s most comprehensive FinTech and venture capital environments, including cost-effective licensing solutions, fit-for-purpose regulation, innovative accelerator programmes, and funding for growth-stage start-ups.  

Comprising a variety of world-renowned retail and dining venues, a dynamic art and culture scene, residential apartments, hotels and public spaces, DIFC continues to be one of Dubai’s most sought-after business and lifestyle destinations. 

For further information, please visit our website:, or follow us on LinkedIn and X @DIFC. 

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Rasha Mezher | Dubai International Financial Centre Authority  
Manager, Marketing & Corporate Communications

About DIFC Academy

For over a decade, the DIFC Academy has catered to the learning needs of the DIFC community by serving as a platform for top-ranked educational institutions to deliver professional development and higher education courses within the DIFC. The Academy promotes educational excellence and human capital development within the DIFC community through partnering with some of the world’s most reputable institutions to offer a variety of programmes ranging from short certificate workshops to multi-year graduate degree programmes across the fields of law, finance and management and future skills.

For further information, please visit our website:

About Cisco

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