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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلوم والتقنية
Motto "Through Inspiration, Discovery"
Established 5 September 2009
Type Public
Endowment US$20 billion[1]
President Jean-Lou Chameau
Undergraduates None
Postgraduates 1200[2]
Location Thuwal, Makkah Province, Saudi Arabia
Campus 3,600 hectares (8,900 acres)
Colours Green, yellow, orange, blue

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (Arabic: جامعة الملك عبد الله للعلوم و التقنية - كاوستǧāmiʿat al-malik ʿabd al-Lāh li-l-ʿulūm wa-t-teqniyya – KAUST) is a public research university located in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. KAUST was built and is operated by Saudi Aramco.[3]

With the aim of rekindling science in the Islamic world, KAUST was founded in 2009 and focuses exclusively on graduate education and research, using English as the official language of instruction. It offers programs in Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering; Computer, Electrical, and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering; and Physical Sciences and Engineering. The University achieved significant progress in a very short time and is currently among one of the world's most productive universities in terms of research. It was recently announced that KAUST has one of the fastest growing research and citation records in the world right now.[4] As of 2014, QS World University Rankings rated KAUST's research record as 99.9%, which is higher than that of the University of Tokyo (88.6%), Yale University (92.2%), University of Oxford (96.6%), University of California, Berkeley (96.6%), the University of Michigan (97.2%), University of Cambridge (97.9%) and Princeton University (99.5%).[5]


  • History 1
  • Campus 2
    • Laboratories 2.1
  • Academics and research 3
    • Admissions 3.1
  • Organization and administration 4
  • Students 5
  • Building Design Information 6
  • References 7


KAUST officially opened on 23 September 2009, in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud invited more than 3,000 distinguished Saudi 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, 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. 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.[6]

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.[6]


Campus laboratories with town buildings and mosque on the left
Residential street with outdoor sculpture

KAUST’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.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9]

Hubs of community activity, include Discovery Square, multiple gym facilities, libraries, and coffee shops. Discovery Square features a movie theater, a grocery store, and several restaurants (offering, American fast food, Indian food, Pizza and Ice cream). The gym facilities include exercise equipment, free weights, racquet sports, bowling, and rock climbing.

KAUST was Saudi Arabia's first LEED certified project and is the world's largest LEED Platinum campus.[10] 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.[11]


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).[12]

Academics and research

University organizes interdisciplinary collaborative research teams across three academic divisions Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering; Computer, Electrical, and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering; and Physical Sciences and Engineering. It offers two graduate programs: a Master of Science degree (18 months) and a Ph.D. program (3–4 years).[13]

Degrees are offered in 11 fields of study:

  • Applied Mathematics and Computational Science (AMCS)
  • Bioscience (B)
  • Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE)
  • Chemical Science (ChemS)
  • Computer Science (CS)
  • Earth Science and Engineering (ErSE)
  • Electrical Engineering (EE)
  • Environmental Science and Engineering (EnSE)
  • Marine Science (MarS)
  • Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)
  • Mechanical Engineering (ME)

KAUST focuses on research that applies science and technology to problems of human need, social advancement, and economic development.[12] 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.[12]

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.[12]


KAUST has one of the world's lowest acceptance rates, each year about 200-250 students are accepted out of a pool of 5000-8000 applicants. GRE scores are not mandatory for admission. Since the language of instruction at KAUST is English, a minimum TOEFL score of 79 is required for admission.

Organization and administration

The previous university executive director of facilities and community services was Waleed Al-Bedaiwi. Above Ali Al-Naimi Minister of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia.

The first president of the university was Choon Fong Shih.[14] On 16 February 2013, the executive committee of the board of trustees at KAUST appointed Jean-Lou Chameau, the former president of California Institute of Technology, as the new President of KAUST.[15]

KAUST has established various 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.[16]


KAUST has between 700 and 1000 students. The PhD student population is growing steadily as of 2011. 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.

Building Design Information

  • Size: 4 million square feet; 2.1 million square foot laboratory; 5.2 million square foot campus
  • Owner: Aramco, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
  • Architect, Lab Planner, Lead MEP Engineer, Interiors: HOK
  • Architect of Record: Oger International, Paris
  • MEP (Fire Protection): R.G. Vanderweil Engineers, Boston
  • MEP (Energy Modeling): Affiliated Engineers Inc., Seattle
  • Structural Engineer: HOK and Walter P. Moore, Houston
  • Environmental Consultant: RWDI, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  • Civil Engineer: LJA Engineering, Houston
  • Landscape Architect: HOK Planning Group, Atlanta
  • Lighting Design and Consulting: HOK and Pivotal Lighting Design, Seattle

Awarded Lab of the Year for 2011 by R&D Magazine


  1. ^ Sciencemag
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b "KAUST Inauguration Ceremony Looping Feed". King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. 
  7. ^ "KAUST general FAQs". King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Retrieved 2 October 2009. 
  8. ^ Slackman, Michael (18 November 2009). "A Saudi Gamble to See if Seeds of Change Will Grow". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  9. ^ BBC - Saudis open hi-tech science oasis
  10. ^ World's largest LEED-Platinum project finds place in Top Ten Green Projects
  11. ^ AIA’s Top Ten Green Architecture Projects of 2010
  12. ^ a b c d e "KAUST Research". King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. 
  13. ^ "KAUST Academics". King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. 
  14. ^ Selingo, Jeff (22 April 2011). "Saudi Arabia’s Elite New University Pursues ‘High-Risk Research for a High Return’". The Chronicle. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "KAUST appoints new president". Asharq Alawsat. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  16. ^
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