The National Day and the birth of KAUST

Sulaiman Althunayan
Sulaiman Althunayan

The National Day of our homeland is a glorious occasion and it is dearest to our hearts. This auspicious day coincides with another precious occasion that is also dear to my heart as well as to the hearts of all other Saudi citizens who witnessed their country’s march toward the future with a prudent vision and bold steps.

That was the occasion of the opening of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), coinciding with the National Day on Sept.23, 2009.

Now KAUST has become a towering beacon for knowledge with its academic, scientific, and research branches, to which I belong. With a quick reading of the two scenes (of the nation and the university) and the points of intersection between them, I can emphasize that the university drew inspiration from the unity of the homeland at the hands of its founder King Abdul Aziz for its glory, prestige, and richness of its traditions despite its very short age as an academic and research citadel.

This university, which was established nearly 12 years ago, now boasts of attracting scholars, researchers, and students representing nearly 100 nationalities, making it the most distinguished for its diversity and conforming to the concept of peaceful coexistence that our country has been championing for in all international forums.

The university’s uniqueness is not confined to the multiplicity of the nationalities of its students and staffers alone, but also to the multiplicity of its achievements in research, as the university has proven — or more precisely it has consolidated — the concept that scientific research is an integral part of the priorities of countries that seek to excel and develop in diverse fields.

The importance of this is evident in the fields that are affecting humans, and that are the four fields that KAUST has devoted itself to in all its researches — water, environment, energy, and food. In this context, the credit goes to the university for producing a wonderful group of distinguished Saudi researchers in all these fields to the world.

The university has also directed the scientific research compass to what matters to the environment, considering that the challenge of the environment and its preservation is one of the most important challenges facing humanity in this century.

KAUST has carried out a lot of activities and researches to preserve the environment of the Red Sea and to explore its treasures while strongly safeguarding its marine creatures that are vulnerable to extinction. It has been recorded well as the first Saudi university to obtain the Saudi Wildlife Authority certificate for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

The main focus of the Vision of the Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, who is also the chairman of the Board of Trustees of KAUST, is to empower the youth. The university has introduced countless initiatives in this field, and a large number of young Saudis have benefited from them. KAUST also contributed to the development of the infrastructure and urbanization of the town of Thuwal where the university is situated.

The prestigious areas of activities that are of concern to our country such as serving Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, empowerment of women, and domestic tourism, were important for KAUST to contribute effectively to by providing all scientific solutions and electronic applications for them. Regarding this, the university’s role did not stop at these activities. Rather, it participated scientifically with many government agencies in exchanging experiences and building close strategic relationships too.