Thawal, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz said that throughout history, power has attached itself (after God) to science and the Muslim Ummah is well aware that it will not be powerful unless it depends (after God) upon science. The King also stressed that science and faith are only adversaries in sick minds, and God has graced us with our minds so that we can understand and recognize God’s laws of nature.
King Abdullah made these comments during his speech at the opening ceremony for the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology [KAUST] in Thawal in western Saudi Arabia. The opening ceremony, which coincided with the celebration of Saudi Arabia’s 79th National Day, was attended by a number of leaders and representatives from Arab and Islamic countries.
King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz said, “The University that we are opening today is not starting from scratch [rather] it is the continuation of what distinguished our civilization in its age of prosperity.”
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques added, “Humanity has been the target of vicious attacks from extremists who fear dialogue, pursue destruction and speak the language of hatred. We cannot fight them unless we establish coexistence without conflict, with love instead of hatred, friendship instead of confrontation. Undoubtedly scientific centres that embrace all peoples are the first line of defence against extremists. And today this university will become a “house of wisdom”…and a beacon of tolerance. This is the third meaning of the university.”
Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Ali al Naimi, who is also serving as KAUST Chairman of the Board of Trustees said that Saudi Arabia will continue to be the world’s primary energy supplier; however he asserted that in the future this will also include energy sources other than oil, such as solar energy. Al Naimi hinted that KAUST will be conducting research into solar energy.
For his part, Saudi Minister for Higher Education, Dr. Khaled al Anqari said that KAUST will enable Saudi Arabia to exploit and enhance all of its current resources, and that finding real modern [energy] alternatives will ensure the happiness and prosperity of future generations.
Dr. Jian-Kang Zhu, who is the Director of the Plant Stress Genomic and Technology Research Center and is one of the foreign experts working at KAUST, also announced that the university is planning to launch an ambitious scientific research project into wheat cultivation in the Saudi desert by using water from the Red Sea.
KAUST President Choon Fong Shih said that the university is aiming to discover and exchange knowledge and information, and would bring together leading scientists from across the world.