The decision was announced late on Monday at the end of a three-day US-Islamic forum in Doha attended by public figures and academics from both the Islamic world and the US.

Further US-Islamic conferences would be held, one in Europe and the other in Southeast Asia, to debate such issues as "security, Islamophobia and globalisation", a final statement said.

It said the Brookings Institution would open an office in Doha, which "will be the first branch ... to open outside of the United States and introduce the international model of independent
think-tanks to the region".

It did not specify when the branch of the Washington-based
institute would open.

The US think-tank Rand already operates in Doha as the Rand-Q Policy Institute, and a number of prestigious US colleges have opened branches at an Education City launched in October 2003.

Centres of excellence

Striking a claim as the Gulf's learning hub, gas-rich Qatar is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into drawing an array of the world's best centres of excellence to Education City, built in the desert on the edge of Doha.

The city hosts Virginia Commonwealth University, Texas A and M University, and Weill Cornell Medical College, a branch of the renowned New York school.

The US-Islamic forum, jointly organised by the Qatari Foreign Ministry and Brookings, was held against the backdrop of Muslim anger against the West over the publication in the European press of Prophet Muhammad cartoons and the broadcast of new images of US prisoner abuse in Iraq.