Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman unveiled a new strategy for the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). He sits as the chairman of KAUST’s Board of Trustees.
In line with the kingdom’s Saudi Vision 2030 campaign, the KAUST strategy comprises several pivotal initiatives. The collective goal is to transform research into economically viable innovations and strengthen ties with the public and private sectors.
Elsewhere in the region, the UAE set up the Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) to undertake research in the disruptive science of AI in alignment with the research goals of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.
KAUST key initiatives
The first of the KAUST initiatives is the launch of the National Transformation Institute for Applied Research (NTI). It is designed to accelerate the technology development and commercialization needed to diversify the Saudi economy.
The second involves the revamping of research centers to realign their function with the kingdom’s priorities for research, development, and innovation. These priorities include sustainable environment and essential needs, energy and industrial leadership, health and wellness, and economies of the future.
Meanwhile, the third is the launch of a $200 mn fund (SAR750 mn), which will be used to invest in domestic and global high-tech companies. This is in an effort to boost economic diversification while generating quality technical employment opportunities.
New era for KAUST
The new strategy is poised to usher in a new era for KAUST. The university boasts a rich history, especially in terms of research and innovation. Since its foundation, “it has distinguished itself with its research, innovations, and faculty, to become one of the leading research universities in the world,” the Crown Prince stated.
According to the QS World University Rankings 2021, the academic institution is the world leader in terms of “citations per faculty.” Moreover, its research production made it to the top 25 percent of the highest-ranked scientific journals across the globe.
As for the quality of graduates it produces, KAUST has a stellar roster of alumni, with a number of them taking on key leadership and research roles in esteemed organizations, such as America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and NEOM.
The Crown Prince also hopes to create a conducive environment for researchers, faculty members, and students. The strategy aspires to empower them to use their knowledge to further strengthen various international and local partnerships.
These partnerships have resulted in various endeavors. Among these is the KAUST Reefscape Restoration Initiative in cooperation with NEOM, the kingdom’s innovative urban area project. NEOM and KAUST will restore coral reefs on the Red Sea’s Shushah Island. Once completed, it will be the world’s largest coral garden.
In addition, KAUST will continue to work with Aramco, SABIC, ACWA Power, Dow, Boeing, IBM, and other notable companies in and beyond the kingdom.
Another objective of the strategy is to create cooperation frameworks with premier universities and technology pioneers worldwide. For example, KAUST eyes to seal agreements with leading academic and commercial institutes in Shenzhen, China, for them to collaborate on applied research on aerospace, microelectronics, and robotics, among other advanced fields.
With all this, the university is expected to play a vital role in developing the kingdom’s higher education landscape. It continues to be at the forefront of nurturing emerging research leaders and accelerating the growth of advanced technology startups.
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