Saudis were given three reasons to celebrate this Eid al Fitr; the first was the blessed event itself which marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the second was the celebration of the Saudi National Day, which has become a tradition that is celebrated and cherished by Saudi Arabians. [Saudi National Day] is a day for encouraging the concepts of nationalism, belonging, citizenship and allegiance. The third event was the celebration of the launch of the most important cultural project in Saudi Arabian history; the inauguration of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology [KAUST]. This project is far more than just a university. It is, in fact, an integrated cultural framework and a practical embodiment and realization of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz’s dream to establish an international, educational edifice which illustrates important reformative slogans – slogans focusing on national dialogue, educational reform, dialogue between civilizations and programs for studying abroad and others. These have all become part of the idea of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
The concept behind this university was new and different with regards to all its details. It has an exceptional Board of Trustees, which characterizes the effective and balanced partnership between the private and public, and local and international, sectors. The funding process was also the product of a brilliant idea that transformed traditional forms of funding into a major stream of donations which was managed in a professional and independent manner.
The design and implementation of this project also took place in a new and original manner, and innovation and efficiency reigned supreme. Saudi Aramco, which is known for its sincerity, achievement and responsibility, undertook the challenge of converting this dazzling vision into reality in record time, achieving multiple goals by doing so. [Not only did Aramco successfully complete this project] it also embarrassed several other sectors by doing so. This is an achievement that Aramco Chairman Khalid al Falih and his team should be credited for. The design took into account several important elements such as: creating an aesthetic appeal by making the most of the site’s location overlooking the Red Sea; making the most of the natural scenery so that the structure is built in harmony with its surrounding environment, as well as using the most advanced technology to utilize energy in the most efficient manner possible. Of course all of this is the “hardware” of the university, but there is also the university’s “software” to speak about. By this, we mean the quality of its curriculum, and the academic and educational team which has been chosen according to the highest standards without making any sacrifices for economic or social reasons. Moreover, strict criteria for student admissions have also been applied, so that the university can become a competitor on the global stage and benefit itself and Saudi Arabia in general.
In the same way that Aramco has been a beacon of culture, progress and development in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia; a beacon that has contributed to boosting different sectors such as environment, health and education, and in the same manner that the [King Faisal] Specialist Hospital has done this in Riyadh, and Saudi Airlines has endeavoured to do this in Jeddah, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology is about to become a beacon of reform, knowledge and development for the entire country, regardless of the geographical location.
Thawal was a very small town that was previously used as a rest station between Jeddah and Medina and was traditionally a center for fishermen and seafood restaurants; however it has now been transformed into a key destination on the world map and the map of education. The world is eagerly watching to see whether King Abdullah’s dream will come true on behalf of his nation, taking the country to a whole new level.
The success of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology is not a desire or a wish, but rather a commitment, and this is the duty for all of us to achieve. Indeed, this is an Eid that deserves special celebration, and so let us say congratulations.