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Saudi Aramco Official: KAUST Envisioned as Global Center of Excellence in Research and Education - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat- Saudi Aramco’s senior vice president of Engineering and Operations Services, Salim S. Al-Aydh, has presented the company’s prominent role in Saudi Arabia’s growing chemicals industry as representing a balanced, intelligent approach to leveraging natural resources, according to a report carried yesterday by the company’s web-page.

In an address in Manama at the 7th International Conference and Exhibition on Chemistry in Industry (Chemindix 2007), Saudi Aramco’s senior vice president of Engineering and Operations Services, Salim S. Al-Aydh, presented the company’s prominent role in Saudi Arabia’s growing chemicals industry as representing a balanced, intelligent approach to leveraging natural resources.

One of the centerpieces of this role is Saudi Aramco’s spearheading of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) development. The university, to be located in Rabigh on the Kingdom’s west coast, is envisioned to be a global center of excellence in research and education.

Universities, Al-Aydh said in his address, are centers of both academic and social understanding, creating new and better generations of ideas and people.

“These institutions blend students and teachers from diverse cultures in a common cause, which is the furtherment of human knowledge,” he said. “Science, being knowledge without prejudice, can be the basis of understanding at the core of our common humanity.”

Al-Aydh also noted, however, that academics cannot stand alone, and hence Saudi Aramco continues to focus on its role in expanding Saudi Arabia’s economy through leveraging the Kingdom’s natural resources. “Today we are the center of the global oil industry,” he said. “By 2020, we will be the center of the global petrochemical industry.”

Al-Aydh cited the multi-billion PetroRabigh joint venture with Sumitomo Chemical of Japan, as well as the Ras Tanura integrated refining and petrochemicals plant being discussed with Dow Chemical, as examples of its strategy going forward. Each project, he pointed out, will include the construction of adjacent industrial complexes that will add further downstream value to the industry. But, in addition to leveraging oil for maximum value through these industrial developments, Al-Aydh said that the development of KAUST will leverage an even more valuable resource: the 56 percent of the Saudi population under 20 years old.

“I firmly believe that youth, not oil, is the real wealth of Saudi Arabia,” he said. “It is our intention to give our young people the opportunity to grow and develop.”

Thus, KAUST will focus on areas of opportunity for the chemicals industry, including:

— Resources, energy and the environment

— Biosciences and engineering

— Applied mathematics and computer science

— Materials science and engineering

The vision is clear, Al-Aydh concluded: “A confluence of humanity, a confluence of learning and a confluence of industry, underpinned by the Kingdom’s abundance of hydrocarbons and bright young minds.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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