In a November 2006 study conducted by the Spanish “Webometrics Ranking of World Universities” initiative the leading research institution of Saudi Arabia, the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, was ranked 2,998 out of 3,000 universities worldwide.
Clearly, such a report shows the wide gap between the oil-rich Kingdom and the modern world.
However, the balance of future studies will be tipped once King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) comes into existence in just a couple years.
Last month, at the groundbreaking ceremony, his majesty King Abdullah laid the foundation stone to establish, from scratch, a world-class, graduate level university to be the beacon of knowledge of all times.
The Monarch has graciously allocated $10 billion for the scientific and technological monument, which is expected to take the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the next level of civilization and modernization and help it pick up the pace to catch up with the West.
At the research institute KAUST, local students will have the opportunity to study side by side with their counterparts from various parts of the globe and, together, make new discoveries and achieve “advanced scientific research [and] collaboration with the world’s leading academic institutions,” according to a speech by Nadhmi Al-Nasr, the interim president of KAUST, at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Surrounded by the beauty of the Red Sea, the futuristic and aesthetic campus will be an astounding blend of traditional Middle Eastern architectural styles with a contemporary flavor.
Around 20,000 of the world’s most talented students, researchers and scientists will be housed at the KAUST campus while enjoying fishing in artificial canals or diving into the breathtaking marine life of the Red Sea.
The Saudi Arabian Oil Company, Aramco – the world’s largest oil producer – has been privileged by the King to transform this promising vision into thriving reality.
One of the objectives of KAUST’s planning board is to provide students of different backgrounds with an open and free environment that eliminates some of the restrictions that apply off-campus.
For instance, inside the academic city, women will be allowed to drive.
“Because Aramco is founding the university, I believe it will have freedom,” said Abdulmalik A. Aljinaidi, dean of the research and consultation institute at King Abdulaziz University, in an interview with the New York Times.
Today, CSU is ranked among the top three universities in the U.S. for enrollment of Saudi Students.
Perhaps one day KAUST and CSU will embark on an exchange program to bring the two nations closer in an atmosphere of mutual respect, harmony and prosperity.
Zaki Safar is a senior electrical and computer engineering major and a member of the Saudi Student House at CSU. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.