Thawal, Asharq Al-Awsat – Over 100 local and foreign media bodies competed to cover the opening ceremony for the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology [KAUST] that was held last Wednesday. KAUST is the largest research university in the region, and its opening ceremony coincided with celebrations of the 79th Saudi National Day. All of these media representatives sought to produce the best reports and footage of the event.
Farouk al Zoman, a project manager at Attariq Communications, which is working in coordination with KAUST, said that 200 media ID cards were issued to media figures covering the KAUST opening ceremony. The 200 media representatives visited the KAUST campus in Thuwal over the past few days, and are transported there daily in a convoy of buses.
Mr. al Zoman also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the plan of the media representatives to cover the opening ceremony means leaving the Meridian hotel in Jeddah in two batches.” He also revealed that the organization committee offered the visiting delegations and the media representatives the opportunity to visit the university on Thursday, allowing them access to the KAUST campus, including its laboratories, classrooms, and exhibitions.
Prior to the opening ceremony, al Zoman told Asharq Al-Awsat that at least 3,000 visitors were expected to attend the ceremony.
For his part, Major General Adel Zamzami, the Chief of Civil Defense in Mecca, announced that 16 fire engines and ambulances were deployed along the route to the governorate of Thuwal.
Major General Zamzami told Asharq Al-Awsat, “These teams are fully equipped to intervene in emergency cases, and they will be present on campus, at the King Abdullah Economic City [KAEC], as well as along all routes leading to Thuwal, in order to serve the guests.”
A source in the organization committee disclosed that the majority of five star hotels in Jeddah have been booked by visitors to the KAEC opening ceremony. Officials in the traffic department announced the closure of the highway to Medina from Hera Street to the Saber Bridge in the Rabigh governorate. Extensive security patrols were also being carried out throughout the area, and along all routes to KAUST.
KAUST also launched a specialized media center to serve the media representatives in their coverage of the opening ceremony, and the media center was more than equipped to handle the 200 representatives that attended the event.
Saudi Minister for Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Ali al Naimi, who is also serving as KAUST Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said that at this early stage it is not easy to give full assurances that all the goals set by the university will be achieved, especially as KAUST’s scientific targets are substantial and advanced. He called for continuing efforts to ensure that these achievements are made in the future.
The university is located in the governorate of Thuwal, 90 km north of Jeddah.