King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) ( ) is a public
Public university
A public university is a university that is predominantly funded by public means through a national or subnational government, as opposed to private universities. A national university may or may not be considered a public university, depending on regions...

 research university located in Thuwal
Thuwal is a village belonging to the governorate of Jeddah in the Makkah Province of Saudi Arabia 80 kilometers north of Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...


KAUST was founded in 2009 and focuses exclusively on graduate education and research, using English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 as the official language of instruction. It offers programs in life Sciences
Life sciences
The life sciences comprise the fields of science that involve the scientific study of living organisms, like plants, animals, and human beings. While biology remains the centerpiece of the life sciences, technological advances in molecular biology and biotechnology have led to a burgeoning of...

, engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

, computer Sciences
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, and physical sciences.


KAUST officially opened on September 23, 2009, in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud invited more than 3,000 distinguished Saudis and international guests, including heads of state and Nobel laureates, to join him for the KAUST Inauguration Ceremony on Saudi National Day. During the inauguration, HRH King Abdullah awarded the senior management staff the highest rank of King Abdulaziz's medal of honor and appreciation, the minister of petroleum getting the platinum and Waleed AlBedaiwi getting the gold. Although Saudi authorities did not mention the financial side of the honor, it is widely known that the king awarded them a great cash bonus and many valuable gifts, as this is the tradition in Saudi Arabia.

The university launched an inauguration website to allow people from around the world to participate in the event. This website featured a live event webcast, and information about the university's research agenda, lab facilities, faculty, students, and community.


KAUST’s core campus, located on the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 at Thuwal
Thuwal is a village belonging to the governorate of Jeddah in the Makkah Province of Saudi Arabia 80 kilometers north of Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea...

, is sited on more than 36 square kilometre, encompassing a marine sanctuary and research facility.

KAUST is the first mixed-gender university campus in Saudi Arabia. Saudi authorities hope the mixed-gender center will help modernise the kingdom's deeply conservative society. 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 veil
A veil is an article of clothing, worn almost exclusively by women, that is intended to cover some part of the head or face.One view is that as a religious item, it is intended to show honor to an object or space...

s in the coeducational classes.

There are many hubs of community activity, including Discovery Square, multiple gym facilities, libraries, and many coffee shops. Discovery Square features a modern movie theater, a grocery store, and several restaurants (offering traditional Middle Eastern food, American fast food, and Pakistani/Indian food). The gym facilities include exercise equipment, free weights, racquet sports, bowling, and rock climbing, among other things. The campus is still under development in early 2011, with new stores and restaurants opening periodically.

KAUST is Saudi Arabia's first and the world's largest LEED
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design consists of a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods....

-certified project. It was also chosen by the American Institute of Architects
American Institute of Architects
The American Institute of Architects is a professional organization for architects in the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the AIA offers education, government advocacy, community redevelopment, and public outreach to support the architecture profession and improve its public image...

 (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) as one of the 2010 Top Ten Green Projects.


Cutting-edge laboratories will enable researchers to make major scientific breakthroughs at KAUST. Other research institutions in the Kingdom and the region will link to the university’s supercomputer and other laboratory facilities through the 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) Saudi Arabian Advanced Research and Education Network (SAREN).
  • Supercomputer
    A supercomputer is a computer at the frontline of current processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation.Supercomputers are used for highly calculation-intensive tasks such as problems including quantum physics, weather forecasting, climate research, molecular modeling A supercomputer is a...

    : Shaheen—the Arabic word for peregrine falcon
    Peregrine Falcon
    The Peregrine Falcon , also known as the Peregrine, and historically as the Duck Hawk in North America, is a widespread bird of prey in the family Falconidae. A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-gray back, barred white underparts, and a black head and "moustache"...

    —is the fastest supercomputer in the Middle East
    Middle East
    The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

     and one of the most powerful in the world. Developed by IBM
    International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

    , it is capable of 222 teraflops, or 222 trillion floating point
    Floating point
    In computing, floating point describes a method of representing real numbers in a way that can support a wide range of values. Numbers are, in general, represented approximately to a fixed number of significant digits and scaled using an exponent. The base for the scaling is normally 2, 10 or 16...

     operations per second.
  • Visualization: CORNEA is a fully immersive, six-sided virtual reality
    Virtual reality
    Virtual reality , also known as virtuality, is a term that applies to computer-simulated environments that can simulate physical presence in places in the real world, as well as in imaginary worlds...

     facility that gives students and researchers the ability to turn data into 3D structures that they can interact with and examine. It was built in partnership with the University of California, San Diego
    University of California, San Diego
    The University of California, San Diego, commonly known as UCSD or UC San Diego, is a public research university located in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, United States...

  • Nanofabrication, Imaging, and Characterization: A clean-room environment equipped with leading-edge tools to support research in advanced materials, biotechnology
    Biotechnology is a field of applied biology that involves the use of living organisms and bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other fields requiring bioproducts. Biotechnology also utilizes these products for manufacturing purpose...

    , electronics
    Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

     and photonics
    The science of photonics includes the generation, emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, detection and sensing of light. The term photonics thereby emphasizes that photons are neither particles nor waves — they are different in that they have both particle...

    , and MEMS
    Microelectromechanical systems
    Microelectromechanical systems is the technology of very small mechanical devices driven by electricity; it merges at the nano-scale into nanoelectromechanical systems and nanotechnology...

    Nanoelectromechanical systems
    Nanoelectromechanical systems are devices integrating electrical and mechanical functionality on the nanoscale. NEMS form the logical next miniaturization step from so-called microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS devices...

    . The Imaging and Characterization Labs include a suite of 10 advanced nuclear magnetic resonance
    Nuclear magnetic resonance
    Nuclear magnetic resonance is a physical phenomenon in which magnetic nuclei in a magnetic field absorb and re-emit electromagnetic radiation...

     (NMR) spectrometers and facilities for scanning, transmission, confocal, and Raman Spectroscopy
    Raman spectroscopy
    Raman spectroscopy is a spectroscopic technique used to study vibrational, rotational, and other low-frequency modes in a system.It relies on inelastic scattering, or Raman scattering, of monochromatic light, usually from a laser in the visible, near infrared, or near ultraviolet range...

    , magnetic and thermal measurements, allowing scientists to examine nanostructure devices and surfaces down to the level of individual atoms.
  • Coastal and Marine Resources: Located next to the Red Sea
    Red Sea
    The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

    , the Coastal and Marine Resources Lab facilitates marine research. The facility builds and deploys modern oceanographic instrumentation and provides operational services to support research vessels for marine exploration, diving, and sampling. Indoor and outdoor seawater facilities allow researchers to culture marine organisms.
  • Analytical Core: These labs boast highly skilled staff focusing on spectroscopy
    Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction between matter and radiated energy. Historically, spectroscopy originated through the study of visible light dispersed according to its wavelength, e.g., by a prism. Later the concept was expanded greatly to comprise any interaction with radiative...

    , chromatography
    Chromatography is the collective term for a set of laboratory techniques for the separation of mixtures....

     and mass spectrometry
    Mass spectrometry
    Mass spectrometry is an analytical technique that measures the mass-to-charge ratio of charged particles.It is used for determining masses of particles, for determining the elemental composition of a sample or molecule, and for elucidating the chemical structures of molecules, such as peptides and...

    , trace metals analysis, wet chemistry, and surface analysis.
  • Biosciences and Bioengineering: These facilities include genomic
    Genomics is a discipline in genetics concerning the study of the genomes of organisms. The field includes intensive efforts to determine the entire DNA sequence of organisms and fine-scale genetic mapping efforts. The field also includes studies of intragenomic phenomena such as heterosis,...

     and proteomic
    Proteomics is the large-scale study of proteins, particularly their structures and functions. Proteins are vital parts of living organisms, as they are the main components of the physiological metabolic pathways of cells. The term "proteomics" was first coined in 1997 to make an analogy with...

     labs essential to the study of cellular molecules for DNA sequencing
    DNA sequencing
    DNA sequencing includes several methods and technologies that are used for determining the order of the nucleotide bases—adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine—in a molecule of DNA....

     and genetic analysis
    Genetic analysis
    Genetic analysis can be used generally to describe methods both used in and resulting from the sciences of genetics and molecular biology, or to applications resulting from this research....

    , as well as the investigation of cellular processes. The genomics facility is equipped with robots and laboratory automation.

Academics and research

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) organizes interdisciplinary collaborative research teams of faculty and students, without regard to disciplinary boundaries, across three academic divisions: (1) Chemical and Life Sciences and Engineering; (2) Mathematical and Computer Sciences and Engineering; and (3) Physical Sciences and Engineering. KAUST offers two graduate programs in the various fields: a Master of Science
Master of Science
A Master of Science is a postgraduate academic master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The degree is typically studied for in the sciences including the social sciences.-Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay:...

 degree (18 months) and a Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 program (3-4 years involving original research that culminates in a dissertation.

Degrees are offered in 11 fields of study:
KAUST focuses on research that applies science and technology to problems of human need, social advancement, and economic development. Four strategic research thrusts build KAUST’s research agenda: Resources, Energy and Environment; Biosciences and Bioengineering; Materials Science and Engineering; Applied Mathematics and Computational Science.

To support these thrusts, KAUST established multidisciplinary Research Centers focused on catalysis, clean combustion, computational bioscience, geometric modeling and scientific visualization, membranes, plant stress genomics and technology, Red Sea science and engineering, solar and alternative energy science and engineering, and water desalination and reuse.

Organisation and administration

Saudi ARAMCO is currently operating all the non-academic aspects of KAUST, i.e. the Facilities and Community Services Department. Saudi ARAMCO plans to be phased out of KAUST operations by June 2010. The previous university Executive Director of Facilities and Community Services was Mr.Waleed Al-Bedaiwi, CEO Saudi ARAMCO. Above HE.ENG. Ali Al-Naimi Minister of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia.

The board of trustees, under the leadership of its chairman, H.E. Minister Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, comprises international leaders in academia, science, finance, industry, and public life.

In accordance with the university’s charter, members of this fully independent, self-perpetuating body oversee the university’s activities and monitor its progress and development. The 20-member board appoints the president of KAUST and approves the appointment of senior administrators and faculty members. It is responsible for approving rules that regulate academic, financial, and administrative affairs at the University, and for providing support to the officers who manage day-to-day operations.


KAUST currently has between 650 and 700 students. The majority of these students are enrolled in Masters programs, but the PhD student population is growing steadily as of 2011. The student population comes from over 60 different nationalities from all continents. The largest single national representation is from China with Mexico in second place. Saudi Arabia is the third most prevalent nationality of the student make up.

MS students admitted on the Discovery Scholarship receive free housing and health care, as well as a standard stipend of US $20,000 annually. The stipend for PhD studies is higher, and top students may receive additional awards in the range of US $6,000 above and beyond their base stipend in the form of the KAUST Provost Award. Currently students are eligible for repatriation flights to their home country once per year as an additional benefit.

Further reading

External links

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