King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
KAUST Logo.svg
Motto "Through Inspiration, Discovery"
Type Private
Established September 23, 2009
Endowment $20 billion
President Nadhmi Al-Nasr
Undergraduates None
Postgraduates 940[1]
Location Thuwal, Makkah Province, Saudi Arabia
Coordinates: 22°18′45″N 39°06′38″E / 22.312602°N 39.11047°E / 22.312602; 39.11047
Campus 3,600 hectares (8,900 acres)

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (Arabic: جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلوم و التقنية ‎‎ jāmiʿat al-malik ʿabd al-Lāh li-l-ʿulūm wa-t-teqniyya) is a private research university located in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.

It was founded in 2009 and provides research and graduate training programs using English as the official language of instruction. It was announced in 2013 that KAUST had one of the fastest growing research and citation records in the world [2] and in the 2016 Nature Index Rising Stars was ranked #19 in the world of the fastest rising universities for high quality research output.[3] KAUST was ranked as the world's top university in citations per faculty ranking indicator as per QS World University Rankings for 2015-2016[4] and 2016-2017.[5]


KAUST officially opened on September 23, 2009 at an inauguration ceremony, where The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud gave a speech.[6]


Campus laboratories with town buildings and mosque on the left
Residential street with outdoor sculpture

The University's core campus, located on the Red Sea at Thuwal,[7] is sited on more than 36 square kilometres (14 sq mi), encompassing a marine sanctuary, museum, and research facility.[8]

KAUST is the first mixed-gender university campus in Saudi Arabia.[9] Saudi authorities hope the mixed-gender center will help modernize the Kingdom's deeply conservative society.[10] The religious police do not operate on-site. Women are allowed to mix freely with men and to drive on campus, and they are not required to wear veils in the coeducational classes.[11]

KAUST was Saudi Arabia's first LEED certified project and is the world's largest LEED Platinum campus.[12] Designed by international architecture firm HOK, it was also chosen by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) as one of the 2010 Top Ten Green Projects.[13] The university library received the 2011 AIA/ALA Library Building Award for accomplishments in library architecture.[14]

Core Laboratories[edit]

The state-of-the-art core lab facilities provide training and services to the KAUST research teams and their collaborators and partners. Many types of specialized equipment are located across the University core lab facilities. Technical experts train users and run the equipment.

Research and Technology Park[edit]

The research park allows technology-based businesses to establish office space, laboratory space or R&D and demonstration facilities. The park also provides incubator space for technology startups to support the innovation mission of KAUST[17] to enable technology transfer, startup funding, and entrepreneurship. The park occupies around 2.7 million square meters of space next to the academic campus. Current tenants include Saudi Aramco, Dow Chemical and SABIC.[18]

Residential neighborhoods[edit]

KAUST students, faculty and staff live in one of three residential areas: Safaa Gardens, Harbor District and Safaa Island neighborhood. Areas of community activity include Discovery Square, multiple gym facilities, libraries, and coffee shops. Discovery Square includes a movie theater, a grocery store, and several restaurants.

Academics and research[edit]

The university organizes interdisciplinary collaborative research teams across three academic divisions Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering (BESE); Computer, Electrical, and Mathematical Science and Engineering (CEMSE); and Physical Science and Engineering (PSE). It offers two graduate programs: a Master of Science degree (18 months) and a Ph.D. program (3–4 years).[19]

KAUST focuses on research that applies science and technology to problems of human need, social advancement, and economic development.[15] The main research thrusts are Resources, Energy and Environment; Biosciences and Bioengineering; Materials Science and Engineering; Applied Mathematics and Computational Science.[15]

To support these thrusts, KAUST established multidisciplinary Research Centers focused on catalysis, clean combustion, computational bioscience, geometric modeling and scientific visualization, membranes, desert agriculture, Red Sea science and engineering, solar and alternative energy science and engineering, and water desalination and reuse.[15]

Organization and administration[edit]

The leadership and administrative offices work together to pursue the University's mission to advance science and technology. The first president of the university was Choon Fong Shih.[20] On February 16, 2013, the executive committee of the board of trustees at KAUST appointed Jean-Lou Chameau, the former president of the California Institute of Technology, as the new President of KAUST.[21]

The board of trustees[22] is headed by the former Saudi oil minister and OPEC leader Ali Al-Naimi. Furthermore, several current and former ministers serve on the board of trustees, like Al-Naimi's successor Khalid A. Al-Falih, Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Mansour bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and Mishaal bin Abdullah Al Saud. Moreover, the president and CEO of Saudi Aramco Amin H. Nasser and the former president of the Islamic Development Bank Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Madani are among the Saudi board members. The international board members comprise the global managing director and CEO of McKinsey & Company Dominic Barton as well as several current and former university presidents like Charles M. Vest (MIT), Shirley M. Tilghman (Princeton), Frank H.T. Rhodes (Cornell), Alice P. Gast (Imperial College), Tony Chan (HKUST), and Nam Pyo Suh (KAIST).

Residents of the KAUST community enjoy many self-directed organizations, community activities and events.[23]


As of 2016, KAUST has 940 students in total[1] and 1200 alumni. The student population comes from over 60 nationalities from all continents, 69% of students are international and 31% are from Saudi Arabia.[1] 83% of the postgraduate students are undertaking Ph.D. studies, whilst 17% are studying for an M.S.[1] Interestingly, KAUST's student population includes 37% female and 63% male. The proportion of women is very high for a graduate program University in science and technology. Its graduate student council was established in 2009, for voicing students' interests. Under the council there are four subcommittees: Academic and Research Committee, Graduate Life Committee, International Business Relations Committee and University Relations Committee.[24] Alumni of KAUST often end up working in industry (44%) whilst 56% are teaching or conducting research in global academic institutions. The top countries where alumni live, study and work are Saudi Arabia, the U.S.A., China, the U.K. and Canada.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "QS World University Rankings® 2015/16". 2015-09-11. Retrieved 2016-10-02. 
  5. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2016". 2016-08-25. Retrieved 2016-10-02. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "KAUST general FAQs". King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Retrieved 2 October 2009. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Slackman, Michael (18 November 2009). "A Saudi Gamble to See if Seeds of Change Will Grow". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  11. ^ BBC - Saudis open hi-tech science oasis
  12. ^ World's largest LEED-Platinum project finds place in Top Ten Green Projects
  13. ^ AIA’s Top Ten Green Architecture Projects of 2010
  14. ^ KAUST Library - 2011 AIA / ALA Library Building Awards
  15. ^ a b c d "KAUST Research". King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Abdullah University of Science and Technology
  19. ^ "KAUST Academics". King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. 
  20. ^ Selingo, Jeff (22 April 2011). "Saudi Arabia’s Elite New University Pursues ‘High-Risk Research for a High Return’". The Chronicle. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  21. ^ "KAUST appoints new president". Asharq Alawsat. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^