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"
EstablishedSeptember 23, 2009
Endowment$20 billion[1]
ChairmanMohammed bin Salman
PresidentTony F. Chan
Postgraduates940 (2016)[2]
4700 King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
, , ,
Coordinates: 22°18′45″N 39°06′38″E / 22.312602°N 39.11047°E / 22.312602; 39.11047
Campus3,600 hectares (8,900 acres)

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (Arabic: جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلوم و التقنيةjāmiʿat al-malik ʿabd al-Lāh li-l-ʿulūm wa-t-teqniyya) is a private research university located in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. Founded in 2009, the university provides research and graduate training programs in English as the official language of instruction.

KAUST is the first mixed-gender university campus in Saudi Arabia.[3] In 2013, the university was among the 500 fastest growing research and citation records in the world.[4] In the 2016 Nature Index Rising Stars, the university ranked 19th in the world of the fastest rising universities for high quality research output.[5] In 2019 KAUST is ranked 8th fastest rising young universities (aged 50 and under) for their research output since 2015, as measured by fractional count (FC).[6]


In 2006, Ali Al-Naimi chaired a Saudi Aramco team to undertake the building and planning of the academics. Nadhmi Al-Nasr was chosen to lead the project. They employed the Washington Advisory Group's Frank H. T. Rhodes and Frank Press to design the academic structure, SRI International to develop the four research institutes, and the architectural firm of HOK for the campus master plan, which included wind towers and solar panels. The location of the campus at Thuwal included 16.4 sq km on land and 19.6 sq km of marine sanctuary offshore. Ground breaking took place in Oct. 2007, and 178 scholarships were awarded in Jan. 2008.[1]

KAUST officially opened on September 23, 2009 at an inauguration ceremony, where King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud gave a speech where he stated that places like the University that "embrace all people are the first line of defence against extremists". The University initially received a $10 billion endowment.[7][8] Upon opening, the University admitted 400 students from over 60 countries and 70 faculty. The campus is home to Shaheen, Asia's fastest supercomputer.[9]



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,[10] is sited on more than 36 square kilometres (14 sq mi), encompassing a marine sanctuary, museum, and research facility.[11]

KAUST is the first mixed-gender university campus in Saudi Arabia.[3] Saudi authorities hope the mixed-gender center will help modernize the Kingdom's deeply conservative society.[12] The religious police do not operate on-site. Women are allowed to mix freely with men and they are not required to wear veils in the coeducational classes.[13]

KAUST was Saudi Arabia's first LEED certified project and is the world's largest LEED Platinum campus.[14] Designed by international architecture firm Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, 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.[15] The university library received the 2011 AIA/ALA Library Building Award for accomplishments in library architecture.[16]

Core Laboratories[edit]

The 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. Staff Scientists train users and run the equipment.

Research and Technology Park[edit]

The Research and Technology Park occupies around 2.7 million square meters of space next to the academic campus. Current tenants include Saudi Aramco, Dow Chemical and SABIC.

University bodies[edit]


The following individuals have served as President of KAUST:


As of September 2017, KAUST has 1000 students in total and 1300 alumni.[21] The University hosted students from over 60 countries, 69% of students are international and 31% are from Saudi Arabia.[21] 80% of the postgraduate students are undertaking Ph.D. studies, whilst 20% are studying for an M.S.[21] KAUST's student population includes 37% female and 63% male. 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.[22] 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 US, China, the U.K. and Canada.

Distinguished professors[edit]

  • Jean-Marie Basset - French chemist, Professor of Chemical Science at KAUST.
  • Mohamed Eddaoudi - Professor of Chemical Science, Director of the Advanced Membranes and Porous Materials Research Center.
  • Mootaz Elnozahy - Egyptian-American scientist, Dean of the Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering Division.
  • Jean Fréchet - French-American chemist, Professor of Chemical Science and Senior Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Economic Development.
  • Nina Federoff - American biologist, Professor Emerita.
  • Marc Genton - Professor of Statistics at KAUST
  • Yves Gnanou - Professor of Chemical Science, Dean of the Physical Science and Engineering division.
  • Takashi Gojoburi - Japanese molecular biologist, Professor of Bioscience and Associate Director of the Computational Bioscience Research Center.
  • Nikos Hadjichristidis - Professor of Chemical Science.
  • Pierre Magistretti - Professor of Bioscience, Dean of the Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division.
  • Peter Markowich - Professor of Applied Mathematics and Computational Science.

Research Centers[edit]

KAUST's research centers bring together faculty members, researchers and graduate students from various disciplines:[23]

Name Launch date Research area
Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC) 21 February 2014 Pollutant Control, Global warming, Usage, Climate change
Advanced Membranes and Porous Materials Center 6 March 2012 Membrane and absorption-based process research
Ali I. Al-Naimi Petroleum Engineering Research Center Upstream petroleum engineering
Computational Bioscience Research Center Computational biology, Bioinformatics
Extreme Computing Research Center Algorithms, Applications for emerging architectures
KAUST Catalysis Center 6 December 2010 Carbon dioxide chemistry, Photo-dissociation of water, bio-mass conversion, Fischer–Tropsch process
KAUST Solar Center Solar energy conversion, Solar cells, Photovoltaic systems
Red Sea Research Center 9 April 2011 Biosphere of the Red Sea, ecological conditions and ecological sustenance
Visual Computing Center 5 September 2009 Visual information processes
Water Desalination and Reuse Center 1 October 2010 Methods to improve water desalination processes
Saudi Aramco Research Center opening in 2019[24]

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).[25]

Bioscience (B) Computer Science (CS) [26] Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE)
Environmental Science and Engineering (EnSE) Applied Mathematics and Computational Science (AMCS) [27] Chemical Science (ChemS)
Marine Science (MarS) Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) [28] Earth Science and Engineering (ErSE)
Plant Science (PS) Statistics (STAT) [29] Energy Resources and Petroleum Engineering (ERPE)
- - Material Science and Engineering (MSE)
- - Mechanical Engineering (ME)
University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[30]201-300 (2019)
USNWR Global[31]152 (2019)

KAUST focuses on research that applies science and technology to problems of human need, social advancement, and economic development. The main research thrusts are Resources, Energy and Environment; Biosciences and Bioengineering; Materials Science and Engineering; Applied Mathematics and Computational Science.[23]

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.[23]


Admission to KAUST is merit-based. There is no formal GPA requirement (the average GPA of admitted students is 3.7 out of 4.0). Applicants are required to submit a TOEFL examination and demonstrate proficiency in English (except for applicants holding a degree from an accredited university in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, or Canada). Upon approval of the admissions committee, 2nd-tier applicants must complete an interview with the admissions board. Decision notifications are sent through March and April.[32]

The KAUST Fellowship is the general scholarship program of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. All admitted students receive the benefits of the KAUST Fellowship which supports students for the duration of their graduate studies. The Fellowship includes full tuition support, provides a monthly living allowance, covers housing and medical costs, and relocation support.[32]

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 Shih Choon Fong.[17] 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 second President of KAUST.[18] Chameau retired in August 2017[19] and was replaced by Nadhmi Al-Nasr as interim president.

On 1 May 2018, the board of trustees announced the selection of Tony F. Chan as the third president starting on 1 September 2018.[20]

The board of trustees is headed by the former Saudi oil minister and OPEC leader Ali Al-Naimi. 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. 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 CEO of McKinsey & Company Dominic Barton, as well as 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).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Al-Naimi, Ali (2016). Out of the Desert. Great Britain: Portfolio Penguin. pp. 250–258. ISBN 9780241279250.
  2. ^ "Quick Facts" (PDF). King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b Ulf Laessing; Asma Alsharif (23 September 2009). "Saudi Arabia opens first mixed-gender university". Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  4. ^ Charles McPhedran (15 October 2013). "How Saudi Universities Rose in the Global Rankings". Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Top 100 institutions 2016". Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Top 10 fastest rising universities aged 50 and under". Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  7. ^ Kelly McEvers (16 November 2009). "Ambitious New University Opens In Saudi Arabia". Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  8. ^ "The King's Speech at KAUST Inauguration Ceremony". 23 September 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  9. ^ Siraj Wahab (23 September 2009). "KAUST: History in the making". Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "KAUST general FAQs". King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  12. ^ Slackman, Michael (18 November 2009). "A Saudi Gamble to See if Seeds of Change Will Grow". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  13. ^ "Saudis open hi-tech science oasis". 23 September 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Largest LEED Platinum project in the world". Construction Week Online Middle East. Retrieved 2020-01-16.
  15. ^ "2010 AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects". ArchDaily. 2010-04-22. Retrieved 2020-01-16.
  16. ^ KAUST Library - 2011 AIA / ALA Library Building Awards
  17. ^ a b 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.
  18. ^ a b "KAUST appoints new president". Asharq Alawsat. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  19. ^ a b Ellie Bothwell (1 June 2017). "Jean-Lou Chameau: the leader with the Midas touch". Times Higher Education.
  20. ^ a b Ellie Bothwell (1 May 2018). "Tony Chan appointed as next KAUST president: HKUST head to lead Saudi Arabian university from September". Times Higher Education.
  21. ^ a b c "KAUST Alumni". Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b c "Solutions through curiosity-driven and goal-oriented research". Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  24. ^ "Groundbreaking ceremony held for new Saudi Aramco research center at KAUST". 19 December 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  25. ^ "KAUST Academics". King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
  26. ^ "KAUST CS". King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
  27. ^ "KAUST AMCS". King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
  28. ^ "KAUST ECE". King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
  29. ^ "KAUST STAT". King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
  30. ^ Academic Ranking of World Universities 2019
  31. ^ U.S. News Education: Best Global Universities 2019
  32. ^ a b "Admissions FAQs". Retrieved 9 June 2018.