King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلوم والتقنية
Motto "Through Inspiration, Discovery"
Type Private
Established September 5, 2009
Endowment 20 Billion US dollars
President Jean-Lou Chameau
Undergraduates None
Postgraduates 1200[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)
Colors Green, yellow, orange, blue

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.

KAUST was founded in 2009 and focuses on graduate education and research, using English as the official language of instruction. It offers programs in Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering; Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science and Engineering; and Physical Science and Engineering. It was announced in 2013 that KAUST had one of the fastest growing research and citation records in the world.[2] KAUST was ranked as the world's top university in (citations per faculty) ranking indicator as per QS World University Rankings for 2015-2016[3] and 2016-2017.[4]


KAUST officially opened on September 23, 2009.


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, is sited on more than 36 square kilometres (14 sq mi), encompassing a marine sanctuary and research facility.[5]

KAUST is the first mixed-gender university campus in Saudi Arabia. Saudi authorities hope the mixed-gender center will help modernize the Kingdom's deeply conservative society.[6] 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.[7]

KAUST was Saudi Arabia's first LEED certified project and is the world's largest LEED Platinum campus.[8] 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.[9] The university library received the 2011 AIA/ALA Library Building Award for accomplishments in library architecture.[10]


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).[11]

Research and Technology Park

The research park allows technology-based businesses to establish office space, laboratory space or R&D and demonstration facilities. The park also provides incubators for technology startups. 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.[12]

Residential neighborhoods

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

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).[13]

KAUST focuses on research that applies science and technology to problems of human need, social advancement, and economic development.[11] The main research thrusts are Resources, Energy and Environment; Biosciences and Bioengineering; Materials Science and Engineering; Applied Mathematics and Computational Science.[11]

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.[11]

Organization and administration

The first president of the university was Choon Fong Shih.[14] 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.[15]

The board of trustees 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).[16]

KAUST has established self-directed organizations. 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.[17]


As of September 2014, KAUST has 840 students in total. The student population comes from over 60 nationalities from all continents. The largest single national representation is from China with India in second place. Saudi Arabia is the third most prevalent nationality of the student make up.


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