King Abdullah University of Science and Technology!

27 10 2007

Groundbreaking of KAUST, Oct 27On October 22 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new university in Thawal called the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

With one of the largest university endowments in the world, KAUST is using MIT as a model and is aiming to be world-class in every respect – students, faculty, facilities. The website is also quite impressive.

I am jumping-off-the-walls excited about this. One hindrance to development in the Arab world is the lack of original research going on at the universities. A lot of countries have an awful brain-drain effect going on, and as a result the academic community is generally not thriving.

So a university like this, which has the potential to keep some of the brain power of the Middle East in the Middle East, is a big deal. It’s very exciting.

KAUST will be co-ed – a fact that is pretty significant in Saudi Arabia. It will be the first co-ed university in the country.

Saudis can be hardcore conservatives–The Saudi national motto is the Shahadah.  And very conservative Saudis are often less than approving of their royal family, who sometimes appear to be pretending conservatism to avoid revolt. It’s inevitable that King Abdullah will face criticism from within the kingdom for this – probably harsh criticism.

Anyway, it might be very difficult for KAUST to attract non-Saudi women, Muslim or otherwise. Living in Saudi Arabia as a single woman with no family would be damned near impossible, even if the university you were attending was progressive.

More on KAUST:




4 responses

15 07 2008


but i was annoyed but this “The Saudi national motto is the Shahadah.”. >>>there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!!!!!!!!!!.

3 10 2008

I’m sorry it took me so long to approve your comment. I am obviously not keeping up with this blog the way I should.

I used that example not to imply that there was anything wrong with the Shahadah as a national motto, just to illustrate the conservatism/religiousness in Saudi politics. My friends who read this blog are sometimes not familiar with the differences between the political atmospheres in countries in the Middle East.

18 01 2009
Engineering Faculty

I have had very well intentioned and involved interactions with KAUST, including their Global Research Partnerships and the fellowships. I now have no doubt that this is yet another waste of huge financial resources that the population of this developing country badly needs. Saudi Arabia’s GDP is $20,000. This is not a rich country, they have an illiteracy problem, human rights problems, no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, a huge economical chasim between the rich and the severely poor. They are better off building their economy from the bottom up, i.e. better educating their population at the elementary, secondary, and college level. Such developments will naturally lead to well earned freedoms that will enable world class Graduate research institutions. This is a mislead and out of touch effort by elite ARAMCO officials and intellectuals. This maybe salvaged by adding a few Economists to their team, preferrably economists from developing countries such as India, Turkey, Malaysia and Singapore.

24 01 2009

Sorry i was a little harsh maybe.
But it certainly annoying when i here/read/watch any news story about Saudi Arabia they try to paint us as religious extremists that are ultraconservative and “Wahhabi’s”, whatever that means!!.
It is simply not true.
I wish you can come and visit SA once, you’ll be amazed.
thanks for the post.

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