KAUST Impact – Fall 2021

Page 1

KAUST IMPACT

KAUST’s Smart Home

Fall 2021

Climate and Environment Pages 15-20

Future Tech Pages 21-24

Special Section: Smart Cities Pages 35-44


2

CONTENTS From the President Dr. Tony F. Chan, President of KAUST

Welcome to the fourth edition of KAUST Impact, which underscores how

two new climate centers will leverage KAUST’s Shaheen supercomputer to

our researchers, students, leaders and partners are pooling their expertise to

enhance the predictions of the National Center for Meteorology (pg. 19).

respond to the world’s most significant challenges. This edition is interesting, not only to see the magazine’s development that has taken place in the six

No aspect of KAUST’s scientific, engineering or innovation campaigns will

months since the spring edition, but also the overall growth in two years

remain untouched by artificial intelligence. KAUST dramatically enhanced

since its inception. It has grown to capture more of our ideas, actions and

its already solid global positioning in artificial intelligence with the hire of

partnerships. KAUST’s research is becoming more focused, and as you will see

Dr. Jürgen Schmidhuber, whose algorithms for word completion and natural

from the range of feature stories, it is taking us to exciting realms. Its trajectory

language translation operate in the smartphone of everyone reading this (pgs.

aligns with the Kingdom’s sustainability goals, which, in turn, support the

21-22). KAUST is growing its faculty not only by recruiting internationally

global objectives of the UN and the G20 to create a constellation of smart

renowned experts who are accumulating a gratifying array of honors (pgs.

green technologies for regenerative and resilient circular carbon economies.

25-26), but also by searching for talent at the entry level, especially Saudi and female talent to reflect the diversity of our students. The Ibn Rushd Fellowship

At the inauguration of the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) in Riyadh, HRH the

(pg. 27) is one of many new programs instituted to achieve this end.

Minister of Energy Abdulaziz bin Salman al Saud announced the Kingdom’s goal of zero-net emissions by 2060. As a panelist at the event’s Youth Green

To help meet the Vision 2030 objectives, KAUST is working closely on

Summit, KAUST Distinguished Research Professor William McDonough,

giga-projects such as coral reef restoration (pgs. 5-8) with The Red Sea

recognized globally for his visionary cradle-to-cradle strategies, spoke about

Development Company (pg. 9) and NEOM. The Red Sea holds much more than

US President John F. Kennedy’s declaration of putting a man on the moon

biological interest for our faculty. Chemical Engineer Zhiping Lai has developed

within a decade. An ambitious mission at the turn of the 1960s, it was realized

an extraction process for lithium from concentrated brine in anticipation of

in nine years. McDonough used this story to suggest to both youth and adults

growing global demand for batteries needed for electric vehicle production

that we don’t have to wait until 2060 to realize our sustainability goals.

(pgs. 11-12). Ma’aden will make the ideal partner in scaling up this technology.

We can arrive ahead of schedule – and KAUST is well positioned to do so. KAUST is more than an engine of discovery and economic translation; it is Take, for example, Matt McCabe’s CubeSat nanosatellites (pg. 20), which

a living laboratory for the world of smart city innovations, as illustrated by

support the SGI by observing irrigation rates and crop health – information

the special section on KAUST Smart (pgs. 35-44) included in this issue. These

used with ground checks as training data for machine-learning systems to

make up just half of the stories included in KAUST Impact this fall, and I am

inform agricultural management. Meanwhile, agreements in support of

filled with anticipation for what the spring of 2022 will bring.

President Tony Chan

Coral 5 Developing the World’s Largest Coral Garden 7 Protecting and Restoring Resilience in Coral Reefs

Innovative Solutions 9 Bringing Expertise to The Red Sea Development Company 10 Local Solutions to COVID-19 Testing 11 Harvesting Lithium from Seawater 13 Solar Cleaning Solutions for Saudi Giga-Projects

Climate and Environment 15 17 18 19 20

Advocating Climate Solutions at COP26 Championing Youth Climate Engagement Promoting Green Investment and Research Assisting the Kingdom’s New Climate Centers Satellite Monitoring of Saudi Ecosystems and Oceans

Future Tech 21 Leading the Future of AI Research 23 Promoting High-Performance Composite Materials 24 Spurring the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Saudi Arabia

Talent 25 Receiving the Highest Scientific Honors 27 Diversifying Faculty to Empower Saudi Nationals and Women 28 Gaining Global Attention and Innovating to Reduce Food Waste 29 Delivering Talent to National and International Organizations

Outreach 30 Hosting Scientific Leaders from Across the Global South 31 Providing a Stage for Global Education Summits 32 Shaping the Future of Media 33 Leadership Development for Saudi Professionals 34 Empowering Saudi SMEs and Entrepreneurs

Special Section: Smart Cities 37 Creating a Human-Centric Smart City 39 Accelerating the Kingdom’s Digital Transformation 41 Leveraging KAUST as a Living Laboratory for Smart City Experiments 43 Better Living for Today, Tomorrow and the Future

Articles in this issue featuring activities aligned with one (or more) of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations – codified in 2015 and aimed at reducing poverty and hunger, improving health and education, and addressing climate change, environmental degradation and various social challenges – are marked with an icon representing the most closely associated goal. Also marked are articles that are applicable to Vision 2030 goals. KAUST’s mission is deeply intertwined with the development objectives of Vision 2030, such as diversifying the economy well beyond petroleum, embracing innovation, localizing advanced technology and expanding opportunities for Saudi citizens.


2

CONTENTS From the President Dr. Tony F. Chan, President of KAUST

Welcome to the fourth edition of KAUST Impact, which underscores how

two new climate centers will leverage KAUST’s Shaheen supercomputer to

our researchers, students, leaders and partners are pooling their expertise to

enhance the predictions of the National Center for Meteorology (pg. 19).

respond to the world’s most significant challenges. This edition is interesting, not only to see the magazine’s development that has taken place in the six

No aspect of KAUST’s scientific, engineering or innovation campaigns will

months since the spring edition, but also the overall growth in two years

remain untouched by artificial intelligence. KAUST dramatically enhanced

since its inception. It has grown to capture more of our ideas, actions and

its already solid global positioning in artificial intelligence with the hire of

partnerships. KAUST’s research is becoming more focused, and as you will see

Dr. Jürgen Schmidhuber, whose algorithms for word completion and natural

from the range of feature stories, it is taking us to exciting realms. Its trajectory

language translation operate in the smartphone of everyone reading this (pgs.

aligns with the Kingdom’s sustainability goals, which, in turn, support the

21-22). KAUST is growing its faculty not only by recruiting internationally

global objectives of the UN and the G20 to create a constellation of smart

renowned experts who are accumulating a gratifying array of honors (pgs.

green technologies for regenerative and resilient circular carbon economies.

25-26), but also by searching for talent at the entry level, especially Saudi and female talent to reflect the diversity of our students. The Ibn Rushd Fellowship

At the inauguration of the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) in Riyadh, HRH the

(pg. 27) is one of many new programs instituted to achieve this end.

Minister of Energy Abdulaziz bin Salman al Saud announced the Kingdom’s goal of zero-net emissions by 2060. As a panelist at the event’s Youth Green

To help meet the Vision 2030 objectives, KAUST is working closely on

Summit, KAUST Distinguished Research Professor William McDonough,

giga-projects such as coral reef restoration (pgs. 5-8) with The Red Sea

recognized globally for his visionary cradle-to-cradle strategies, spoke about

Development Company (pg. 9) and NEOM. The Red Sea holds much more than

US President John F. Kennedy’s declaration of putting a man on the moon

biological interest for our faculty. Chemical Engineer Zhiping Lai has developed

within a decade. An ambitious mission at the turn of the 1960s, it was realized

an extraction process for lithium from concentrated brine in anticipation of

in nine years. McDonough used this story to suggest to both youth and adults

growing global demand for batteries needed for electric vehicle production

that we don’t have to wait until 2060 to realize our sustainability goals.

(pgs. 11-12). Ma’aden will make the ideal partner in scaling up this technology.

We can arrive ahead of schedule – and KAUST is well positioned to do so. KAUST is more than an engine of discovery and economic translation; it is Take, for example, Matt McCabe’s CubeSat nanosatellites (pg. 20), which

a living laboratory for the world of smart city innovations, as illustrated by

support the SGI by observing irrigation rates and crop health – information

the special section on KAUST Smart (pgs. 35-44) included in this issue. These

used with ground checks as training data for machine-learning systems to

make up just half of the stories included in KAUST Impact this fall, and I am

inform agricultural management. Meanwhile, agreements in support of

filled with anticipation for what the spring of 2022 will bring.

President Tony Chan

Coral 5 Developing the World’s Largest Coral Garden 7 Protecting and Restoring Resilience in Coral Reefs

Innovative Solutions 9 Bringing Expertise to The Red Sea Development Company 10 Local Solutions to COVID-19 Testing 11 Harvesting Lithium from Seawater 13 Solar Cleaning Solutions for Saudi Giga-Projects

Climate and Environment 15 17 18 19 20

Advocating Climate Solutions at COP26 Championing Youth Climate Engagement Promoting Green Investment and Research Assisting the Kingdom’s New Climate Centers Satellite Monitoring of Saudi Ecosystems and Oceans

Future Tech 21 Leading the Future of AI Research 23 Promoting High-Performance Composite Materials 24 Spurring the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Saudi Arabia

Talent 25 Receiving the Highest Scientific Honors 27 Diversifying Faculty to Empower Saudi Nationals and Women 28 Gaining Global Attention and Innovating to Reduce Food Waste 29 Delivering Talent to National and International Organizations

Outreach 30 Hosting Scientific Leaders from Across the Global South 31 Providing a Stage for Global Education Summits 32 Shaping the Future of Media 33 Leadership Development for Saudi Professionals 34 Empowering Saudi SMEs and Entrepreneurs

Special Section: Smart Cities 37 Creating a Human-Centric Smart City 39 Accelerating the Kingdom’s Digital Transformation 41 Leveraging KAUST as a Living Laboratory for Smart City Experiments 43 Better Living for Today, Tomorrow and the Future

Articles in this issue featuring activities aligned with one (or more) of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations – codified in 2015 and aimed at reducing poverty and hunger, improving health and education, and addressing climate change, environmental degradation and various social challenges – are marked with an icon representing the most closely associated goal. Also marked are articles that are applicable to Vision 2030 goals. KAUST’s mission is deeply intertwined with the development objectives of Vision 2030, such as diversifying the economy well beyond petroleum, embracing innovation, localizing advanced technology and expanding opportunities for Saudi citizens.


4

3

2021 Incoming Student Statistics

7,184

applications

407

enrollments

18

55.5%

44.5%

international students

Saudi students

applications per place

KAUST in the news

44

59% 41%

countries

KSA only

56.4% MS

MS/PhD

PhD

150

93

164

43.6%

Faculty Statistics 2.15

research scientists per faculty member (398 total)

2.57

postdocs per faculty member (476 total)

7.74

185

faculty

students per faculty member (1,432 total)

12.46

researchers per faculty member (2,306 total)


4

3

2021 Incoming Student Statistics

7,184

applications

407

enrollments

18

55.5%

44.5%

international students

Saudi students

applications per place

KAUST in the news

44

59% 41%

countries

KSA only

56.4% MS

MS/PhD

PhD

150

93

164

43.6%

Faculty Statistics 2.15

research scientists per faculty member (398 total)

2.57

postdocs per faculty member (476 total)

7.74

185

faculty

students per faculty member (1,432 total)

12.46

researchers per faculty member (2,306 total)


5 CORAL

CORAL 6

DEVELOPING THE WORLD’S LARGEST CORAL GARDEN KAUST partners with NEOM to help coral reefs cope with future changes in climate the most heat-resilient coral in the world, and the project at NEOM will pioneer efforts to help coral reefs cope with future changes in climate. The project will include the development of a 100-hectare coral reef around Shousha Island, and involve both restoration innovations and methods for conserving reefs in a changing climate, with KAUST technologies playing a major role. The project will also include the world’s largest coral nursery, which will prepare coral for planting around Shousha Island. KAUST recently partnered with NEOM on the world’s largest coral restoration effort at the Kingdom’s leading giga-project. The project will see the establishment of an enormous coral reef at Shousha Island off the coast of NEOM in the Red Sea in northwest Saudi Arabia. The initiative marks KAUST’s largest-ever technology transfer to a commercial partner and will provide a significant boost to the university’s world-class coral research. NEOM has committed to protect 95% of the nature within its borders, and the new Shousha Island project is a tangible demonstration of this. In November 2021, Saudi Arabia announced plans to develop a new industrial city at NEOM called Oxagon, which will include an oceanographic institute for pioneering marine research that will work to protect the Red Sea and other marine environments. Coral reefs are among the most important ecosystems in the world: they cover just 1% of the ocean floor but are home to approximately 25% of marine species. However, due to the effects of climate change and other environmental stressors, coral reefs are under increasing threat. Scientists agree that allowing global temperatures to increase by a level of 2°C above pre-industrial levels would cause widespread devastation of the globe’s coral reef ecosystems. Experts say Saudi Arabia has a unique opportunity to safeguard marine life, and coral restoration can play a key role in helping reefs recover from damage. The Red Sea is home to some of

Set to be completed in 2025, the project will be a centerpiece of NEOM’s vision for human development in harmony with nature, and will enable Saudi Arabia to strengthen the resilience of the Red Sea for future generations. The restored coral reef will present a unique research and development opportunity for coral preservation, and attract international scientists, researchers and eco-conscious travelers. The new coral nurseries will also be the world’s first and largest repository for Red Sea species. The Red Sea is home to more than 300 native coral species and 1,000 species of fish, many of which are not found anywhere else. NEOM will utilize KAUST Maritechture™ technologies developed by scientists at the university’s Red Sea Research Center and Coastal and Marine Resources Core Lab. This new technique involves growing and planting coral like a garden. Living coral are first 3D scanned and then coral skeletons are 3D printed, upon which living coral polyps attach and grow. This enables new coral to be grown in a matter of months rather than decades. The technique involves sensors that continuously monitor the health of the coral and then relay the data to scientists. This technology will be used in on-shore coral nurseries before being employed to populate coral gardens surrounding the island. This innovative technology addresses the most challenging aspects of marine restoration and is set

to benefit the region for generations to come. KAUST researchers involved in the project include Professor of Marine Science Carlos Duarte, a globally recognized ocean conservation researcher and leader in multiple branches of biological oceanography and marine ecology, along with Associate Professor of Marine Science Manuel Aranda, an evolutionary biologist with expertise in functional genetics and coral reef genomics, with a focus on how corals adapt to changing environmental conditions. KAUST has been contributing to efforts to restore coral reefs and mangrove forests, and rehabilitating degraded and marginal lands at scale. In October 2021, KAUST President Tony Chan participated in a panel discussion at the Saudi Green Initiative forum in Riyadh to discuss ideas to manage coastal areas and marine ecosystems, and restore biodiversity. He called for more partnerships and collaboration between the public and private sectors to achieve environmental objectives. Since the creation of the KAUST campus in 2009, the surrounding mangrove forests have increased their area by 20%. KAUST has designated around 150 hectares as conservation areas to enhance these efforts and has assisted the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in the creation of the G20 Coral R&D Accelerator Platform to secure a future for coral reefs around the world. KAUST is now the global headquarters for this effort.

NEOM “One of our missions at NEOM is to reinvent conservation for the good of the natural world and for future generations to enjoy. Our coral reef collaboration with KAUST is a vivid example of how we are doing that.” Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM

CARLOS DUARTE Distinguished Professor of Marine Science

THIS PROJECT WITH NEOM IS KAUST’S LARGEST TECHNOLOGY TRANSLATION EFFORT TO DATE AND HAS THE POTENTIAL TO RESHAPE CORAL REEF RESTORATION GLOBALLY.


5 CORAL

CORAL 6

DEVELOPING THE WORLD’S LARGEST CORAL GARDEN KAUST partners with NEOM to help coral reefs cope with future changes in climate the most heat-resilient coral in the world, and the project at NEOM will pioneer efforts to help coral reefs cope with future changes in climate. The project will include the development of a 100-hectare coral reef around Shousha Island, and involve both restoration innovations and methods for conserving reefs in a changing climate, with KAUST technologies playing a major role. The project will also include the world’s largest coral nursery, which will prepare coral for planting around Shousha Island. KAUST recently partnered with NEOM on the world’s largest coral restoration effort at the Kingdom’s leading giga-project. The project will see the establishment of an enormous coral reef at Shousha Island off the coast of NEOM in the Red Sea in northwest Saudi Arabia. The initiative marks KAUST’s largest-ever technology transfer to a commercial partner and will provide a significant boost to the university’s world-class coral research. NEOM has committed to protect 95% of the nature within its borders, and the new Shousha Island project is a tangible demonstration of this. In November 2021, Saudi Arabia announced plans to develop a new industrial city at NEOM called Oxagon, which will include an oceanographic institute for pioneering marine research that will work to protect the Red Sea and other marine environments. Coral reefs are among the most important ecosystems in the world: they cover just 1% of the ocean floor but are home to approximately 25% of marine species. However, due to the effects of climate change and other environmental stressors, coral reefs are under increasing threat. Scientists agree that allowing global temperatures to increase by a level of 2°C above pre-industrial levels would cause widespread devastation of the globe’s coral reef ecosystems. Experts say Saudi Arabia has a unique opportunity to safeguard marine life, and coral restoration can play a key role in helping reefs recover from damage. The Red Sea is home to some of

Set to be completed in 2025, the project will be a centerpiece of NEOM’s vision for human development in harmony with nature, and will enable Saudi Arabia to strengthen the resilience of the Red Sea for future generations. The restored coral reef will present a unique research and development opportunity for coral preservation, and attract international scientists, researchers and eco-conscious travelers. The new coral nurseries will also be the world’s first and largest repository for Red Sea species. The Red Sea is home to more than 300 native coral species and 1,000 species of fish, many of which are not found anywhere else. NEOM will utilize KAUST Maritechture™ technologies developed by scientists at the university’s Red Sea Research Center and Coastal and Marine Resources Core Lab. This new technique involves growing and planting coral like a garden. Living coral are first 3D scanned and then coral skeletons are 3D printed, upon which living coral polyps attach and grow. This enables new coral to be grown in a matter of months rather than decades. The technique involves sensors that continuously monitor the health of the coral and then relay the data to scientists. This technology will be used in on-shore coral nurseries before being employed to populate coral gardens surrounding the island. This innovative technology addresses the most challenging aspects of marine restoration and is set

to benefit the region for generations to come. KAUST researchers involved in the project include Professor of Marine Science Carlos Duarte, a globally recognized ocean conservation researcher and leader in multiple branches of biological oceanography and marine ecology, along with Associate Professor of Marine Science Manuel Aranda, an evolutionary biologist with expertise in functional genetics and coral reef genomics, with a focus on how corals adapt to changing environmental conditions. KAUST has been contributing to efforts to restore coral reefs and mangrove forests, and rehabilitating degraded and marginal lands at scale. In October 2021, KAUST President Tony Chan participated in a panel discussion at the Saudi Green Initiative forum in Riyadh to discuss ideas to manage coastal areas and marine ecosystems, and restore biodiversity. He called for more partnerships and collaboration between the public and private sectors to achieve environmental objectives. Since the creation of the KAUST campus in 2009, the surrounding mangrove forests have increased their area by 20%. KAUST has designated around 150 hectares as conservation areas to enhance these efforts and has assisted the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in the creation of the G20 Coral R&D Accelerator Platform to secure a future for coral reefs around the world. KAUST is now the global headquarters for this effort.

NEOM “One of our missions at NEOM is to reinvent conservation for the good of the natural world and for future generations to enjoy. Our coral reef collaboration with KAUST is a vivid example of how we are doing that.” Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM

CARLOS DUARTE Distinguished Professor of Marine Science

THIS PROJECT WITH NEOM IS KAUST’S LARGEST TECHNOLOGY TRANSLATION EFFORT TO DATE AND HAS THE POTENTIAL TO RESHAPE CORAL REEF RESTORATION GLOBALLY.


7 CORAL

CORAL 8

PROTECTING AND RESTORING RESILIENCE IN CORAL REEFS KAUST researchers discover a new way to boost the health of coral, which could save the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems KAUST researchers have shown that feeding beneficial bacteria to coral can help save them from some of the impacts of climate change. Having published their research based on studies in controlled settings, they are now applying their treatment to pocillopora, a dominant species of coral in the Red Sea — the first time that coral have been inoculated in their natural habitat. The team is led by Professor Raquel Peixoto, Associate Professor Erika Santoro and Research Scientist Helena Villela. This research is crucial because coral reefs are biodiversity hotspots. Biodiversity is considered critical for human existence because a rich catalogue of organisms provides food for consumption and raw materials for production, and keeps ecologies healthy in balance with natural cycles, and resilient with respect to perturbations in those cycles.

In addition to observing the increased resilience of coral that received probiotics, the researchers tracked changes at the cellular level, where lipids and membranes responded positively. The study’s collection of data at the cellular and also physiological level of organisms makes it foundational work, said KAUST Professor Christian Voolstra, a collaborator with Peixoto since 2016 and the developer of the analytical frameworks that the study used to interpret its data.

Healthy coral contain algae in their tissue, which provide nutrients and up to 80% of the carbon compounds that the coral convert to energy. In an example of the symbiosis that makes biodiversity valuable, the algae convert coral waste for photosynthesis. However, because of increases in water temperatures due to climate change, the coral can react by expelling the algae. This is called coral bleaching because the coral loses its color in the process. If the algae do not return, then the condition is often fatal, leading to a slow death by starvation.

The scientists began their work in Brazil at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and relocated to KAUST to continue through the university’s Red Sea Research Center. KAUST believes the sea’s coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, brine pools and other ecosystems hold untapped potential for scientific inquiry into areas such as evolutionary biology and adaptation in extreme environments.

Coral reefs support about a quarter of all fish species, and millions of people rely on them for food, jobs and flood protection, as they buffer coastal communities from storm surges. Coral reefs are potentially the first major ecosystems that could collapse due to the acceleration of climate change, according to the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. Therefore, tools for restoration and adaptation are required within the next decades. KAUST’s discovery adds to that tool kit. The researchers found that atrisk corals that were fed probiotics — a mixture of bacteria beneficial to their health — experienced a 40% increase in survival rate because the extra bacteria triggered a process within the coral that altered their genetics and metabolism to mitigate bleaching and prevent mortality.

TONY CHAN President of KAUST

WE MUST CONTINUE TO TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT AND RESTORE CORAL REEFS. AT KAUST WE HAVE BEEN WORKING

GREAT BARRIER REEF FOUNDATION

TO UNLOCK THE BASIS FOR RESILIENCE

“Pioneering science such as KAUST’s provides hope for

WITH THE HOPE THAT THE KNOWLEDGE

the future of coral reefs globally, which are coming

ACQUIRED WILL HELP US CONSERVE

under increasing pressure from climate change.”

CORAL REEFS, WHICH ARE AT RISK ACROSS THE WORLD’S OCEANS.

Anna Marsden, Managing Director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation

While the discovery may prove crucial to saving coral reefs worldwide, those in the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia’s western coast are likely to be the first beneficiaries. Peixoto and her team are diving into the sea to treat coral in their natural environment. The probiotics are distributed in small beads placed on the coral that dissolve into the water around them, allowing them to be absorbed. The work will shore up the health of a beloved region in the Kingdom and support tourism goals outlined under Vision 2030. In the form of the Red Sea Project, Saudi Arabia is developing one of the world’s most ambitious tourism projects, which aims to not only preserve but also enhance coral and biodiversity along the country’s Red Sea coast.


7 CORAL

CORAL 8

PROTECTING AND RESTORING RESILIENCE IN CORAL REEFS KAUST researchers discover a new way to boost the health of coral, which could save the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems KAUST researchers have shown that feeding beneficial bacteria to coral can help save them from some of the impacts of climate change. Having published their research based on studies in controlled settings, they are now applying their treatment to pocillopora, a dominant species of coral in the Red Sea — the first time that coral have been inoculated in their natural habitat. The team is led by Professor Raquel Peixoto, Associate Professor Erika Santoro and Research Scientist Helena Villela. This research is crucial because coral reefs are biodiversity hotspots. Biodiversity is considered critical for human existence because a rich catalogue of organisms provides food for consumption and raw materials for production, and keeps ecologies healthy in balance with natural cycles, and resilient with respect to perturbations in those cycles.

In addition to observing the increased resilience of coral that received probiotics, the researchers tracked changes at the cellular level, where lipids and membranes responded positively. The study’s collection of data at the cellular and also physiological level of organisms makes it foundational work, said KAUST Professor Christian Voolstra, a collaborator with Peixoto since 2016 and the developer of the analytical frameworks that the study used to interpret its data.

Healthy coral contain algae in their tissue, which provide nutrients and up to 80% of the carbon compounds that the coral convert to energy. In an example of the symbiosis that makes biodiversity valuable, the algae convert coral waste for photosynthesis. However, because of increases in water temperatures due to climate change, the coral can react by expelling the algae. This is called coral bleaching because the coral loses its color in the process. If the algae do not return, then the condition is often fatal, leading to a slow death by starvation.

The scientists began their work in Brazil at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and relocated to KAUST to continue through the university’s Red Sea Research Center. KAUST believes the sea’s coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, brine pools and other ecosystems hold untapped potential for scientific inquiry into areas such as evolutionary biology and adaptation in extreme environments.

Coral reefs support about a quarter of all fish species, and millions of people rely on them for food, jobs and flood protection, as they buffer coastal communities from storm surges. Coral reefs are potentially the first major ecosystems that could collapse due to the acceleration of climate change, according to the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. Therefore, tools for restoration and adaptation are required within the next decades. KAUST’s discovery adds to that tool kit. The researchers found that atrisk corals that were fed probiotics — a mixture of bacteria beneficial to their health — experienced a 40% increase in survival rate because the extra bacteria triggered a process within the coral that altered their genetics and metabolism to mitigate bleaching and prevent mortality.

TONY CHAN President of KAUST

WE MUST CONTINUE TO TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT AND RESTORE CORAL REEFS. AT KAUST WE HAVE BEEN WORKING

GREAT BARRIER REEF FOUNDATION

TO UNLOCK THE BASIS FOR RESILIENCE

“Pioneering science such as KAUST’s provides hope for

WITH THE HOPE THAT THE KNOWLEDGE

the future of coral reefs globally, which are coming

ACQUIRED WILL HELP US CONSERVE

under increasing pressure from climate change.”

CORAL REEFS, WHICH ARE AT RISK ACROSS THE WORLD’S OCEANS.

Anna Marsden, Managing Director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation

While the discovery may prove crucial to saving coral reefs worldwide, those in the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia’s western coast are likely to be the first beneficiaries. Peixoto and her team are diving into the sea to treat coral in their natural environment. The probiotics are distributed in small beads placed on the coral that dissolve into the water around them, allowing them to be absorbed. The work will shore up the health of a beloved region in the Kingdom and support tourism goals outlined under Vision 2030. In the form of the Red Sea Project, Saudi Arabia is developing one of the world’s most ambitious tourism projects, which aims to not only preserve but also enhance coral and biodiversity along the country’s Red Sea coast.


9 INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS 10

BRINGING EXPERTISE TO THE RED SEA DEVELOPMENT COMPANY

LOCAL SOLUTIONS TO COVID-19 TESTING

KAUST expands research collaboration with the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism project The Kingdom’s flagship tourism destination and one of the giga-projects envisioned by Vision 2030 is benefiting from a research partnership between KAUST and The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC). In June 2021, KAUST and TRSDC signed a master research agreement focused on mutually beneficial projects that support ecosystem restoration and sustainable development in and around the Red Sea. The agreement follows extensive collaboration between the two organizations on flora and fauna assessments, marine spatial planning and an international competition called the Brains for Brine Challenge. It cements the legal framework for

THE RED SEA DEVELOPMENT COMPANY “The Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia is one of the most pristine environments in the world, and by working with KAUST, we can not only preserve, but actually enhance, this unique treasure for future generations.” John Pagano, CEO of The Red Sea Development Company

mutually beneficial research projects on topics including sustainability of marine environments, waste management systems, sustainable food production, energy conservation and carbon sequestration. The Red Sea coast is home to coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses and other organisms that add to the area’s rich biodiversity. The research and development undertakings of both KAUST and TRSDC will inform and guide efforts to go beyond environmental protection and ensure that these critical habitats are enhanced to support the future growth of flora and fauna populations, including critically endangered species like the Hawksbill turtle. Efforts to track environmental changes over time are already under way. A KAUST-TRSDC working group is also planning a joint Marine Research and Coral Conservation Center at the project site. The Red Sea Project, which will begin welcoming guests by the end of 2022, is pioneering new sustainability standards in regenerative development. It will be the largest tourism development powered entirely by renewable energy, specifically wind and solar power. Part of the mission is to develop the world’s largest battery storage facility. Other ambitious goals include carbon neutrality and enhanced biodiversity at the site, with a commitment to deliver a 30% net conservation benefit by 2040.

DONAL BRADLEY Vice President for Research

KAUST, THROUGH ITS SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL EXPERTISE, IS DELIGHTED TO SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS PROJECT TO BECOME A PREMIER GLOBAL DESTINATION FOR LUXURY, REGENERATIVE TOURISM.

In 2021, TRSDC also partnered with KAUST spinout and agritech business Red Sea Farms, which will help TRSDC develop a sustainable food supply for the Red Sea Project. “At TRSDC, we believe in embracing innovations to solve the challenges we face as we attempt to improve our relationship with the environment,” Pagano said. “Red Sea Farms’ technology is novel, exciting and can help tackle food scarcity globally.”

KAUST startup and research teams collaborate on the Kingdom’s first domestically produced COVID-19 test NoorDx, a KAUST startup focused on genomics, was granted approval by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority for a KAUST-developed COVID-19 RT-PCR test, which is set to become the first domestically produced option available in Saudi Arabia. The innovation will make the detection of COVID-19 faster and less expensive, and political leaders and health authorities may no longer need to source imported versions from a competitive global market in order to keep people safe and healthy. The daily administration of COVID-19 tests in the Kingdom surged during the pandemic, from several thousand a day to around 30,000 tests per day as of November 2021. The authorities have thus far been able to meet demand using imported supplies, but domestic manufacturing capacity is a welcome development. KAUST’s Rapid Research Response team, led by Professor of Bioscience and Interim Dean of the Division of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering Dr. Samir Hamdan, worked to create the test, and NoorDX is now taking steps to scale up production at a commercial scale. The test has initially been made available to the KAUST community, and availability is planned to spread to the Kingdom at a lower cost than imported tests. On campus, the test costs SAR140 for university community members and guests, below the SAR200 charged for the imported version. The cost of urgent tests has fallen from SAR1000 to SAR400, although business travelers receive them free of charge. Individuals receive the results on their mobile phones via a QR code sent within 24 hours, and typically within 12 hours. The team plans to export the tests, which would boost Saudi Arabia’s global leadership in the health sector and spur the Kingdom’s progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular the goal of health and well-being for all. The development of the tests should also help Saudi Arabia meet the goals laid out in Vision 2030, including increasing life expectancy, as well as facilitating the development of a thriving and internationally competitive economy. In addition to working with KAUST on the Kingdom’s first COVID-19 test kit, NoorDx is collaborating with KAUST experts on other projects. The startup is set to become the first domestic entity in the Kingdom to offer

SAMIR HAMDAN Acting Dean, Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering

THIS NEW RT-PCR HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE A GAME-CHANGER IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19 – NOT JUST FOR SAUDI ARABIA, BUT ALSO FOR OTHER COUNTRIES LOOKING FOR AFFORDABLE, EASY-TO-ADMINISTER TESTS. a full suite of genomic services, with the launch date scheduled for early 2022. Typically, clinical genetic tests in the country must be sent abroad for sequencing and analysis; however, NoorDx is working to develop testing capabilities at home. Seed investment came from KAUST Innovation Ventures, the university’s venture capital fund. NoorDx received support to build its laboratories from KAUST Core Labs and Research Infrastructure, and from the university’s Health, Safety and Environment division.

NoorDx “This is a great moment in time, both for KAUST and the development of RT-PCR tests, and soon, gene sequencing. NoorDx will cater to Saudi communities with a full range of services and downstream applications, from dry to wet lab technologies, to analytics and building the Saudi biobank and national genome.” Abdulaleh Alhawsawi, CEO of NoorDx


9 INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS 10

BRINGING EXPERTISE TO THE RED SEA DEVELOPMENT COMPANY

LOCAL SOLUTIONS TO COVID-19 TESTING

KAUST expands research collaboration with the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism project The Kingdom’s flagship tourism destination and one of the giga-projects envisioned by Vision 2030 is benefiting from a research partnership between KAUST and The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC). In June 2021, KAUST and TRSDC signed a master research agreement focused on mutually beneficial projects that support ecosystem restoration and sustainable development in and around the Red Sea. The agreement follows extensive collaboration between the two organizations on flora and fauna assessments, marine spatial planning and an international competition called the Brains for Brine Challenge. It cements the legal framework for

THE RED SEA DEVELOPMENT COMPANY “The Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia is one of the most pristine environments in the world, and by working with KAUST, we can not only preserve, but actually enhance, this unique treasure for future generations.” John Pagano, CEO of The Red Sea Development Company

mutually beneficial research projects on topics including sustainability of marine environments, waste management systems, sustainable food production, energy conservation and carbon sequestration. The Red Sea coast is home to coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses and other organisms that add to the area’s rich biodiversity. The research and development undertakings of both KAUST and TRSDC will inform and guide efforts to go beyond environmental protection and ensure that these critical habitats are enhanced to support the future growth of flora and fauna populations, including critically endangered species like the Hawksbill turtle. Efforts to track environmental changes over time are already under way. A KAUST-TRSDC working group is also planning a joint Marine Research and Coral Conservation Center at the project site. The Red Sea Project, which will begin welcoming guests by the end of 2022, is pioneering new sustainability standards in regenerative development. It will be the largest tourism development powered entirely by renewable energy, specifically wind and solar power. Part of the mission is to develop the world’s largest battery storage facility. Other ambitious goals include carbon neutrality and enhanced biodiversity at the site, with a commitment to deliver a 30% net conservation benefit by 2040.

DONAL BRADLEY Vice President for Research

KAUST, THROUGH ITS SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL EXPERTISE, IS DELIGHTED TO SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS PROJECT TO BECOME A PREMIER GLOBAL DESTINATION FOR LUXURY, REGENERATIVE TOURISM.

In 2021, TRSDC also partnered with KAUST spinout and agritech business Red Sea Farms, which will help TRSDC develop a sustainable food supply for the Red Sea Project. “At TRSDC, we believe in embracing innovations to solve the challenges we face as we attempt to improve our relationship with the environment,” Pagano said. “Red Sea Farms’ technology is novel, exciting and can help tackle food scarcity globally.”

KAUST startup and research teams collaborate on the Kingdom’s first domestically produced COVID-19 test NoorDx, a KAUST startup focused on genomics, was granted approval by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority for a KAUST-developed COVID-19 RT-PCR test, which is set to become the first domestically produced option available in Saudi Arabia. The innovation will make the detection of COVID-19 faster and less expensive, and political leaders and health authorities may no longer need to source imported versions from a competitive global market in order to keep people safe and healthy. The daily administration of COVID-19 tests in the Kingdom surged during the pandemic, from several thousand a day to around 30,000 tests per day as of November 2021. The authorities have thus far been able to meet demand using imported supplies, but domestic manufacturing capacity is a welcome development. KAUST’s Rapid Research Response team, led by Professor of Bioscience and Interim Dean of the Division of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering Dr. Samir Hamdan, worked to create the test, and NoorDX is now taking steps to scale up production at a commercial scale. The test has initially been made available to the KAUST community, and availability is planned to spread to the Kingdom at a lower cost than imported tests. On campus, the test costs SAR140 for university community members and guests, below the SAR200 charged for the imported version. The cost of urgent tests has fallen from SAR1000 to SAR400, although business travelers receive them free of charge. Individuals receive the results on their mobile phones via a QR code sent within 24 hours, and typically within 12 hours. The team plans to export the tests, which would boost Saudi Arabia’s global leadership in the health sector and spur the Kingdom’s progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular the goal of health and well-being for all. The development of the tests should also help Saudi Arabia meet the goals laid out in Vision 2030, including increasing life expectancy, as well as facilitating the development of a thriving and internationally competitive economy. In addition to working with KAUST on the Kingdom’s first COVID-19 test kit, NoorDx is collaborating with KAUST experts on other projects. The startup is set to become the first domestic entity in the Kingdom to offer

SAMIR HAMDAN Acting Dean, Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering

THIS NEW RT-PCR HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE A GAME-CHANGER IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19 – NOT JUST FOR SAUDI ARABIA, BUT ALSO FOR OTHER COUNTRIES LOOKING FOR AFFORDABLE, EASY-TO-ADMINISTER TESTS. a full suite of genomic services, with the launch date scheduled for early 2022. Typically, clinical genetic tests in the country must be sent abroad for sequencing and analysis; however, NoorDx is working to develop testing capabilities at home. Seed investment came from KAUST Innovation Ventures, the university’s venture capital fund. NoorDx received support to build its laboratories from KAUST Core Labs and Research Infrastructure, and from the university’s Health, Safety and Environment division.

NoorDx “This is a great moment in time, both for KAUST and the development of RT-PCR tests, and soon, gene sequencing. NoorDx will cater to Saudi communities with a full range of services and downstream applications, from dry to wet lab technologies, to analytics and building the Saudi biobank and national genome.” Abdulaleh Alhawsawi, CEO of NoorDx


11 INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS 12

HARVESTING LITHIUM FROM SEAWATER KAUST researchers have developed a new method to source an essential material for electric vehicle batteries KAUST researchers have developed an innovative and economically viable method to mine high-purity lithium from seawater. The highly sought-after resource is a vital component of the batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs). Demand for lithium is set to grow significantly in the coming years, driven by efforts to scale up EV production globally in response to climate change. The new method has the potential to transform the lithium mining industry, offering a breakthrough solution for a resource that has witnessed soaring demand. In September 2021, lithium prices reached a three-year high on the London Metal Exchange amid concerns that global stocks of this element will not be sufficient enough to meet the accelerating needs of EV makers. Indeed, projections indicate that land-based reserves of lithium could be exhausted by 2080. With growing consumer interest and policymakers worldwide incentivizing the use of EVs over the currently more common internal combustion engine vehicles, many are now looking to unlock new supplies of lithium. Lithium is typically extracted from underground deposits using traditional mining methods, but a team of scientists led by Professor of Chemical Engineering Zhiping Lai has proved it possible to source the metal from seawater. Oceans contain about 5,000 times more lithium than currently known land deposits, but at extremely low concentrations of about 0.2 parts per million. Previous extraction efforts have not been successful, but KAUST researchers found a way to use an electrochemical cell with holes in its walls that are large enough to allow lithium ions to pass through, but small enough to block the other larger, undesired metal ions present in water. The cells are a compound of the oxides of three elements: lithium lanthanum, and titanium. They contain three compartments – one in which seawater enters, one for negatively charged ions to pass

MA’ADEN

establishing a thriving and internationally competitive economy. Its National Transformation Program aims to attract investment, develop promising local companies into regional and global leaders, and strengthen economic ties with global partners – all of which are likely outcomes should Lai and his colleagues find success in converting their innovation into a commercial-scale alternative. With lithium remaining central to the ongoing energy transition, their project also meets sustainability goals embedded in Vision 2030, as the energy requirements of giga-projects and the wider global economy will continue to grow in the coming years.

“Our team has identified the technology developed by KAUST to extract lithium from seawater as extremely promising with highly valuable potential.” Saud M. Al-Mandil, Vice President of Digitalization and Operational Excellence at Ma’aden

through, and one that collects positively charged lithium ions. This new process of mining lithium has the potential to be more cost-effective than current methods, capturing the interest of investors and mining experts worldwide. The main cost involved is electricity, and even this is relatively low: KAUST researchers estimate that $5 in energy costs would yield one kilogram of lithium. This method avoids expensive steps in the supply chain such as ore crushing, and transport from remote mines to processing facilities and on to customers. The global lithium market is highly concentrated: most lithium reserves are found in South America, and access is controlled by four major companies. Since Lai and his team published their results in a paper titled “Continuous Electrical Pumping Membrane Process for Seawater Lithium Mining” in the May 2021 edition of the academic journal Energy & Environmental Science, the innovation has drawn coverage from publications including Chemical & Engineering News, Canadian Mining Journal and Metal Tech News. The scientists have fielded inquiries from more than 30 companies and venture firms, with whom they have signed non-disclosure

ZHIPING LAI Professor of Chemical Engineering

EXTRACTING LITHIUM FROM SEAWATER IS EXTREMELY CHALLENGING BECAUSE OF ITS LOW CONCENTRATION. WE HAVE ACHIEVED IT AT KAUST THANKS TO OUR FLEXIBLE AND MULTIDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT. SINCE DOING SO, WE HAVE RECEIVED TREMENDOUS INTEREST FROM COMPANIES AROUND THE WORLD. agreements to negotiate investment packages for a startup company to produce and sell this new technology. This is yet another discovery that positions KAUST as a noteworthy source of scientific scholarship, and supports the Kingdom in its efforts to meet Vision 2030 goals, including


11 INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS 12

HARVESTING LITHIUM FROM SEAWATER KAUST researchers have developed a new method to source an essential material for electric vehicle batteries KAUST researchers have developed an innovative and economically viable method to mine high-purity lithium from seawater. The highly sought-after resource is a vital component of the batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs). Demand for lithium is set to grow significantly in the coming years, driven by efforts to scale up EV production globally in response to climate change. The new method has the potential to transform the lithium mining industry, offering a breakthrough solution for a resource that has witnessed soaring demand. In September 2021, lithium prices reached a three-year high on the London Metal Exchange amid concerns that global stocks of this element will not be sufficient enough to meet the accelerating needs of EV makers. Indeed, projections indicate that land-based reserves of lithium could be exhausted by 2080. With growing consumer interest and policymakers worldwide incentivizing the use of EVs over the currently more common internal combustion engine vehicles, many are now looking to unlock new supplies of lithium. Lithium is typically extracted from underground deposits using traditional mining methods, but a team of scientists led by Professor of Chemical Engineering Zhiping Lai has proved it possible to source the metal from seawater. Oceans contain about 5,000 times more lithium than currently known land deposits, but at extremely low concentrations of about 0.2 parts per million. Previous extraction efforts have not been successful, but KAUST researchers found a way to use an electrochemical cell with holes in its walls that are large enough to allow lithium ions to pass through, but small enough to block the other larger, undesired metal ions present in water. The cells are a compound of the oxides of three elements: lithium lanthanum, and titanium. They contain three compartments – one in which seawater enters, one for negatively charged ions to pass

MA’ADEN

establishing a thriving and internationally competitive economy. Its National Transformation Program aims to attract investment, develop promising local companies into regional and global leaders, and strengthen economic ties with global partners – all of which are likely outcomes should Lai and his colleagues find success in converting their innovation into a commercial-scale alternative. With lithium remaining central to the ongoing energy transition, their project also meets sustainability goals embedded in Vision 2030, as the energy requirements of giga-projects and the wider global economy will continue to grow in the coming years.

“Our team has identified the technology developed by KAUST to extract lithium from seawater as extremely promising with highly valuable potential.” Saud M. Al-Mandil, Vice President of Digitalization and Operational Excellence at Ma’aden

through, and one that collects positively charged lithium ions. This new process of mining lithium has the potential to be more cost-effective than current methods, capturing the interest of investors and mining experts worldwide. The main cost involved is electricity, and even this is relatively low: KAUST researchers estimate that $5 in energy costs would yield one kilogram of lithium. This method avoids expensive steps in the supply chain such as ore crushing, and transport from remote mines to processing facilities and on to customers. The global lithium market is highly concentrated: most lithium reserves are found in South America, and access is controlled by four major companies. Since Lai and his team published their results in a paper titled “Continuous Electrical Pumping Membrane Process for Seawater Lithium Mining” in the May 2021 edition of the academic journal Energy & Environmental Science, the innovation has drawn coverage from publications including Chemical & Engineering News, Canadian Mining Journal and Metal Tech News. The scientists have fielded inquiries from more than 30 companies and venture firms, with whom they have signed non-disclosure

ZHIPING LAI Professor of Chemical Engineering

EXTRACTING LITHIUM FROM SEAWATER IS EXTREMELY CHALLENGING BECAUSE OF ITS LOW CONCENTRATION. WE HAVE ACHIEVED IT AT KAUST THANKS TO OUR FLEXIBLE AND MULTIDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT. SINCE DOING SO, WE HAVE RECEIVED TREMENDOUS INTEREST FROM COMPANIES AROUND THE WORLD. agreements to negotiate investment packages for a startup company to produce and sell this new technology. This is yet another discovery that positions KAUST as a noteworthy source of scientific scholarship, and supports the Kingdom in its efforts to meet Vision 2030 goals, including


13 INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS 14

SOLAR CLEANING SOLUTIONS FOR SAUDI GIGA-PROJECTS

KAUST spinout NOMADD installs cleaning robots at NEOM’s first solar array NEOM is using robotic technology developed by NO-water Mechanical Automated Dusting Device (NOMADD), a KAUST startup, to clean its first major solar array. NOMADD was founded at the university in 2012 and has since transformed into a leading KAUST spinout. After many years of research and design, and thousands of hours of field testing, NOMADD’s ambitions are becoming a reality. NOMADD’s technology is a waterless, fully automated, robotic solar panel-cleaning system that is essential for solar arrays used in the Arabian Peninsula’s dusty desert. After a dust storm, the effectiveness of solar panels can be reduced by up to 60%. NOMADD’s robotic technology is designed to help solve this problem. Having been designed, developed and tested in Saudi Arabia for the harshest desert conditions, NOMADD offers a local solution to a local problem. The technology was developed by Georg Eitelhuber, founder and inventor of NOMADD Desert Solar Solutions. Georg initially came to KAUST as a high school physics teacher, but he saw that a solution was needed for the development of solar arrays in the desert. With KAUST’s help, he founded NOMADD and has since seen it grow. The startup is poised to have a breakthrough impact on the broader Middle Eastern solar market as the sector begins to take off in earnest. NOMADD offers a timely, innovative solution at a moment when Saudi Arabia is beginning to roll out solar power at scale across the Kingdom. Some of the largest solar energy projects in the world are due to come on line in Saudi Arabia within the next few years. The country has set the goal of producing 50% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, targeting 58.7 GW of installed solar and wind power capacity. Saudi Arabian Trading & Construction Company (SATCO) has partnered with Lewis Berger, a US construction and infrastructure firm, on the

SATCO “SATCO first saw NOMADD in action at KAUST in 2018, and we were blown away. Fast forward to the present, and we are proud to say that we now have 59 NOMADD robots in operation at NEOM cleaning over 9,750 solar panels.” Tarek Malek Antabi, Deputy CEO of SATCO GEORG EITELHUBER Founder and Inventor of NOMADD

“With new investment, we will be able to make the leap into mass-scale production and become the solar solution provider for the Kingdom and the wider region,” Eitelhuber said.

WE STRIVE TO MAKE OUR ROBOTS AND COMPANY EXAMPLES OF VISION 2030 IN ACTION. AS WE EXPAND

NOMADD’s robotic brushes are operating on a 5.5-MW solar facility at NEOM, the first commercial-scale solar operation on site. The array is powering some of NEOM’s key infrastructure during the construction phase. Some 59 NOMADD robots have been deployed across almost 10,000 solar panels. Each robot can clean more than 1,000 panels, spanning a distance of around one kilometer in about 30 minutes. The robots, which were installed at NEOM in October 2021, are tailored to each array to ensure smooth integration. Thanks to NOMADD’s innovative software, the robots continuously communicate back to a central monitoring system, allowing for maintenance in real time.

FROM MEGAWATT TO GIGAWATT LEVELS, WE WILL HELP TO SOLVE A CRUCIAL CHALLENGE THAT FACES THE REGION’S AMBITIOUS SOLAR PROJECTS. WE ARE GRATEFUL TO BE ENTRUSTED WITH THIS OPPORTUNITY AND MISSION.

tender to build the solar array at NEOM, while NOMADD won the bid to supply robots to SATCO and Lewis Berger. NOMADD’s successful bid was attributed to competitive pricing and superior product performance. NEOM is planned to operate entirely on renewable energy. With the goals of completing phase one in 2025-26 and phase two in 2030-31, the $500-billion initiative aims to become the city of the future. The

development will require enormous amounts of solar energy to fulfill its ambitions. NOMADD estimates that over the next few years roughly 10,000 of its panel-cleaning robots would be needed at NEOM and 50,000 across the country more broadly. The company plans to scale up significantly and is currently seeking new investment to achieve this. Presently, NOMADD is producing around 150 robots per month, but aims to start manufacturing some 1,500 robots per month in the near future.

The KAUST startup has been working with a number of other key players in the Kingdom and the wider region. NOMADD’s robots are currently deployed on nine Aramco sites and are being used on the world’s largest solar rooftop array in Dubai. ACWA Power, a Saudi firm, is also testing NOMADD’s robots in Dubai. Crucially, NOMADD is helping to localize solar-technology manufacturing in Saudi Arabia. Over 60% of the system’s components are currently produced in the Kingdom, and the company is aiming to achieve 100% local content manufacturing. The robots are built in Jeddah with the support of NOMADD’s Series B investor and manufacturing partner, Civil and Electrical Projects Contracting Company.


13 INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS 14

SOLAR CLEANING SOLUTIONS FOR SAUDI GIGA-PROJECTS

KAUST spinout NOMADD installs cleaning robots at NEOM’s first solar array NEOM is using robotic technology developed by NO-water Mechanical Automated Dusting Device (NOMADD), a KAUST startup, to clean its first major solar array. NOMADD was founded at the university in 2012 and has since transformed into a leading KAUST spinout. After many years of research and design, and thousands of hours of field testing, NOMADD’s ambitions are becoming a reality. NOMADD’s technology is a waterless, fully automated, robotic solar panel-cleaning system that is essential for solar arrays used in the Arabian Peninsula’s dusty desert. After a dust storm, the effectiveness of solar panels can be reduced by up to 60%. NOMADD’s robotic technology is designed to help solve this problem. Having been designed, developed and tested in Saudi Arabia for the harshest desert conditions, NOMADD offers a local solution to a local problem. The technology was developed by Georg Eitelhuber, founder and inventor of NOMADD Desert Solar Solutions. Georg initially came to KAUST as a high school physics teacher, but he saw that a solution was needed for the development of solar arrays in the desert. With KAUST’s help, he founded NOMADD and has since seen it grow. The startup is poised to have a breakthrough impact on the broader Middle Eastern solar market as the sector begins to take off in earnest. NOMADD offers a timely, innovative solution at a moment when Saudi Arabia is beginning to roll out solar power at scale across the Kingdom. Some of the largest solar energy projects in the world are due to come on line in Saudi Arabia within the next few years. The country has set the goal of producing 50% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, targeting 58.7 GW of installed solar and wind power capacity. Saudi Arabian Trading & Construction Company (SATCO) has partnered with Lewis Berger, a US construction and infrastructure firm, on the

SATCO “SATCO first saw NOMADD in action at KAUST in 2018, and we were blown away. Fast forward to the present, and we are proud to say that we now have 59 NOMADD robots in operation at NEOM cleaning over 9,750 solar panels.” Tarek Malek Antabi, Deputy CEO of SATCO GEORG EITELHUBER Founder and Inventor of NOMADD

“With new investment, we will be able to make the leap into mass-scale production and become the solar solution provider for the Kingdom and the wider region,” Eitelhuber said.

WE STRIVE TO MAKE OUR ROBOTS AND COMPANY EXAMPLES OF VISION 2030 IN ACTION. AS WE EXPAND

NOMADD’s robotic brushes are operating on a 5.5-MW solar facility at NEOM, the first commercial-scale solar operation on site. The array is powering some of NEOM’s key infrastructure during the construction phase. Some 59 NOMADD robots have been deployed across almost 10,000 solar panels. Each robot can clean more than 1,000 panels, spanning a distance of around one kilometer in about 30 minutes. The robots, which were installed at NEOM in October 2021, are tailored to each array to ensure smooth integration. Thanks to NOMADD’s innovative software, the robots continuously communicate back to a central monitoring system, allowing for maintenance in real time.

FROM MEGAWATT TO GIGAWATT LEVELS, WE WILL HELP TO SOLVE A CRUCIAL CHALLENGE THAT FACES THE REGION’S AMBITIOUS SOLAR PROJECTS. WE ARE GRATEFUL TO BE ENTRUSTED WITH THIS OPPORTUNITY AND MISSION.

tender to build the solar array at NEOM, while NOMADD won the bid to supply robots to SATCO and Lewis Berger. NOMADD’s successful bid was attributed to competitive pricing and superior product performance. NEOM is planned to operate entirely on renewable energy. With the goals of completing phase one in 2025-26 and phase two in 2030-31, the $500-billion initiative aims to become the city of the future. The

development will require enormous amounts of solar energy to fulfill its ambitions. NOMADD estimates that over the next few years roughly 10,000 of its panel-cleaning robots would be needed at NEOM and 50,000 across the country more broadly. The company plans to scale up significantly and is currently seeking new investment to achieve this. Presently, NOMADD is producing around 150 robots per month, but aims to start manufacturing some 1,500 robots per month in the near future.

The KAUST startup has been working with a number of other key players in the Kingdom and the wider region. NOMADD’s robots are currently deployed on nine Aramco sites and are being used on the world’s largest solar rooftop array in Dubai. ACWA Power, a Saudi firm, is also testing NOMADD’s robots in Dubai. Crucially, NOMADD is helping to localize solar-technology manufacturing in Saudi Arabia. Over 60% of the system’s components are currently produced in the Kingdom, and the company is aiming to achieve 100% local content manufacturing. The robots are built in Jeddah with the support of NOMADD’s Series B investor and manufacturing partner, Civil and Electrical Projects Contracting Company.


15 CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT 16

ADVOCATING CLIMATE SOLUTIONS AT COP26

MICHAEL BERUMEN Professor of Marine Science

KAUST’S DEEP EXPERTISE ACROSS OUR CROSS-CUTTING RESEARCH THEMES OF

Several KAUST faculty members attended COP26 in Glasgow to share their expertise on the impacts of climate change and available solutions

MINISTRY OF ENERGY “The contributions of institutions like KAUST are vital to the success of our national efforts to address climate change. Through scientific expertise, thought leadership and commitment to innovation, KAUST accelerates research and dialogue, while

In November 2021, several KAUST faculty members participated in the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the preeminent global meeting to advance action on climate change. Across two weeks, KAUST faculty joined scientists, policymakers, activists and leaders from around the world in a series of panel events, informal discussions and presentations. Their presence helped bring attention to the impacts of climate change on the natural environment and its related economic consequences. The conference also provided an opportunity to showcase the university’s groundbreaking research in climate change mitigation and offer KAUST’s thought leadership in the search for climate solutions. With 2021 marking its 26th iteration, the COP summit serves as a major international effort to catalyze action on climate change and address one of the most existential threats of our time. In total, more than 39,000 participants from around the world attended COP26. The conference included myriad side events in national pavilions. These offered a space for countries and organizations to host events, showcase research and expertise, and engage with other COP attendees. KAUST faculty participated in events run by the Saudi Ministry of Energy, the International Coral Reef Society and Aeon Collective, a leading Saudi-based sustainable development group. These focused on a range of themes including climate adaptation, protecting and restoring coral, transitioning to net-zero emissions, hydrogen energy, solar technology, the circular carbon economy (CCE) and clean combustion. Michael Berumen, director of the KAUST Red Sea Research Center, and Raquel Peixoto, associate professor of marine science, helped underscore the importance of saving the world’s coral by limiting the

producing effective and viable solutions. KAUST will remain a key national partner as we look to the future and begin applying the takeaways of COP26 to our ambitious national climate action agenda.” Khalid Abuleif, Saudi Arabia’s Chief Negotiator for Climate Agreements and Senior Sustainability Advisor to HRH the Minister of Energy

global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. KAUST Distinguished Professor of Marine Science Carlos Duarte drew attention to mangrove and seagrass restoration projects as important carbon sinks that offer nature-based solutions to climate change. Rod A. Wing, director of the KAUST Center for Desert Agriculture, and Ibrahim Hoteit, professor of earth science and engineering, were joined by KAUST PhD candidate Natalia Odnoletkova to present on the impacts of climate change on Saudi Arabia’s natural environment and the adaptation measures required. Stefaan De Wolf, principal investigator of the KAUST Photovoltaics Laboratory, shared insights on highly efficient next-generation solar cell technology, while Cafer Yavuz, professor of chemical science, showed his catalyst development for dry reforming – a reaction that could result in gigaton-scale carbon utilization without changing fuel infrastructure, and jumpstart the CCE. Ana Margarida

Costa, head of Sustainability at KAUST, highlighted the collaborative research between the university, the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany and the University of Aveiro in Portugal on the impacts of climate change and air pollution on human health in the GCC. Mani Sarathy, associate director of the KAUST Clean Combustion Research Center, discussed pathways to produce and transport hydrogen as part of global and regional efforts to scale up the technology. Volker Vahrenkamp, professor of energy resources and petroleum engineering, shed light on blue hydrogen as a concept for the transformation of hydrocarbonbased economies, and Deanna Lacoste, associate professor of mechanical engineering, spoke of the role of clean combustion in mobility and power generation. William McDonough, CEO of McDonough Innovation and KAUST Distinguished Research Professor, hosted an innovation hub in the Glasgow city center focused on the circular economy and the CCE. It provided a space for companies to showcase their sustainability work.

FOOD, ENERGY, WATER AND ENVIRONMENT IS HELPING TO ADDRESS THE PERVASIVE CHALLENGES POSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE. KAUST’S REPRESENTATION AT COP26 REFLECTS THE INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION OF THE UNIVERSITY’S LEADERSHIP.

The Kingdom faces formidable challenges from the environmental impacts of climate change and the economic shifts of the global energy transition. The country has unveiled a series of major new initiatives and strategies in recent years to address these challenges and combat climate change. In March 2021, the Kingdom announced the Saudi Green Initiative and a regional Middle East Green Initiative that promote a range of goals and themes, such as increasing clean energy, offsetting the impact of fossil fuels and protecting the environment. Chief among these is a plan to plant 10 billion trees in Saudi Arabia and a further 40 billion trees in other Middle Eastern countries over the next two decades. These will absorb millions of tonnes of CO2. The following month, Saudi Arabia joined the Net Zero Producers Forum, a new initiative focused on developing net-zero emission strategies among major oil and gas producing countries. In October 2021, the Kingdom announced a target of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2060 – another major milestone. At the center of the Kingdom’s climate strategy is the CCE concept, a multi-faceted approach that emphasizes the role of carbon capture, utilization and storage in reducing emissions. The concept was endorsed by the leaders of the G20 in late 2020. KAUST launched its own Circular Carbon Initiative in December 2020 to support national efforts and bring together the university’s research undertakings to develop CCE technology.

KAUST will be a key partner in delivering on these ambitious national strategies, and is committed to providing advanced scientific solutions and cross-sectoral innovation that can contribute to immediate action. The university’s deep commitment to research excellence and innovation is helping Saudi Arabia accelerate the transformation of the energy sector and advance various sustainability initiatives.


15 CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT 16

ADVOCATING CLIMATE SOLUTIONS AT COP26

MICHAEL BERUMEN Professor of Marine Science

KAUST’S DEEP EXPERTISE ACROSS OUR CROSS-CUTTING RESEARCH THEMES OF

Several KAUST faculty members attended COP26 in Glasgow to share their expertise on the impacts of climate change and available solutions

MINISTRY OF ENERGY “The contributions of institutions like KAUST are vital to the success of our national efforts to address climate change. Through scientific expertise, thought leadership and commitment to innovation, KAUST accelerates research and dialogue, while

In November 2021, several KAUST faculty members participated in the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the preeminent global meeting to advance action on climate change. Across two weeks, KAUST faculty joined scientists, policymakers, activists and leaders from around the world in a series of panel events, informal discussions and presentations. Their presence helped bring attention to the impacts of climate change on the natural environment and its related economic consequences. The conference also provided an opportunity to showcase the university’s groundbreaking research in climate change mitigation and offer KAUST’s thought leadership in the search for climate solutions. With 2021 marking its 26th iteration, the COP summit serves as a major international effort to catalyze action on climate change and address one of the most existential threats of our time. In total, more than 39,000 participants from around the world attended COP26. The conference included myriad side events in national pavilions. These offered a space for countries and organizations to host events, showcase research and expertise, and engage with other COP attendees. KAUST faculty participated in events run by the Saudi Ministry of Energy, the International Coral Reef Society and Aeon Collective, a leading Saudi-based sustainable development group. These focused on a range of themes including climate adaptation, protecting and restoring coral, transitioning to net-zero emissions, hydrogen energy, solar technology, the circular carbon economy (CCE) and clean combustion. Michael Berumen, director of the KAUST Red Sea Research Center, and Raquel Peixoto, associate professor of marine science, helped underscore the importance of saving the world’s coral by limiting the

producing effective and viable solutions. KAUST will remain a key national partner as we look to the future and begin applying the takeaways of COP26 to our ambitious national climate action agenda.” Khalid Abuleif, Saudi Arabia’s Chief Negotiator for Climate Agreements and Senior Sustainability Advisor to HRH the Minister of Energy

global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. KAUST Distinguished Professor of Marine Science Carlos Duarte drew attention to mangrove and seagrass restoration projects as important carbon sinks that offer nature-based solutions to climate change. Rod A. Wing, director of the KAUST Center for Desert Agriculture, and Ibrahim Hoteit, professor of earth science and engineering, were joined by KAUST PhD candidate Natalia Odnoletkova to present on the impacts of climate change on Saudi Arabia’s natural environment and the adaptation measures required. Stefaan De Wolf, principal investigator of the KAUST Photovoltaics Laboratory, shared insights on highly efficient next-generation solar cell technology, while Cafer Yavuz, professor of chemical science, showed his catalyst development for dry reforming – a reaction that could result in gigaton-scale carbon utilization without changing fuel infrastructure, and jumpstart the CCE. Ana Margarida

Costa, head of Sustainability at KAUST, highlighted the collaborative research between the university, the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany and the University of Aveiro in Portugal on the impacts of climate change and air pollution on human health in the GCC. Mani Sarathy, associate director of the KAUST Clean Combustion Research Center, discussed pathways to produce and transport hydrogen as part of global and regional efforts to scale up the technology. Volker Vahrenkamp, professor of energy resources and petroleum engineering, shed light on blue hydrogen as a concept for the transformation of hydrocarbonbased economies, and Deanna Lacoste, associate professor of mechanical engineering, spoke of the role of clean combustion in mobility and power generation. William McDonough, CEO of McDonough Innovation and KAUST Distinguished Research Professor, hosted an innovation hub in the Glasgow city center focused on the circular economy and the CCE. It provided a space for companies to showcase their sustainability work.

FOOD, ENERGY, WATER AND ENVIRONMENT IS HELPING TO ADDRESS THE PERVASIVE CHALLENGES POSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE. KAUST’S REPRESENTATION AT COP26 REFLECTS THE INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION OF THE UNIVERSITY’S LEADERSHIP.

The Kingdom faces formidable challenges from the environmental impacts of climate change and the economic shifts of the global energy transition. The country has unveiled a series of major new initiatives and strategies in recent years to address these challenges and combat climate change. In March 2021, the Kingdom announced the Saudi Green Initiative and a regional Middle East Green Initiative that promote a range of goals and themes, such as increasing clean energy, offsetting the impact of fossil fuels and protecting the environment. Chief among these is a plan to plant 10 billion trees in Saudi Arabia and a further 40 billion trees in other Middle Eastern countries over the next two decades. These will absorb millions of tonnes of CO2. The following month, Saudi Arabia joined the Net Zero Producers Forum, a new initiative focused on developing net-zero emission strategies among major oil and gas producing countries. In October 2021, the Kingdom announced a target of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2060 – another major milestone. At the center of the Kingdom’s climate strategy is the CCE concept, a multi-faceted approach that emphasizes the role of carbon capture, utilization and storage in reducing emissions. The concept was endorsed by the leaders of the G20 in late 2020. KAUST launched its own Circular Carbon Initiative in December 2020 to support national efforts and bring together the university’s research undertakings to develop CCE technology.

KAUST will be a key partner in delivering on these ambitious national strategies, and is committed to providing advanced scientific solutions and cross-sectoral innovation that can contribute to immediate action. The university’s deep commitment to research excellence and innovation is helping Saudi Arabia accelerate the transformation of the energy sector and advance various sustainability initiatives.


17 CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT 18

CHAMPIONING YOUTH CLIMATE ENGAGEMENT KAUST senior leadership and students joined top policymakers at the inaugural Saudi Green Initiative Forum In October 2021, KAUST participated in the inaugural Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) Forum and its adjoining Youth Green Summit. Participants included KAUST students Eman Alhajji, Natalia Odnoletkova and Taiba Alamoudi, along with KAUST President Tony Chan, KAUST’s Head of Sustainability Ana Margarida Costa, and CEO of McDonough Innovation and KAUST Distinguished Research Professor William McDonough. Described as a holistic government climate action initiative, the SGI is Saudi Arabia’s pioneering strategy for creating a greener future and becoming a leader of climate action. The initiative was introduced in March 2021, and October of that year marked its official launch at the SGI Forum – a threeday summit that brought together policymakers, the private sector, civil society, youth and global leaders. The launch of the SGI is illustrative of the Kingdom’s new, more engaged and proactive approach to climate action. It serves as an umbrella for the country’s recent climate pledges, including drastically reducing CO2 emissions, embracing renewable energy, increasing protected nature reserves and planting billions of trees. It also provides a platform for coordinating future projects and targets. The Youth Green Summit was held on the second day of the SGI Forum. It was a gathering of young climate leaders and students from the Kingdom and beyond, with panel discussions and interactive workshops on the future of climate action. Over 75 speakers participated in the event, including high-level government officials, CEOs, investors, innovators, thought leaders and youth leadership role models. The summit sent a clear message that Saudi Arabia is committed to a green future, and its young people will help lead the way. KAUST students at the summit were both in the audience and on stage. KAUST PhD candidate and President of the KAUST Students for Sustainability group Eman Alhajji interviewed HRH the Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman Al Saud in an intergenerational discussion and question-and-answer session. The minister spoke of the capacity of Saudi youth to contribute to the transformation that the Kingdom is going through, and the importance of their role in shaping Saudi Arabia’s future. President Chan joined HRH Princess Noura Bint Turki Al-Saud from Aeon Strategy to host the Climate Action Challenge, focused on simulating actions in line with the Paris Agreement. Costa and Odnoletkova led a workshop on reducing carbon emissions, while Alamoudi led a workshop on preserving marine life. McDonough discussed the role of eco-entrepreneurs in meeting the challenges posed by climate change. KAUST’s participation in events such as the SGI is representative of how the university’s talent can directly help policymakers shape national priorities, as well as deliver practical, real-world results.

PROMOTING GREEN INVESTMENT AND RESEARCH FII INSTITUTE “What we need today are real-world solutions that create a positive impact on humanity. By partnering with KAUST, the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute takes the world’s best ideas out of the labs and makes them accessible to a market looking for answers.” Richard Attias, CEO of the FII Institute EMAN ALHAJJI PhD Candidate and President of Students for Sustainability

AS A YOUTH DELEGATE, I WAS TRULY HONORED TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY OF ENGAGING IN AN INTERGENERATIONAL DIALOGUE WITH HRH PRINCE ABDULAZIZ ON SAUDI ARABIA’S NEW GREEN PRIORITIES AND INITIATIVES.

McDONOUGH INNOVATION “At the Saudi Green Initiative, the minister of energy announced the goal of net-zero emissions by 2060, echoing US President Kennedy’s ask to have a human on the moon in a decade. The NASA team succeeded in nine years. I have no doubt that the youth of Saudi Arabia will deliver this vision with similar speed, alacrity and success – ahead of schedule.” William McDonough, CEO of McDonough Innovation and KAUST Distinguished Research Professor

KAUST participated in the Future Investment Initiative to advocate for sustainability and climate-focused investments

KAUST experts and President Tony Chan recently participated in a key Vision 2030-affiliated event, the Future Investment Initiative (FII), which was hosted in Riyadh in October 2021. Held closely after the inaugural Saudi Green Initiative Forum, this year’s FII summit marked the fifth edition of the annual high-level conference following its launch in 2017. The focus of this year’s event was “Invest in Humanity.” The summit – informally labeled as Davos in the Desert – brings together an influential community of global investors and innovators, including heads of state, CEOs and top entrepreneurs. Through an interactive program featuring conversations with global leaders, executive roundtables, panel discussions and networking events, the FII provides leadership on the future of global investment in key areas that advance human prosperity. The summit is held over a packed three-day period. Now in its fifth year, the FII is already having a tangible impact on shaping the future of global investment. President Chan participated in a panel focused on investing in education. In his speech he called on universities around the world to take a leading role in developing green technologies. He also highlighted KAUST’s recent advancements in green technology and energy investment, including KAUST-based agriculture technology firm Red Sea Farms’ $10 million investment in equipment to hydroponically grow plants from seawater. He is one of eight board of trustee members for the FII Institute, the organization behind the summit. The other board members are HE the Public Investment Fund Governor Yasir Al Rumayyan; HRH the Saudi Ambassador to the US Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud; UAE entrepreneur and Founder of Emaar Properties Mohamed Alabbar; former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi; entrepreneur and Founder of the XPrize Foundation Peter Diamandis; one of Forbes’ top-10 most influential female engineers, Professor Adah Almutairi; and FII Institute CEO Richard Attias. KAUST experts also participated in panel discussions on climate change, with professor Mani Sarathy moderating a panel on preparing cities for a warmer climate. KAUST PhD Student Natalia Odnoletkova was one of the speakers. KAUST’s Head of Sustainability Ana Margarida Costa participated in a panel on the impact of climate change, and KAUST’s Red Sea Research Center Director Carlos Duarte participated in a panel on investing in oceans.

TONY CHAN President of KAUST

TAKING MEANINGFUL ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE IS A NECESSITY. UNIVERSITIES CAN NO LONGER BE IVORY TOWERS WHEN HUMANITY FACES ITS BIGGEST CHALLENGE. THE PLANET WHERE WE LIVE AND THRIVE NEEDS OUR COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY.


17 CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT 18

CHAMPIONING YOUTH CLIMATE ENGAGEMENT KAUST senior leadership and students joined top policymakers at the inaugural Saudi Green Initiative Forum In October 2021, KAUST participated in the inaugural Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) Forum and its adjoining Youth Green Summit. Participants included KAUST students Eman Alhajji, Natalia Odnoletkova and Taiba Alamoudi, along with KAUST President Tony Chan, KAUST’s Head of Sustainability Ana Margarida Costa, and CEO of McDonough Innovation and KAUST Distinguished Research Professor William McDonough. Described as a holistic government climate action initiative, the SGI is Saudi Arabia’s pioneering strategy for creating a greener future and becoming a leader of climate action. The initiative was introduced in March 2021, and October of that year marked its official launch at the SGI Forum – a threeday summit that brought together policymakers, the private sector, civil society, youth and global leaders. The launch of the SGI is illustrative of the Kingdom’s new, more engaged and proactive approach to climate action. It serves as an umbrella for the country’s recent climate pledges, including drastically reducing CO2 emissions, embracing renewable energy, increasing protected nature reserves and planting billions of trees. It also provides a platform for coordinating future projects and targets. The Youth Green Summit was held on the second day of the SGI Forum. It was a gathering of young climate leaders and students from the Kingdom and beyond, with panel discussions and interactive workshops on the future of climate action. Over 75 speakers participated in the event, including high-level government officials, CEOs, investors, innovators, thought leaders and youth leadership role models. The summit sent a clear message that Saudi Arabia is committed to a green future, and its young people will help lead the way. KAUST students at the summit were both in the audience and on stage. KAUST PhD candidate and President of the KAUST Students for Sustainability group Eman Alhajji interviewed HRH the Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman Al Saud in an intergenerational discussion and question-and-answer session. The minister spoke of the capacity of Saudi youth to contribute to the transformation that the Kingdom is going through, and the importance of their role in shaping Saudi Arabia’s future. President Chan joined HRH Princess Noura Bint Turki Al-Saud from Aeon Strategy to host the Climate Action Challenge, focused on simulating actions in line with the Paris Agreement. Costa and Odnoletkova led a workshop on reducing carbon emissions, while Alamoudi led a workshop on preserving marine life. McDonough discussed the role of eco-entrepreneurs in meeting the challenges posed by climate change. KAUST’s participation in events such as the SGI is representative of how the university’s talent can directly help policymakers shape national priorities, as well as deliver practical, real-world results.

PROMOTING GREEN INVESTMENT AND RESEARCH FII INSTITUTE “What we need today are real-world solutions that create a positive impact on humanity. By partnering with KAUST, the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute takes the world’s best ideas out of the labs and makes them accessible to a market looking for answers.” Richard Attias, CEO of the FII Institute EMAN ALHAJJI PhD Candidate and President of Students for Sustainability

AS A YOUTH DELEGATE, I WAS TRULY HONORED TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY OF ENGAGING IN AN INTERGENERATIONAL DIALOGUE WITH HRH PRINCE ABDULAZIZ ON SAUDI ARABIA’S NEW GREEN PRIORITIES AND INITIATIVES.

McDONOUGH INNOVATION “At the Saudi Green Initiative, the minister of energy announced the goal of net-zero emissions by 2060, echoing US President Kennedy’s ask to have a human on the moon in a decade. The NASA team succeeded in nine years. I have no doubt that the youth of Saudi Arabia will deliver this vision with similar speed, alacrity and success – ahead of schedule.” William McDonough, CEO of McDonough Innovation and KAUST Distinguished Research Professor

KAUST participated in the Future Investment Initiative to advocate for sustainability and climate-focused investments

KAUST experts and President Tony Chan recently participated in a key Vision 2030-affiliated event, the Future Investment Initiative (FII), which was hosted in Riyadh in October 2021. Held closely after the inaugural Saudi Green Initiative Forum, this year’s FII summit marked the fifth edition of the annual high-level conference following its launch in 2017. The focus of this year’s event was “Invest in Humanity.” The summit – informally labeled as Davos in the Desert – brings together an influential community of global investors and innovators, including heads of state, CEOs and top entrepreneurs. Through an interactive program featuring conversations with global leaders, executive roundtables, panel discussions and networking events, the FII provides leadership on the future of global investment in key areas that advance human prosperity. The summit is held over a packed three-day period. Now in its fifth year, the FII is already having a tangible impact on shaping the future of global investment. President Chan participated in a panel focused on investing in education. In his speech he called on universities around the world to take a leading role in developing green technologies. He also highlighted KAUST’s recent advancements in green technology and energy investment, including KAUST-based agriculture technology firm Red Sea Farms’ $10 million investment in equipment to hydroponically grow plants from seawater. He is one of eight board of trustee members for the FII Institute, the organization behind the summit. The other board members are HE the Public Investment Fund Governor Yasir Al Rumayyan; HRH the Saudi Ambassador to the US Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud; UAE entrepreneur and Founder of Emaar Properties Mohamed Alabbar; former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi; entrepreneur and Founder of the XPrize Foundation Peter Diamandis; one of Forbes’ top-10 most influential female engineers, Professor Adah Almutairi; and FII Institute CEO Richard Attias. KAUST experts also participated in panel discussions on climate change, with professor Mani Sarathy moderating a panel on preparing cities for a warmer climate. KAUST PhD Student Natalia Odnoletkova was one of the speakers. KAUST’s Head of Sustainability Ana Margarida Costa participated in a panel on the impact of climate change, and KAUST’s Red Sea Research Center Director Carlos Duarte participated in a panel on investing in oceans.

TONY CHAN President of KAUST

TAKING MEANINGFUL ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE IS A NECESSITY. UNIVERSITIES CAN NO LONGER BE IVORY TOWERS WHEN HUMANITY FACES ITS BIGGEST CHALLENGE. THE PLANET WHERE WE LIVE AND THRIVE NEEDS OUR COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY.


19 CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

SATELLITE MONITORING OF SAUDI ECOSYSTEMS AND OCEANS

ASSISTING THE KINGDOM’S NEW CLIMATE CENTERS

KAUST to provide technical expertise for two national climate centers NATIONAL CENTER FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH “KAUST’s state-of-the-art forecast system for the Arabian Peninsula, which remains under-resolved by global models, should help to inform decisions on many time scales. This facilitates better planning

adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. The institution will compile, produce and share research and information related to climatology using advanced modeling, analysis and the prediction of climate variations. These will help facilitate science-based decision-making and practical applications that will be of direct benefit to the Kingdom. KAUST signed the agreements with the National Center for Meteorology (NCM), which is developing the new facilities along with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture. NCM is responsible for providing continuous weather forecasts, ensuring safe air travel, protecting crops from drought or heavy rain, and issuing air-quality advisories for public health. Previously part of the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection, NCM was created in 2019. KAUST has had an ongoing collaboration with what is now NCM since 2016, providing consultation and training on high-performance computing for weather forecasting.

and preparation for, and mitigation of possible adverse outcomes.”

KAUST and Spire Global to launch a novel nanosatellite to map Saudi Arabia’s habitats, monitor vegetation health and explore coastal ecosystems

MATTHEW McCABE Director of the KAUST Climate and Livability Initiative

THE DATA FROM THE CUBESAT WILL BE INVALUABLE

Kevin Trenberth, Distinguished Scholar at the National Center for Atmospheric Research

FOR PROVIDING NEW INFORMATION ON THE STATE OF EXISTING ECOSYSTEMS, AND MONITORING CHANGES RESULTING FROM IMPROVED

KAUST signed agreements in support of two new centers in the Kingdom aimed at mitigating the impact of climate change in the Middle East: the National Center for Climate Change, and the Regional Sand and Dust Storms Early Warning and Advisory Center. Coinciding with the launch of the Saudi Green Initiative, the centers are yet another sign of Saudi Arabia’s latest push to address climate change more actively. In cooperation with the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, KAUST will develop a computer modeling system for dust prediction and web-based publishing software, and evaluate the quality of forecasts. The system will be developed and run on KAUST’s Shaheen II supercomputer. KAUST Professor of Earth Science and Engineering Dr. Georgiy Stenchikov is a key expert in this project and will lead KAUST’s efforts to create the modeling systems. The National Center for Climate Change will be the central coordinating authority for climate change science in Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region. It will provide the tools and information needed to mitigate and

MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES – SOMETHING THAT CAN BE USED TO SUPPORT ASPECTS OF THE SAUDI AND MIDDLE EAST GREEN INITIATIVES. DR. GEORGIY STENCHIKOV Professor of Earth Science and Engineering

SPIRE GLOBAL AT A TIME WHEN RISING GLOBAL TEMPERATURES ARE EXACERBATING CLIMATE EXTREMES AND NATURAL HAZARDS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, KAUST’S COLLABORATION WITH THE NEW CLIMATE CENTERS WILL HELP TO FACILITATE INFORMED ENVIRONMENTAL DECISION-MAKING IN THE KINGDOM AND THE WIDER GCC.

“The technological progress made in Saudi Arabia and across the wider region in recent years has been impressive, and we are pleased the country is the location for our first space service agreement in the Middle East. We look forward to further collaboration with KAUST.” Dan Isaac Rivera, Business Development Executive at Spire Global

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT 20

KAUST and Spire Global, a provider of space-based data, analytics and space services, are planning to launch a first-of-its-kind nanosatellite into space in late 2022. The satellite will collect high-resolution data on Saudi Arabia’s terrestrial, coastal and ocean ecosystems over three years to improve our understanding of these ecosystems. Matthew McCabe, professor of remote sensing and water security, and director of the new KAUST Climate and Livability Initiative, is coordinating the project. The mission will see the launch of CubeSats – specialized, shoeboxsized satellites built from off-the-shelf components and sensors that make them comparatively cheap to construct and deploy. Conventional satellite design normally takes years, and traditional satellite data used for research is predominantly collected by government space agencies. CubeSats are transforming our ability to monitor the earth’s surface and the impact of human activity on the planet. Emerging sensors and remotesensing tools such as CubeSats offer an improved capacity to track and monitor environmental changes such as water or land use. CubeSats can collect meter-scale spatial details of Earth’s terrestrial surfaces on a daily basis. Once launched, CubeSats orbit Earth at heights of 350 to 500 km, transmitting data for a period of a few weeks to over a year before ultimately burning upon reentry into the atmosphere. “In the past, launching a satellite was the sole domain of governments, with costs well beyond the reach of a university. CubeSats are helping to democratize space, providing the opportunity to launch a customized platform at a fraction of the traditional cost,” McCabe said. McCabe has been using data from CubeSats and other satellites since 2018 as part of a project to help monitor water and food security issues in the Kingdom. The data is used to observe crop health and irrigation rates, which can help to build a clearer picture of water use and guide future policies. CubeSats can also be used to retrieve high-quality imagery of individual fields on a daily basis. As a result, machine-learning techniques can assess the health and condition of individual crops using metrics such as the leaf area index and transpiration rates. This will enable more accurate predictions of potential yields and can pinpoint when and where problems start, allowing farmers to take appropriate action. What is unique about this project is that it will combine two types of sensors. The nanosatellite will carry a high-performance hyperspectral sensor with the capability to observe areas of interest anywhere in the world across more than 30 user-configurable spectral bands in the visible and near-infrared spectrum. The data generated by this sensor can be combined with Spire’s Global Navigation Satellite System receiver to monitor critical variables such as the presence of moisture in the soil. Combining these two capabilities should deliver unique insights across multiple domains including agriculture, forestry and land management.


19 CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

SATELLITE MONITORING OF SAUDI ECOSYSTEMS AND OCEANS

ASSISTING THE KINGDOM’S NEW CLIMATE CENTERS

KAUST to provide technical expertise for two national climate centers NATIONAL CENTER FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH “KAUST’s state-of-the-art forecast system for the Arabian Peninsula, which remains under-resolved by global models, should help to inform decisions on many time scales. This facilitates better planning

adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. The institution will compile, produce and share research and information related to climatology using advanced modeling, analysis and the prediction of climate variations. These will help facilitate science-based decision-making and practical applications that will be of direct benefit to the Kingdom. KAUST signed the agreements with the National Center for Meteorology (NCM), which is developing the new facilities along with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture. NCM is responsible for providing continuous weather forecasts, ensuring safe air travel, protecting crops from drought or heavy rain, and issuing air-quality advisories for public health. Previously part of the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection, NCM was created in 2019. KAUST has had an ongoing collaboration with what is now NCM since 2016, providing consultation and training on high-performance computing for weather forecasting.

and preparation for, and mitigation of possible adverse outcomes.”

KAUST and Spire Global to launch a novel nanosatellite to map Saudi Arabia’s habitats, monitor vegetation health and explore coastal ecosystems

MATTHEW McCABE Director of the KAUST Climate and Livability Initiative

THE DATA FROM THE CUBESAT WILL BE INVALUABLE

Kevin Trenberth, Distinguished Scholar at the National Center for Atmospheric Research

FOR PROVIDING NEW INFORMATION ON THE STATE OF EXISTING ECOSYSTEMS, AND MONITORING CHANGES RESULTING FROM IMPROVED

KAUST signed agreements in support of two new centers in the Kingdom aimed at mitigating the impact of climate change in the Middle East: the National Center for Climate Change, and the Regional Sand and Dust Storms Early Warning and Advisory Center. Coinciding with the launch of the Saudi Green Initiative, the centers are yet another sign of Saudi Arabia’s latest push to address climate change more actively. In cooperation with the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, KAUST will develop a computer modeling system for dust prediction and web-based publishing software, and evaluate the quality of forecasts. The system will be developed and run on KAUST’s Shaheen II supercomputer. KAUST Professor of Earth Science and Engineering Dr. Georgiy Stenchikov is a key expert in this project and will lead KAUST’s efforts to create the modeling systems. The National Center for Climate Change will be the central coordinating authority for climate change science in Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region. It will provide the tools and information needed to mitigate and

MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES – SOMETHING THAT CAN BE USED TO SUPPORT ASPECTS OF THE SAUDI AND MIDDLE EAST GREEN INITIATIVES. DR. GEORGIY STENCHIKOV Professor of Earth Science and Engineering

SPIRE GLOBAL AT A TIME WHEN RISING GLOBAL TEMPERATURES ARE EXACERBATING CLIMATE EXTREMES AND NATURAL HAZARDS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, KAUST’S COLLABORATION WITH THE NEW CLIMATE CENTERS WILL HELP TO FACILITATE INFORMED ENVIRONMENTAL DECISION-MAKING IN THE KINGDOM AND THE WIDER GCC.

“The technological progress made in Saudi Arabia and across the wider region in recent years has been impressive, and we are pleased the country is the location for our first space service agreement in the Middle East. We look forward to further collaboration with KAUST.” Dan Isaac Rivera, Business Development Executive at Spire Global

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT 20

KAUST and Spire Global, a provider of space-based data, analytics and space services, are planning to launch a first-of-its-kind nanosatellite into space in late 2022. The satellite will collect high-resolution data on Saudi Arabia’s terrestrial, coastal and ocean ecosystems over three years to improve our understanding of these ecosystems. Matthew McCabe, professor of remote sensing and water security, and director of the new KAUST Climate and Livability Initiative, is coordinating the project. The mission will see the launch of CubeSats – specialized, shoeboxsized satellites built from off-the-shelf components and sensors that make them comparatively cheap to construct and deploy. Conventional satellite design normally takes years, and traditional satellite data used for research is predominantly collected by government space agencies. CubeSats are transforming our ability to monitor the earth’s surface and the impact of human activity on the planet. Emerging sensors and remotesensing tools such as CubeSats offer an improved capacity to track and monitor environmental changes such as water or land use. CubeSats can collect meter-scale spatial details of Earth’s terrestrial surfaces on a daily basis. Once launched, CubeSats orbit Earth at heights of 350 to 500 km, transmitting data for a period of a few weeks to over a year before ultimately burning upon reentry into the atmosphere. “In the past, launching a satellite was the sole domain of governments, with costs well beyond the reach of a university. CubeSats are helping to democratize space, providing the opportunity to launch a customized platform at a fraction of the traditional cost,” McCabe said. McCabe has been using data from CubeSats and other satellites since 2018 as part of a project to help monitor water and food security issues in the Kingdom. The data is used to observe crop health and irrigation rates, which can help to build a clearer picture of water use and guide future policies. CubeSats can also be used to retrieve high-quality imagery of individual fields on a daily basis. As a result, machine-learning techniques can assess the health and condition of individual crops using metrics such as the leaf area index and transpiration rates. This will enable more accurate predictions of potential yields and can pinpoint when and where problems start, allowing farmers to take appropriate action. What is unique about this project is that it will combine two types of sensors. The nanosatellite will carry a high-performance hyperspectral sensor with the capability to observe areas of interest anywhere in the world across more than 30 user-configurable spectral bands in the visible and near-infrared spectrum. The data generated by this sensor can be combined with Spire’s Global Navigation Satellite System receiver to monitor critical variables such as the presence of moisture in the soil. Combining these two capabilities should deliver unique insights across multiple domains including agriculture, forestry and land management.


21 FUTURE TECH

FUTURE TECH 22

LEADING THE FUTURE OF AI RESEARCH KAUST’s Artificial Intelligence Initiative is attracting top-tier talent as it scales up The KAUST Artificial Intelligence (AI) Initiative made headlines in September 2021 when it announced that Dr. Jürgen Schmidhuber, a world-renowned computer scientist and AI expert, would join the university and serve as director of the innovative program. The initiative is the university’s next step toward its goal of becoming an international leader in the field, as it works to embed AI across its disciplines and activities. In hiring Schmidhuber, the university gains a leader with an international reputation, adding gravitas to the effort and accelerating its pace of development. Schmidhuber has been a global leader in AI for three decades, and first achieved fame for his role in inventing the Long ShortTerm Memory (LSTM) Network. He is among the world’s foremost experts in artificial neural networks, has authored more than 350 peer-reviewed papers and served as an advisor to multiple governments on AI strategies.

Writing in the magazine Scientific American in 2017, he described a vision broader than the next industrial revolution: “As a boy, I wanted to maximize my impact on the world, so I decided I would build a self-improving AI that could learn to become much smarter than I am.” Prior to joining KAUST, in 2014 he co-founded the Swiss firm NNAISENSE to build large-scale neural-network solutions for industry. He earned his PhD in computer science from the Technical University of Munich. Most recently, he held the title of scientific director at the Swiss AI Lab IDSIA and was a professor of AI at the University of Lugano in Switzerland. He joins another high-profile hire from the AI scene, Lawrence Carin, who was named KAUST Provost in January 2021. Carin comes from Duke University, where he served as the vice president for research. As an illustration of KAUST’s strength in AI and machine learning, in July 2021, KAUST researchers placed Saudi Arabia among the top-20 countries

in the world for the number of papers appearing in the highly selective International Conference on Machine Learning, with all of the papers contributed by the Kingdom coming from KAUST. AI is a key enabler of KAUST’s long-term strategy, and Saudi Arabia has seeded it across its Vision 2030 goals. AI has been used to prevent cyberattacks, reduce the spread of COVID-19 and digitalize public services. Vision 2030 envisions a 54% reduction in dwell time at maritime ports, for example, and the launch of smart cities such as NEOM. Schmidhuber’s role at KAUST will include recruiting new faculty members and developing educational and entrepreneurial

His work underpins many of the technologies the world relies on today, such as the technology powering Apple’s personal assistant, Siri, as well as Amazon’s Alexa. He also helped create the speech-recognition technology that is used in Android smartphones, as well as the LSTM technology Facebook started using in 2017 that translates around 30 billion messages a day – a rate of nearly 350,000 messages per second.

LAWRENCE CARIN Provost

WE WILL WORK WITH THE SAUDI DATA AND ARTIFICIAL

Schmidhuber also has expertise in deep learning and the detection of cancer using medical imaging. Even so, he considers his role and life goals as transcending any one product, company or scientific narrative.

INTELLIGENCE (AI) AUTHORITY IN DATA SCIENCE AND AI IN AREAS THAT INCLUDE HEALTH, ENERGY, THE ENVIRONMENT,

NEW FACULTY RECRUIT TO KAUST

WATER AND AGRICULTURE, AS WELL AS BIOINFORMATICS

“We hope the KAUST AI Initiative will help create a

AND NATURAL LANGUAGE

new golden age for science – notably, in automatic

PROCESSING TO JOINTLY

information processing – similar to the Islamic golden age that started over a millennium ago, when the Middle East was leading the world in science and technology.” Dr. Jürgen Schmidhuber, Director of the KAUST AI Initiative

programs, which is expected to facilitate increased KAUST collaboration with key public and private sector institutions in Saudi Arabia. This will include working with the National Center for AI, a division of the Saudi Data and AI Authority, to collaborate on academic programs, support emerging companies involved in AI, and develop infrastructure and data for use in research and innovation. For the KAUST AI Initiative, the next steps will include bringing together faculty members from the community to pursue machine learning, deep learning, robotics, bioinformatics and natural language processing, as well as non-traditional architectures for these technologies.

DEVELOP ACADEMIC PROGRAMS, AND SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF AI STARTUPS AND THE COMMERCIALIZATION OF AI RESEARCH.


21 FUTURE TECH

FUTURE TECH 22

LEADING THE FUTURE OF AI RESEARCH KAUST’s Artificial Intelligence Initiative is attracting top-tier talent as it scales up The KAUST Artificial Intelligence (AI) Initiative made headlines in September 2021 when it announced that Dr. Jürgen Schmidhuber, a world-renowned computer scientist and AI expert, would join the university and serve as director of the innovative program. The initiative is the university’s next step toward its goal of becoming an international leader in the field, as it works to embed AI across its disciplines and activities. In hiring Schmidhuber, the university gains a leader with an international reputation, adding gravitas to the effort and accelerating its pace of development. Schmidhuber has been a global leader in AI for three decades, and first achieved fame for his role in inventing the Long ShortTerm Memory (LSTM) Network. He is among the world’s foremost experts in artificial neural networks, has authored more than 350 peer-reviewed papers and served as an advisor to multiple governments on AI strategies.

Writing in the magazine Scientific American in 2017, he described a vision broader than the next industrial revolution: “As a boy, I wanted to maximize my impact on the world, so I decided I would build a self-improving AI that could learn to become much smarter than I am.” Prior to joining KAUST, in 2014 he co-founded the Swiss firm NNAISENSE to build large-scale neural-network solutions for industry. He earned his PhD in computer science from the Technical University of Munich. Most recently, he held the title of scientific director at the Swiss AI Lab IDSIA and was a professor of AI at the University of Lugano in Switzerland. He joins another high-profile hire from the AI scene, Lawrence Carin, who was named KAUST Provost in January 2021. Carin comes from Duke University, where he served as the vice president for research. As an illustration of KAUST’s strength in AI and machine learning, in July 2021, KAUST researchers placed Saudi Arabia among the top-20 countries

in the world for the number of papers appearing in the highly selective International Conference on Machine Learning, with all of the papers contributed by the Kingdom coming from KAUST. AI is a key enabler of KAUST’s long-term strategy, and Saudi Arabia has seeded it across its Vision 2030 goals. AI has been used to prevent cyberattacks, reduce the spread of COVID-19 and digitalize public services. Vision 2030 envisions a 54% reduction in dwell time at maritime ports, for example, and the launch of smart cities such as NEOM. Schmidhuber’s role at KAUST will include recruiting new faculty members and developing educational and entrepreneurial

His work underpins many of the technologies the world relies on today, such as the technology powering Apple’s personal assistant, Siri, as well as Amazon’s Alexa. He also helped create the speech-recognition technology that is used in Android smartphones, as well as the LSTM technology Facebook started using in 2017 that translates around 30 billion messages a day – a rate of nearly 350,000 messages per second.

LAWRENCE CARIN Provost

WE WILL WORK WITH THE SAUDI DATA AND ARTIFICIAL

Schmidhuber also has expertise in deep learning and the detection of cancer using medical imaging. Even so, he considers his role and life goals as transcending any one product, company or scientific narrative.

INTELLIGENCE (AI) AUTHORITY IN DATA SCIENCE AND AI IN AREAS THAT INCLUDE HEALTH, ENERGY, THE ENVIRONMENT,

NEW FACULTY RECRUIT TO KAUST

WATER AND AGRICULTURE, AS WELL AS BIOINFORMATICS

“We hope the KAUST AI Initiative will help create a

AND NATURAL LANGUAGE

new golden age for science – notably, in automatic

PROCESSING TO JOINTLY

information processing – similar to the Islamic golden age that started over a millennium ago, when the Middle East was leading the world in science and technology.” Dr. Jürgen Schmidhuber, Director of the KAUST AI Initiative

programs, which is expected to facilitate increased KAUST collaboration with key public and private sector institutions in Saudi Arabia. This will include working with the National Center for AI, a division of the Saudi Data and AI Authority, to collaborate on academic programs, support emerging companies involved in AI, and develop infrastructure and data for use in research and innovation. For the KAUST AI Initiative, the next steps will include bringing together faculty members from the community to pursue machine learning, deep learning, robotics, bioinformatics and natural language processing, as well as non-traditional architectures for these technologies.

DEVELOP ACADEMIC PROGRAMS, AND SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF AI STARTUPS AND THE COMMERCIALIZATION OF AI RESEARCH.


23 FUTURE TECH

FUTURE TECH 24

PROMOTING HIGH-PERFORMANCE COMPOSITE MATERIALS

SPURRING THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION IN SAUDI ARABIA

KAUST and NIDLP to establish a Fourth Industrial Revolution capability center

New initiative aims to share knowledge, drive innovation, and boost Saudi Arabia’s petrochemicals and advanced industries DR. NAJAH ASHRY Vice President for Strategic National Advancement

THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION WILL HAVE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON THE SAUDI ECONOMY. STRATEGIC PLANNING TO

LAWRENCE CARIN Provost

ESTABLISH DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE WILL

THE LEADERSHIP OF PROFESSOR GILLES LUBINEAU IN FOSTERING THE SAUDI ARABIAN SOCIETY FOR COMPOSITES IS A PERTINENT EXAMPLE OF HOW

UNIVERSITY. STRENGTHENING LINKAGES BETWEEN KAUST AND OTHER LOCAL INSTITUTIONS IS A MAJOR PRIORITY, AND THE SUCCESS OF SASCOM SERVES AS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF WHAT IS POSSIBLE. A new KAUST initiative seeks to boost Saudi Arabia’s role in global petrochemicals and advanced industries, including aeronautics, civil engineering and automotives. The newly created Saudi Arabian Society for Composite Materials (SASCOM) aims to facilitate collaboration among scientists, engineers, academics and the private sector to drive innovation, promote the adoption of composite materials that play an important role in the Saudi economy and address the challenges of modern society. The group was founded by Gilles Lubineau, professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean for faculty for the Physical Science and Engineering Division.

Almuhammadi of Aramco. The board also includes prominent international scientists who are members of key academies. SASCOM aims to help Saudi Arabia meet its Vision 2030 goals by localizing high-level in-Kingdom expertise, supporting the training of the necessary workforce as well as making Saudi Arabia a leader in composite engineering. Indeed, composite materials are a key enabling technology to many segments that are critical to the future of the Kingdom. “Composites create opportunities in applications ranging from oil and gas, renewable energy and alternative energy sources such as hydrogen,” said Dr. Nikhil Verghese, corporate fellow at SABIC. “The key to their adoption, however, is training and practical experience. The creation of SASCOM is a major step in this direction.”

SABIC “Non-metallic solutions such as composite materials have significant potential in a time of decarbonization. It is important to ensure there is awareness and

Since its founding in May 2021, SASCOM has conducted seminars, introduced short online courses and provided an online platform for scientists to share their work with others. It envisions itself as a platform for experts to connect with each other and industries, and to help industries find the right people for projects requiring composites expertise. As of December 2021, the group had attracted 122 members from 12 countries: Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the UAE, the UK and the US. SASCOM’s scientific board features key players in the engineering of composite materials, such as Dr. Fahad Al-Khodairi of SABIC and Dr. Khaled

HELP PREPARE THE KINGDOM’S INNOVATION

“I am honored to witness the signing of the

ENVIRONMENT TO DRIVE RAPID GROWTH,

memorandum of understanding between KAUST

AS GUIDED BY VISION 2030.

and NIDLP, and I look forward to the swathe of opportunities that it will bring to the industrial,

LEADING RESEARCH AND EDUCATION AT KAUST CAN IMPACT SAUDI RESEARCHERS OUTSIDE THE

MINISTRY OF INDUSTRY AND MINERAL RESOURCES

knowledge creation in Saudi Arabia for such solutions, and SASCOM will help in that regard. Similar associations in the US and Europe have played crucial roles in bringing the value chain together.” Bob Maughon, Executive Vice President of Sustainability, Technology and Innovation, and Chief Technology and Chief Sustainability Officer at SABIC

KAUST is working to advance Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies in the Kingdom in collaboration with leading national partners. In June 2021, KAUST announced a partnership with the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP) to establish a capability center for the 4IR in the western region of Saudi Arabia. The partners signed a memorandum of understanding that seeks to accelerate the adoption of 4IR technologies in promising growth sectors in the Kingdom, including industry, mining, energy and logistics. Launched in 2019, NIDLP aims to transform the Kingdom into a leading industrial powerhouse and global logistics hub. It is seeking to maximize the value of Saudi Arabia’s mining and energy sectors, while unlocking the full potential of local content and using it in the 4IR. The 4IR, also known as Industry 4.0, refers to the emerging age of digitalization. It touches on a host of themes ranging from smart cities to digitally connected products, as well as the automation of tasks and services at home and work. 4IR technologies include artificial intelligence, augmented reality, blockchain, drones, the internet of things, robotics, virtual reality and 3D printing, to name a few. Saudi Arabia is targeting the development and implementation of 4IR technologies to create new sectors, improve livelihoods and diversify the Kingdom’s economy under Vision 2030. It has been estimated that revenue from 4IR technologies could generate around SAR1 trillion for the economy by 2030. In July 2021, Saudi Arabia hosted its first dedicated forum on the future of the 4IR. The event was organized by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, and the World Economic Forum. 4IR technologies,

energy, mining and logistics sectors.” HE Bandar Bin Ibrahim Al-Khorayef, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, and Chairman of NIDLP

as well as good governance, will be particularly important at the planned mega-city NEOM, which will be a hotbed for innovation and future-oriented technological development. A number of entities focusing on 4IR technologies had been established in the Kingdom as of mid-2021, including the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence; the National Cybersecurity Authority; the Digital Government Authority; and the Research, Development and Innovation Authority. Harnessing the potential of the 4IR is a top priority for KAUST, and the university already has substantial expertise across various 4IR technologies. A number of innovative, technology-focused initiatives have taken root at the university as part of the KAUST 2.0 strategy. These include the KAUST Smart Health Initiative; the Resilient Computing and Cybersecurity Center; the KAUST Artificial Intelligence Initiative; and the university’s smart cities initiative, KAUST Smart. As an indication of the importance of the 4IR to KAUST’s development, the university added a digital pillar to its primary pillars of environment, water, food and energy. As part of the collaboration, KAUST and NIDLP will team up to develop a roadmap and programs for the new capability center, define its frameworks and processes for providing services via a unified digital platform, and work with the authorities to determine the necessary criteria for classifying certain national capability centers as 4IR capability centers.


23 FUTURE TECH

FUTURE TECH 24

PROMOTING HIGH-PERFORMANCE COMPOSITE MATERIALS

SPURRING THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION IN SAUDI ARABIA

KAUST and NIDLP to establish a Fourth Industrial Revolution capability center

New initiative aims to share knowledge, drive innovation, and boost Saudi Arabia’s petrochemicals and advanced industries DR. NAJAH ASHRY Vice President for Strategic National Advancement

THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION WILL HAVE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON THE SAUDI ECONOMY. STRATEGIC PLANNING TO

LAWRENCE CARIN Provost

ESTABLISH DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE WILL

THE LEADERSHIP OF PROFESSOR GILLES LUBINEAU IN FOSTERING THE SAUDI ARABIAN SOCIETY FOR COMPOSITES IS A PERTINENT EXAMPLE OF HOW

UNIVERSITY. STRENGTHENING LINKAGES BETWEEN KAUST AND OTHER LOCAL INSTITUTIONS IS A MAJOR PRIORITY, AND THE SUCCESS OF SASCOM SERVES AS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF WHAT IS POSSIBLE. A new KAUST initiative seeks to boost Saudi Arabia’s role in global petrochemicals and advanced industries, including aeronautics, civil engineering and automotives. The newly created Saudi Arabian Society for Composite Materials (SASCOM) aims to facilitate collaboration among scientists, engineers, academics and the private sector to drive innovation, promote the adoption of composite materials that play an important role in the Saudi economy and address the challenges of modern society. The group was founded by Gilles Lubineau, professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean for faculty for the Physical Science and Engineering Division.

Almuhammadi of Aramco. The board also includes prominent international scientists who are members of key academies. SASCOM aims to help Saudi Arabia meet its Vision 2030 goals by localizing high-level in-Kingdom expertise, supporting the training of the necessary workforce as well as making Saudi Arabia a leader in composite engineering. Indeed, composite materials are a key enabling technology to many segments that are critical to the future of the Kingdom. “Composites create opportunities in applications ranging from oil and gas, renewable energy and alternative energy sources such as hydrogen,” said Dr. Nikhil Verghese, corporate fellow at SABIC. “The key to their adoption, however, is training and practical experience. The creation of SASCOM is a major step in this direction.”

SABIC “Non-metallic solutions such as composite materials have significant potential in a time of decarbonization. It is important to ensure there is awareness and

Since its founding in May 2021, SASCOM has conducted seminars, introduced short online courses and provided an online platform for scientists to share their work with others. It envisions itself as a platform for experts to connect with each other and industries, and to help industries find the right people for projects requiring composites expertise. As of December 2021, the group had attracted 122 members from 12 countries: Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the UAE, the UK and the US. SASCOM’s scientific board features key players in the engineering of composite materials, such as Dr. Fahad Al-Khodairi of SABIC and Dr. Khaled

HELP PREPARE THE KINGDOM’S INNOVATION

“I am honored to witness the signing of the

ENVIRONMENT TO DRIVE RAPID GROWTH,

memorandum of understanding between KAUST

AS GUIDED BY VISION 2030.

and NIDLP, and I look forward to the swathe of opportunities that it will bring to the industrial,

LEADING RESEARCH AND EDUCATION AT KAUST CAN IMPACT SAUDI RESEARCHERS OUTSIDE THE

MINISTRY OF INDUSTRY AND MINERAL RESOURCES

knowledge creation in Saudi Arabia for such solutions, and SASCOM will help in that regard. Similar associations in the US and Europe have played crucial roles in bringing the value chain together.” Bob Maughon, Executive Vice President of Sustainability, Technology and Innovation, and Chief Technology and Chief Sustainability Officer at SABIC

KAUST is working to advance Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies in the Kingdom in collaboration with leading national partners. In June 2021, KAUST announced a partnership with the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP) to establish a capability center for the 4IR in the western region of Saudi Arabia. The partners signed a memorandum of understanding that seeks to accelerate the adoption of 4IR technologies in promising growth sectors in the Kingdom, including industry, mining, energy and logistics. Launched in 2019, NIDLP aims to transform the Kingdom into a leading industrial powerhouse and global logistics hub. It is seeking to maximize the value of Saudi Arabia’s mining and energy sectors, while unlocking the full potential of local content and using it in the 4IR. The 4IR, also known as Industry 4.0, refers to the emerging age of digitalization. It touches on a host of themes ranging from smart cities to digitally connected products, as well as the automation of tasks and services at home and work. 4IR technologies include artificial intelligence, augmented reality, blockchain, drones, the internet of things, robotics, virtual reality and 3D printing, to name a few. Saudi Arabia is targeting the development and implementation of 4IR technologies to create new sectors, improve livelihoods and diversify the Kingdom’s economy under Vision 2030. It has been estimated that revenue from 4IR technologies could generate around SAR1 trillion for the economy by 2030. In July 2021, Saudi Arabia hosted its first dedicated forum on the future of the 4IR. The event was organized by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, and the World Economic Forum. 4IR technologies,

energy, mining and logistics sectors.” HE Bandar Bin Ibrahim Al-Khorayef, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, and Chairman of NIDLP

as well as good governance, will be particularly important at the planned mega-city NEOM, which will be a hotbed for innovation and future-oriented technological development. A number of entities focusing on 4IR technologies had been established in the Kingdom as of mid-2021, including the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence; the National Cybersecurity Authority; the Digital Government Authority; and the Research, Development and Innovation Authority. Harnessing the potential of the 4IR is a top priority for KAUST, and the university already has substantial expertise across various 4IR technologies. A number of innovative, technology-focused initiatives have taken root at the university as part of the KAUST 2.0 strategy. These include the KAUST Smart Health Initiative; the Resilient Computing and Cybersecurity Center; the KAUST Artificial Intelligence Initiative; and the university’s smart cities initiative, KAUST Smart. As an indication of the importance of the 4IR to KAUST’s development, the university added a digital pillar to its primary pillars of environment, water, food and energy. As part of the collaboration, KAUST and NIDLP will team up to develop a roadmap and programs for the new capability center, define its frameworks and processes for providing services via a unified digital platform, and work with the authorities to determine the necessary criteria for classifying certain national capability centers as 4IR capability centers.


TALENT 26

25 TALENT

RECEIVING THE HIGHEST SCIENTIFIC HONORS

Recognition of KAUST faculty includes prizes, honorary degrees and membership in prestigious global groups

KAUST faculty continued to draw notice and praise in global scientific communities in 2021, with members recognized through prizes for their work, invitations to join exclusive academic societies and other honors. Their contributions to global scientific inquiry are also contributions to Vision 2030, as they drive national ambition, introduce new innovations, and create startup companies that grow their work into valued products and services.

Bradley, who is also a Distinguished Professor of Materials Physics and Device Engineering, and Fellow of the Royal Society, was inaugurated as a Fellow of the US National Academy of Inventors, where fellowship is based on the significance of US patents granted. Bradley has more than 25 patent families to his name and co-founded Cambridge Display Technology, Ltd., among other companies. He is known for his contributions to the development of molecular electronic materials and devices, and is ranked among the 0.045% most cited applied physicists in the world. He joins four other KAUST faculty appointed to this prestigious US academy.

Professor of Chemical Engineering

Donal Bradley

Magistretti, a neuroscientist and physician, was elected as a foreign member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, which is the most prestigious academic honor in Italy. The academy is one of the oldest of its kind in the Western world, founded in 1603. Magistretti’s research includes exploring how the brain uses energy, and the cellular and molecular determinants of brain plasticity: the abilities of brains and nervous systems to restructure themselves.

Gascon was awarded an honorary doctorate from La Universidad de Alicante in Spain, his home country. The professor’s work, at the intersection of chemical engineering and materials science, includes the development of new materials and composites. Gascon is also the director of the KAUST Catalysis Center.

Chemical and Engineering News included Baran on their Talented 12 list for 2021 in recognition of her work to improve solar power through organic photovoltaics and other conversion technologies. Baran is the co-founder of the solar panels startup iyris, which has plans to scale up the production of windows she innovated that can double as solar cells. These alternatives to traditional solar panels, which use silicon, could increase efficiency at a lower cost.

CO2 conversion without mentioning [Gascon’s] work.” Professor Amparo Navarro Faure, Rector Magnificus of the University of Alicante

Distinguished Professor of Applied Mathematics and Computational Science

Håvard Rue

Professor of Statistics The UK’s Royal Statistical Society honored Rue with the Guy Medal in Silver for 2021, which goes to a Fellow of the society for exceptional research papers. The society noted Rue’s “significant contributions in the area of efficient and scalable computational techniques for the data analysts’ toolbox.” Rue applies his scholarship through R-INLA, a package to aid statistical analysis using R, a type of statistics software.

The American Mathematical Society named Markowich among the 45 new Fellows in its class of 2022. Fellows are mathematicians who have been recognized by the society for outstanding contributions to the field. Markowich was named for his scholarship on partial differential equations. One application of this research is the ability to compare the patterns of veins in leaves to the brain’s neural networks.

Carlos Duarte

Distinguished Professor of Marine Science Duarte was ranked the world’s leading marine biologist by volume of journal citations as of August 2021 by Scopus, the abstracts and citations curation service of Elsevier, a respected publisher of academic journals. Duarte was also appointed to the Spanish Royal Academy of Science as a foreign correspondent. The academy was founded in 1847 to promote cooperation among scientific scholars. As a marine scholar, Duarte is renowned for his ability to work in any climate, from tropical seas to polar waters.

The UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry has elected these KAUST professors as new Fellows. The society is the UK’s professional body for chemists, and it publishes research, fosters collaboration, and awards prizes and recognition.

Mohamed Eddaoudi

Professor of Material Science

Darya Baran

frameworks, gas separation membranes or catalytic

Peter Markowich

Osman Bakr

Associate Professor of Material Science and Engineering

“Nowadays it is impossible to talk about metal organic

Vice President for Research

Pierre Magistretti

Distinguished Professor and Director of the KAUST Smart Health Initiative

UNIVERSITY OF ALICANTE

Jorge Gascon

Distinguished Professor of Chemical Science

Niveen Khashab Professor of Chemical Science

Osman Bakr

Professor of Material Science Bakr is the recipient of the Kroll Medal & Prize for 2021, which is awarded by the UK-based Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining to people who make significant contributions to the scientific understanding of materials chemistry in the industrial production of inorganic materials. Bakr is a member of the KAUST Catalysis Center, and his work focuses on creating hybrid and inorganic materials to improve the capacity of renewable energy and the performance of devices that emit or detect light.

Yu Han

Professor of Chemical Science

Omar Mohammed

Associate Professor of Material Science and Engineering


TALENT 26

25 TALENT

RECEIVING THE HIGHEST SCIENTIFIC HONORS

Recognition of KAUST faculty includes prizes, honorary degrees and membership in prestigious global groups

KAUST faculty continued to draw notice and praise in global scientific communities in 2021, with members recognized through prizes for their work, invitations to join exclusive academic societies and other honors. Their contributions to global scientific inquiry are also contributions to Vision 2030, as they drive national ambition, introduce new innovations, and create startup companies that grow their work into valued products and services.

Bradley, who is also a Distinguished Professor of Materials Physics and Device Engineering, and Fellow of the Royal Society, was inaugurated as a Fellow of the US National Academy of Inventors, where fellowship is based on the significance of US patents granted. Bradley has more than 25 patent families to his name and co-founded Cambridge Display Technology, Ltd., among other companies. He is known for his contributions to the development of molecular electronic materials and devices, and is ranked among the 0.045% most cited applied physicists in the world. He joins four other KAUST faculty appointed to this prestigious US academy.

Professor of Chemical Engineering

Donal Bradley

Magistretti, a neuroscientist and physician, was elected as a foreign member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, which is the most prestigious academic honor in Italy. The academy is one of the oldest of its kind in the Western world, founded in 1603. Magistretti’s research includes exploring how the brain uses energy, and the cellular and molecular determinants of brain plasticity: the abilities of brains and nervous systems to restructure themselves.

Gascon was awarded an honorary doctorate from La Universidad de Alicante in Spain, his home country. The professor’s work, at the intersection of chemical engineering and materials science, includes the development of new materials and composites. Gascon is also the director of the KAUST Catalysis Center.

Chemical and Engineering News included Baran on their Talented 12 list for 2021 in recognition of her work to improve solar power through organic photovoltaics and other conversion technologies. Baran is the co-founder of the solar panels startup iyris, which has plans to scale up the production of windows she innovated that can double as solar cells. These alternatives to traditional solar panels, which use silicon, could increase efficiency at a lower cost.

CO2 conversion without mentioning [Gascon’s] work.” Professor Amparo Navarro Faure, Rector Magnificus of the University of Alicante

Distinguished Professor of Applied Mathematics and Computational Science

Håvard Rue

Professor of Statistics The UK’s Royal Statistical Society honored Rue with the Guy Medal in Silver for 2021, which goes to a Fellow of the society for exceptional research papers. The society noted Rue’s “significant contributions in the area of efficient and scalable computational techniques for the data analysts’ toolbox.” Rue applies his scholarship through R-INLA, a package to aid statistical analysis using R, a type of statistics software.

The American Mathematical Society named Markowich among the 45 new Fellows in its class of 2022. Fellows are mathematicians who have been recognized by the society for outstanding contributions to the field. Markowich was named for his scholarship on partial differential equations. One application of this research is the ability to compare the patterns of veins in leaves to the brain’s neural networks.

Carlos Duarte

Distinguished Professor of Marine Science Duarte was ranked the world’s leading marine biologist by volume of journal citations as of August 2021 by Scopus, the abstracts and citations curation service of Elsevier, a respected publisher of academic journals. Duarte was also appointed to the Spanish Royal Academy of Science as a foreign correspondent. The academy was founded in 1847 to promote cooperation among scientific scholars. As a marine scholar, Duarte is renowned for his ability to work in any climate, from tropical seas to polar waters.

The UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry has elected these KAUST professors as new Fellows. The society is the UK’s professional body for chemists, and it publishes research, fosters collaboration, and awards prizes and recognition.

Mohamed Eddaoudi

Professor of Material Science

Darya Baran

frameworks, gas separation membranes or catalytic

Peter Markowich

Osman Bakr

Associate Professor of Material Science and Engineering

“Nowadays it is impossible to talk about metal organic

Vice President for Research

Pierre Magistretti

Distinguished Professor and Director of the KAUST Smart Health Initiative

UNIVERSITY OF ALICANTE

Jorge Gascon

Distinguished Professor of Chemical Science

Niveen Khashab Professor of Chemical Science

Osman Bakr

Professor of Material Science Bakr is the recipient of the Kroll Medal & Prize for 2021, which is awarded by the UK-based Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining to people who make significant contributions to the scientific understanding of materials chemistry in the industrial production of inorganic materials. Bakr is a member of the KAUST Catalysis Center, and his work focuses on creating hybrid and inorganic materials to improve the capacity of renewable energy and the performance of devices that emit or detect light.

Yu Han

Professor of Chemical Science

Omar Mohammed

Associate Professor of Material Science and Engineering


27 TALENT

TALENT 28

DIVERSIFYING FACULTY TO EMPOWER SAUDI NATIONALS AND WOMEN

GAINING GLOBAL ATTENTION AND INNOVATING TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE KAUST is moving toward its strategic objective of a full faculty roster featuring more female and Saudi scholars

SUZANA NUNES Vice Provost

THE IBN RUSHD PROGRAM IS PIONEERING IN MANY WAYS. BEYOND ITS EXTENSIVE TRAINING AND GLOBAL OPPORTUNITIES, WE WANT TO INSPIRE A CULTURE OF INNOVATION WHEN IT COMES TO TALENT DEVELOPMENT. WE WANT PROSPECTIVE FACULTY TO SEE THE UNIQUE PATHWAYS THAT OPEN TO THEM WITH KAUST’S SUPPORT. KAUST continues to make progress in diversifying faculty. As the university closes in on the goal of 225 faculty members, the group includes more women and Saudi nationals than in years past, with eight female professors and one Saudi added to the group since the 2018/19 academic year. The new Ibn Rushd programs are set to further boost these figures. Diversification is central to KAUST’s strategic plan and was a major objective of President Tony Chan when he joined KAUST in September 2018. At the outset of that year KAUST’s faculty stood at 148, with 15 women and five Saudi nationals. The number of faculty members has grown to 183, including 23 women and six Saudis. The newest arrival is Assistant Professor of Material Science and Engineering Dana Al-Sulaiman, who joined KAUST after earning a PhD in bioengineering from Imperial College London and completing a post-doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Coming from world-leading institutions and fueled with a need to give back to my community and the world, my career path naturally led me to KAUST. The university’s

vision for innovation is undeniable,” she said. The university has already seen progress in other areas of gender diversity, highlighted by the fact that 36% of engineering graduates are female. This compares to about 20% in the US, 15% in the UK and 30% in India. To help KAUST’s overall goal of doubling the current representation for Saudis when the number of faculty reaches 225, the university introduced the Ibn Rushd Fellowship and Ibn Rushd Professorship. The Ibn Rushd Fellowship is for young Saudi scholars who have completed their PhD within two years, or are on track to do so, and plan to pursue academic careers. The fellowship provides an annual stipend for up to three years to assist these individuals in pursuing postdoctoral studies at globally recognized host institutions. An annual research fund is also available for collaboration on research with a KAUST faculty member. Additional benefits include access to KAUST facilities when visiting Saudi Arabia, access to leadership skills development programs and invitations to relevant KAUST workshops. The Ibn Rushd Professorship is open to Saudi faculty candidates considered rising stars in their fields. In addition to the privileges of faculty status, additional benefits include half the teaching load in the first three years and access to discretionary funding.

NEW FACULTY RECRUIT TO KAUST “As a university predicated on cutting-edge transformative research, I knew KAUST would offer me the environment and resources to push the limits of my field, and empower me to contribute to scientific advancement in the Kingdom.” Dana Al-Sulaiman, Assistant Professor of Material Science and Engineering

KAUST PhD student Asrar Damdam continues to accumulate international accolades and venture capital funding for her on-campus startup Asrar Damdam has been included in the prestigious Forbes Middle East 30 Under 30 list of innovators for 2021, in recognition of the potential of her sustainability technology startup Uvera. Her company aims to prolong the shelf life of fresh foods without using chemicals, and in doing so takes direct aim at the UN Sustainable Development Goal to end hunger. The UN estimates that about a third of all food produced – 1.3 billion tons worth $1 trillion annually – currently goes to waste. Damdam’s eureka moment came while studying under KAUST Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Xiaohang Li in 2018. Li was teaching a course on optimizing the efficiency of ultraviolet LED semiconductors, and while studying for the course Damdam found a paper on the bacteria- and pathogen-killing effect of UV light on food. She built a prototype device, and by June 2019 had founded Uvera. Uvera’s first product will be a device in which UV light shines on food to kill bacteria and pathogens. It will extend their shelf life by 97% on average within 30 seconds. The use of UV-C light for food treatment was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, and a patent is pending. Damdam has been fundraising in Silicon Valley to ensure commercial sustainability for her product. As of September 2021, the goal was to raise $3 million for manufacturing, which is to take place in Taiwan and China. Her first investment came from the US venture capitalist Tim Draper. The product is projected to be ready for commercialization by the end of 2022. Damdam is a PhD student in the KAUST Sensors Group, and she is no stranger to global recognition. She has been named among six winners of the 7th L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Middle East Regional Young Talents program. This recognition came for building a reconfigurable silicon-based electronic platform specifically designed for a heart-assistive device. It matches a heart’s shape and rhythmic expansions and contractions during the cardiac cycle. Students like

ASRAR DAMDAM Founder and CEO of Uvera, and KAUST PhD student

OUR COMPANY IS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW WE CAN RAISE THE THRESHOLD OF WOMEN’S ACHIEVEMENTS AND INSPIRE WOMEN IN THE STEM DISCIPLINES TO PERSEVERE, IN ADDITION TO REDUCING FOOD WASTE AND ELEVATING ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY.

DRAPER UNIVERSITY “Asrar is solving important problems through her company Uvera, which has large market potential to store food longer without refrigeration. This simple solution has the potential to feed many people that aren’t being reached through the existing supply chain.” Tim Draper, Venture Capitalist and Founder of Draper University

Damdam are an invaluable resource as the Kingdom works toward its Vision 2030 goals because they achieve progress in multiple areas of the national project. Damdam’s scholarship and startup combine to diversify the economy of Saudi Arabia, as well as make it an innovative society that is globally competitive across multiple disciplines.


27 TALENT

TALENT 28

DIVERSIFYING FACULTY TO EMPOWER SAUDI NATIONALS AND WOMEN

GAINING GLOBAL ATTENTION AND INNOVATING TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE KAUST is moving toward its strategic objective of a full faculty roster featuring more female and Saudi scholars

SUZANA NUNES Vice Provost

THE IBN RUSHD PROGRAM IS PIONEERING IN MANY WAYS. BEYOND ITS EXTENSIVE TRAINING AND GLOBAL OPPORTUNITIES, WE WANT TO INSPIRE A CULTURE OF INNOVATION WHEN IT COMES TO TALENT DEVELOPMENT. WE WANT PROSPECTIVE FACULTY TO SEE THE UNIQUE PATHWAYS THAT OPEN TO THEM WITH KAUST’S SUPPORT. KAUST continues to make progress in diversifying faculty. As the university closes in on the goal of 225 faculty members, the group includes more women and Saudi nationals than in years past, with eight female professors and one Saudi added to the group since the 2018/19 academic year. The new Ibn Rushd programs are set to further boost these figures. Diversification is central to KAUST’s strategic plan and was a major objective of President Tony Chan when he joined KAUST in September 2018. At the outset of that year KAUST’s faculty stood at 148, with 15 women and five Saudi nationals. The number of faculty members has grown to 183, including 23 women and six Saudis. The newest arrival is Assistant Professor of Material Science and Engineering Dana Al-Sulaiman, who joined KAUST after earning a PhD in bioengineering from Imperial College London and completing a post-doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Coming from world-leading institutions and fueled with a need to give back to my community and the world, my career path naturally led me to KAUST. The university’s

vision for innovation is undeniable,” she said. The university has already seen progress in other areas of gender diversity, highlighted by the fact that 36% of engineering graduates are female. This compares to about 20% in the US, 15% in the UK and 30% in India. To help KAUST’s overall goal of doubling the current representation for Saudis when the number of faculty reaches 225, the university introduced the Ibn Rushd Fellowship and Ibn Rushd Professorship. The Ibn Rushd Fellowship is for young Saudi scholars who have completed their PhD within two years, or are on track to do so, and plan to pursue academic careers. The fellowship provides an annual stipend for up to three years to assist these individuals in pursuing postdoctoral studies at globally recognized host institutions. An annual research fund is also available for collaboration on research with a KAUST faculty member. Additional benefits include access to KAUST facilities when visiting Saudi Arabia, access to leadership skills development programs and invitations to relevant KAUST workshops. The Ibn Rushd Professorship is open to Saudi faculty candidates considered rising stars in their fields. In addition to the privileges of faculty status, additional benefits include half the teaching load in the first three years and access to discretionary funding.

NEW FACULTY RECRUIT TO KAUST “As a university predicated on cutting-edge transformative research, I knew KAUST would offer me the environment and resources to push the limits of my field, and empower me to contribute to scientific advancement in the Kingdom.” Dana Al-Sulaiman, Assistant Professor of Material Science and Engineering

KAUST PhD student Asrar Damdam continues to accumulate international accolades and venture capital funding for her on-campus startup Asrar Damdam has been included in the prestigious Forbes Middle East 30 Under 30 list of innovators for 2021, in recognition of the potential of her sustainability technology startup Uvera. Her company aims to prolong the shelf life of fresh foods without using chemicals, and in doing so takes direct aim at the UN Sustainable Development Goal to end hunger. The UN estimates that about a third of all food produced – 1.3 billion tons worth $1 trillion annually – currently goes to waste. Damdam’s eureka moment came while studying under KAUST Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Xiaohang Li in 2018. Li was teaching a course on optimizing the efficiency of ultraviolet LED semiconductors, and while studying for the course Damdam found a paper on the bacteria- and pathogen-killing effect of UV light on food. She built a prototype device, and by June 2019 had founded Uvera. Uvera’s first product will be a device in which UV light shines on food to kill bacteria and pathogens. It will extend their shelf life by 97% on average within 30 seconds. The use of UV-C light for food treatment was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, and a patent is pending. Damdam has been fundraising in Silicon Valley to ensure commercial sustainability for her product. As of September 2021, the goal was to raise $3 million for manufacturing, which is to take place in Taiwan and China. Her first investment came from the US venture capitalist Tim Draper. The product is projected to be ready for commercialization by the end of 2022. Damdam is a PhD student in the KAUST Sensors Group, and she is no stranger to global recognition. She has been named among six winners of the 7th L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Middle East Regional Young Talents program. This recognition came for building a reconfigurable silicon-based electronic platform specifically designed for a heart-assistive device. It matches a heart’s shape and rhythmic expansions and contractions during the cardiac cycle. Students like

ASRAR DAMDAM Founder and CEO of Uvera, and KAUST PhD student

OUR COMPANY IS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW WE CAN RAISE THE THRESHOLD OF WOMEN’S ACHIEVEMENTS AND INSPIRE WOMEN IN THE STEM DISCIPLINES TO PERSEVERE, IN ADDITION TO REDUCING FOOD WASTE AND ELEVATING ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY.

DRAPER UNIVERSITY “Asrar is solving important problems through her company Uvera, which has large market potential to store food longer without refrigeration. This simple solution has the potential to feed many people that aren’t being reached through the existing supply chain.” Tim Draper, Venture Capitalist and Founder of Draper University

Damdam are an invaluable resource as the Kingdom works toward its Vision 2030 goals because they achieve progress in multiple areas of the national project. Damdam’s scholarship and startup combine to diversify the economy of Saudi Arabia, as well as make it an innovative society that is globally competitive across multiple disciplines.


29 TALENT

OUTREACH 30

DELIVERING TALENT TO NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

LEA SUBLETT Manager of Alumni Affairs

FOR SUCH A YOUNG UNIVERSITY, WE HAVE AN INCREDIBLE GLOBAL COMMUNITY

KAUST alumni have entered into positions of leadership, scholarship and innovation at leading Saudi and global institutions KAUST alumni have leveraged their academic accomplishments and backgrounds to secure leading roles in giga-projects that support Vision 2030, and at elite international institutions in Saudi Arabia, the UK and the US.

Dr. Noha Ahmed Al-Harthi Technology Lead for NEOM Saudi national and computer scientist AlHarthi had always dreamed of a career at the elite scientific research institutes in the US but realized that she could fulfill her dreams at home at KAUST. She was awarded her PhD in 2019, and as a student had closely followed the development of NEOM, a $500 billion mega-city of the future, since it was introduced in 2017. Now its director of new technology initiatives, she is helping to develop what promises to be the most advanced facility for robotics research and development, and collaborating with other world-class research institutions.

Dr. Royale Hardenstine Protected Species Science Manager at The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) Hardenstine, who earned a PhD from KAUST in 2020, monitors reefs and islands in the Red Sea, and is an expert on some of the marine world’s least studied creatures. At KAUST she studied the movement patterns of whale sharks, successfully connecting Red Sea populations to those in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Her role for TRSDC includes monitoring other large sea creatures and their surrounding environments. This supports the company’s efforts to develop Red Sea tourism offerings, while at the same time protecting the area’s marine resources and leveraging its natural beauty.

OF ALUMNI MAKING AN IMPACT IN SAUDI ARABIA AND AROUND THE WORLD THROUGH THEIR SCIENTIFIC, RESEARCH AND ENTREPRENEURIAL ENDEAVORS.

Dr. Shahad AlSairi Postdoctoral Research Fellow, MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research After earning her PhD at KAUST in bioscience, AlSaiari has continued her research into drug-delivery systems and genetically engineered proteins at the elite Boston-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was recognized in the Innovators Under 35 list in 2020. AlSaiari has developed a method to introduce antibacterial properties via a membrane that has the ability to detect the presence of the common E. coli bacteria.

Dr. Grant Hill-Cawthorne Director of Research at the UK House of Commons Hill-Cawthorne earned his PhD from KAUST in pathogen genomics in 2013, and has gone on to become the director of research for the UK Parliament’s elected representatives. In that role he serves as an advisor to legislators in matters of science and public health-related policies; the latter is particularly important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hill-Cawthorne came to KAUST after completing a bachelor’s degree in medical science and neuroscience at the University of Cambridge.

UK HOUSE OF COMMONS “Studying at KAUST allowed me to undertake cutting-edge research with excellent funding support. Studies I led at KAUST paved the way for me to establish a genomics lab in Sydney and have informed the kind of work I do today in public policy.” Dr. Grant Hill-Cawthorne, Director of Research at the UK House of Commons

HOSTING SCIENTIFIC LEADERS FROM ACROSS THE GLOBAL SOUTH

KAUST and the Islamic Development Bank host influential biannual gathering

KAUST hosted the biannual General Conference of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), held virtually over the first four days of November 2021. The event, organized in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), drew leaders in science from across the developing world to present research accomplishments and ideas taking shape in the global south, and to discuss how to provide the support needed to further this work. At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges for many countries, Saudi Arabia, as a G20 member, stood out as the natural choice to host the 15th TWAS General Conference due to the fact that KAUST is an emerging leader in global scientific scholarship. “My special thanks go to KAUST and the IsDB, whose generosity, continued commitment to science and friendship to TWAS allowed us to organize this first-ever virtual general conference,” said TWAS President Mohamed H. A. Hassan. Three of the four TWAS regional vice presidents came to KAUST to help host the conference and deepen collaboration with the university, and KAUST President Tony Chan took the opportunity in his welcoming remarks to invite ministers, academics and other high-level attendees to visit KAUST’s campus and tour its facilities once the pandemic subsides. The theme for the event was “Advancing frontier science, technology and innovation for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in developing countries.” TWAS was founded in 1983 by a group of scientists led by Abdus Salam, the Pakistani physicist and Nobel Laureate. The group’s aim is to help developing nations acquire the knowledge and skill to address challenges such as hunger, disease and poverty. The keynote address for this year’s virtual opening day, titled “Steps Toward Life: Chemistry!” was delivered by Nobel Laureate Jean-Marie Lehn of the Institute of Supramolecular Science and Engineering at the University of Strasbourg, located in France. The ministerial session focused on financing science, technology and innovation in order to help meet the SDGs. The event featured remarks from 12 ministers, directors and other high-level government leaders, including Assistant Minister of Communications and Information Technology and Acting President of KAUST Munir Eldesouki. The discussion shifted from policy and finance to the scientists themselves, with presentations from the co-winners of the 2020 TWAS-Lenovo Science Award, which included a $50,000 prize from Lenovo, the Chinese electronics maker. Brazilian agronomist Mariangela Hungria was a co-winner for her research on environmentally friendly fertilizers. Her research led to an alternative to nitrogen-based fertilizers that is more effective and less expensive. Hungria has pledged to donate her winnings to funds that support female scientists in Brazil. The other winner, Li Jiayang, was recognized for his research on the genetics of rice, which led to the planting of 28 new varieties for higher-quality grains and more yield.

TEOFILO ABRAJANO Chief of Staff for the Office of the President of KAUST

THIS IS A UNIQUELY IMPORTANT SCIENTIFIC FORUM FOR GLOBAL CONVERSATIONS. IT IS INCLUSIVE BY DESIGN, AND THE PERSPECTIVES FROM DEVELOPING COUNTRIES ARE CRITICAL AS THEY BRING OBSERVATIONS AND IDEAS THAT ARE GROUNDED IN REALITIES OFTEN MISSED IN THEIR ABSENCE. IT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO ADDRESS GLOBAL CHALLENGES UNLESS WE CAN FULLY APPRECIATE THE WHOLE.

TWAS “It is exciting to see the remarkable achievements of a 12-year-old university. KAUST has contributed significantly to the transformation of the scientific landscape in Saudi Arabia, and the university is a model for other Arab and developing countries.” Mohamed H. A. Hassan, President of TWAS


29 TALENT

OUTREACH 30

DELIVERING TALENT TO NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

LEA SUBLETT Manager of Alumni Affairs

FOR SUCH A YOUNG UNIVERSITY, WE HAVE AN INCREDIBLE GLOBAL COMMUNITY

KAUST alumni have entered into positions of leadership, scholarship and innovation at leading Saudi and global institutions KAUST alumni have leveraged their academic accomplishments and backgrounds to secure leading roles in giga-projects that support Vision 2030, and at elite international institutions in Saudi Arabia, the UK and the US.

Dr. Noha Ahmed Al-Harthi Technology Lead for NEOM Saudi national and computer scientist AlHarthi had always dreamed of a career at the elite scientific research institutes in the US but realized that she could fulfill her dreams at home at KAUST. She was awarded her PhD in 2019, and as a student had closely followed the development of NEOM, a $500 billion mega-city of the future, since it was introduced in 2017. Now its director of new technology initiatives, she is helping to develop what promises to be the most advanced facility for robotics research and development, and collaborating with other world-class research institutions.

Dr. Royale Hardenstine Protected Species Science Manager at The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) Hardenstine, who earned a PhD from KAUST in 2020, monitors reefs and islands in the Red Sea, and is an expert on some of the marine world’s least studied creatures. At KAUST she studied the movement patterns of whale sharks, successfully connecting Red Sea populations to those in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Her role for TRSDC includes monitoring other large sea creatures and their surrounding environments. This supports the company’s efforts to develop Red Sea tourism offerings, while at the same time protecting the area’s marine resources and leveraging its natural beauty.

OF ALUMNI MAKING AN IMPACT IN SAUDI ARABIA AND AROUND THE WORLD THROUGH THEIR SCIENTIFIC, RESEARCH AND ENTREPRENEURIAL ENDEAVORS.

Dr. Shahad AlSairi Postdoctoral Research Fellow, MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research After earning her PhD at KAUST in bioscience, AlSaiari has continued her research into drug-delivery systems and genetically engineered proteins at the elite Boston-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was recognized in the Innovators Under 35 list in 2020. AlSaiari has developed a method to introduce antibacterial properties via a membrane that has the ability to detect the presence of the common E. coli bacteria.

Dr. Grant Hill-Cawthorne Director of Research at the UK House of Commons Hill-Cawthorne earned his PhD from KAUST in pathogen genomics in 2013, and has gone on to become the director of research for the UK Parliament’s elected representatives. In that role he serves as an advisor to legislators in matters of science and public health-related policies; the latter is particularly important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hill-Cawthorne came to KAUST after completing a bachelor’s degree in medical science and neuroscience at the University of Cambridge.

UK HOUSE OF COMMONS “Studying at KAUST allowed me to undertake cutting-edge research with excellent funding support. Studies I led at KAUST paved the way for me to establish a genomics lab in Sydney and have informed the kind of work I do today in public policy.” Dr. Grant Hill-Cawthorne, Director of Research at the UK House of Commons

HOSTING SCIENTIFIC LEADERS FROM ACROSS THE GLOBAL SOUTH

KAUST and the Islamic Development Bank host influential biannual gathering

KAUST hosted the biannual General Conference of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), held virtually over the first four days of November 2021. The event, organized in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), drew leaders in science from across the developing world to present research accomplishments and ideas taking shape in the global south, and to discuss how to provide the support needed to further this work. At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges for many countries, Saudi Arabia, as a G20 member, stood out as the natural choice to host the 15th TWAS General Conference due to the fact that KAUST is an emerging leader in global scientific scholarship. “My special thanks go to KAUST and the IsDB, whose generosity, continued commitment to science and friendship to TWAS allowed us to organize this first-ever virtual general conference,” said TWAS President Mohamed H. A. Hassan. Three of the four TWAS regional vice presidents came to KAUST to help host the conference and deepen collaboration with the university, and KAUST President Tony Chan took the opportunity in his welcoming remarks to invite ministers, academics and other high-level attendees to visit KAUST’s campus and tour its facilities once the pandemic subsides. The theme for the event was “Advancing frontier science, technology and innovation for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in developing countries.” TWAS was founded in 1983 by a group of scientists led by Abdus Salam, the Pakistani physicist and Nobel Laureate. The group’s aim is to help developing nations acquire the knowledge and skill to address challenges such as hunger, disease and poverty. The keynote address for this year’s virtual opening day, titled “Steps Toward Life: Chemistry!” was delivered by Nobel Laureate Jean-Marie Lehn of the Institute of Supramolecular Science and Engineering at the University of Strasbourg, located in France. The ministerial session focused on financing science, technology and innovation in order to help meet the SDGs. The event featured remarks from 12 ministers, directors and other high-level government leaders, including Assistant Minister of Communications and Information Technology and Acting President of KAUST Munir Eldesouki. The discussion shifted from policy and finance to the scientists themselves, with presentations from the co-winners of the 2020 TWAS-Lenovo Science Award, which included a $50,000 prize from Lenovo, the Chinese electronics maker. Brazilian agronomist Mariangela Hungria was a co-winner for her research on environmentally friendly fertilizers. Her research led to an alternative to nitrogen-based fertilizers that is more effective and less expensive. Hungria has pledged to donate her winnings to funds that support female scientists in Brazil. The other winner, Li Jiayang, was recognized for his research on the genetics of rice, which led to the planting of 28 new varieties for higher-quality grains and more yield.

TEOFILO ABRAJANO Chief of Staff for the Office of the President of KAUST

THIS IS A UNIQUELY IMPORTANT SCIENTIFIC FORUM FOR GLOBAL CONVERSATIONS. IT IS INCLUSIVE BY DESIGN, AND THE PERSPECTIVES FROM DEVELOPING COUNTRIES ARE CRITICAL AS THEY BRING OBSERVATIONS AND IDEAS THAT ARE GROUNDED IN REALITIES OFTEN MISSED IN THEIR ABSENCE. IT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO ADDRESS GLOBAL CHALLENGES UNLESS WE CAN FULLY APPRECIATE THE WHOLE.

TWAS “It is exciting to see the remarkable achievements of a 12-year-old university. KAUST has contributed significantly to the transformation of the scientific landscape in Saudi Arabia, and the university is a model for other Arab and developing countries.” Mohamed H. A. Hassan, President of TWAS


31 OUTREACH

OUTREACH 32

SHAPING THE FUTURE OF MEDIA

PROVIDING A STAGE FOR GLOBAL EDUCATION SUMMITS KAUST will be the first university in the MENA region to host the World Academic Summit TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION “The World Academic Summit series has established itself as the preeminent global forum for senior leaders in education, research industry and policy-making. We look forward to working closely with KAUST at the 2025 World Academic Summit.” Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer of Times Higher Education

KAUST is partnering with international tertiary education portal Times Higher Education (THE) on a series of events, including the inaugural Global Sustainable Development Congress, which is set to be held at KAUST in 2023, as well as the World Academic Summit, an event that will be hosted on the university’s campus in 2025. THE provides news, analysis, data and insight into higher education around the world, and is considered one of the leading market players in its field. It publishes THE World University Rankings, one of the top university table rankings worldwide. THE also publishes a number of other rankings, such as the Emerging Economies University Ranking, Impact Ranking, World Reputation Ranking, Young University Ranking and Arab University Ranking. THE also organizes a series of summits, forums and symposiums each year to debate, discuss and drive forward the future of higher education governance, innovation and research. The new collaboration marks an important development for both KAUST and THE. The partnership will further consolidate KAUST’s reputation as a world-class research university and increase its profile in the international education community. For THE, it will help the body expand into Saudi Arabia, further diversifying its reach. As part of the partnership, KAUST will work with THE to develop content in line with strategic priorities that include smart and sustainable cities, artificial intelligence and the digital economy, health care and well-being, and climate action.

Most importantly, KAUST will play host to two major conferences. The first is the World Academic Summit, THE’s flagship event. It is a global forum that brings together preeminent thought leaders from a range of disciplines, including higher education, research, industry and government. The aim of the event is to share best practices and innovation related to the development and leadership of top universities and research. THE’s 2022 World Academic Summit will be hosted by New York University under the theme “Trajectories in Higher Education: Meeting Rising Expectations.” It will examine the role of higher education leaders and policymakers in identifying, adapting to and meeting rising expectations for progress in three areas: students, institutions and the wider higher education sector. Saudi Arabia will be the first country in the MENA region to host this flagship global summit in 2025. The Global Sustainable Development Congress is new in THE’s annual event calendar. In line with the global focus on climate change, resource efficiency and a range of other pressing environmental issues, sustainability is a priority for the future of education. As a leading sustainability-focused institution, KAUST is a natural choice for hosting the inaugural Global Sustainable Development Congress in 2023. The event will boost the university’s status as a forum for sustainability dialogue and development, and provide a state-of-the-art stage for an important new gathering in the series of THE events.

The 2021 KAUST Challenge crowdsourced innovative ideas from more than 600 proposals In October 2021, KAUST brought together companies and creative innovators from around the world to participate in the 2021 KAUST Challenge, an event that focused on shaping the future of media. It attracted more than 600 proposals from 37 countries, coming from innovative enterprises that aim to solve the most pressing challenges facing media systems. Saudi Arabia had a strong showing, taking seven of the 15 finalist slots. The overall winner was from the UK, while Saudi companies took second and third place. The KAUST Challenge was created to encourage local and international talent to crowdsource ideas and solutions, advancing the country’s national priorities and supporting Vision 2030. Following the success of the inaugural edition of the KAUST Challenge to crowdsource ideas for the Hajj and Umrah in 2020, the university launched a new challenge in 2021, titled “Shaping the Future of Media.” This second edition of the KAUST Challenge, held in partnership with the Asbar World Forum, aimed to identify innovative solutions to the Saudi media ecosystem’s most pressing needs. It sought to jumpstart the nascent culture and entertainment industry, as well as catalyze research, innovation, economic development and social prosperity. “We are glad to partner with KAUST on such an important and strategic initiative that aims to transform the Kingdom into a globally competitive ICT hub, with modern technologies and an empowered information society,” said Dr. Fahad Al-Orabi Al-Harthi, chairman of the Board of Directors for the Asbar World Forum. Proposals for the 2021 challenge were rooted in 13 key themes: content filtering, e-games, data privacy and security, ecosystem support, content

SAUDI PRESS ASSOCIATION TONY CHAN President of KAUST

“The KAUST Challenge is an important outlet for innovation and creative talent in support of Vision 2030. The 2021 challenge helps to encourage a new

WE ARE DELIGHTED THAT KAUST WILL BE

generation of creative media professionals who can

HOSTING TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION’S FLAGSHIP

make an impact on the development of

SUMMIT. BRINGING THE WORLD’S BRIGHTEST

the Kingdom’s media industry.”

THOUGHT LEADERS TO OUR CAMPUS IS NOT ONLY AN HONOR, BUT A CHANCE TO SHOWCASE OUR WORK.

Dr. Fahd bin Hassan Al-Aqran, President of the Saudi Press Association

DR. NAJAH ASHRY Vice President for Strategic National Advancement

KAUST CHALLENGE HAS PROVEN TO BE IMMENSELY SUCCESSFUL IN GENERATING FRESH AND INNOVATIVE IDEAS, COMPLEMENTING OUR EFFORT TO MAXIMIZE KAUST’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION OF THE KINGDOM AND ITS TRANSFORMATION TO A KNOWLEDGE-BASED ECONOMY.

protection, inclusiveness and accessibility, content creation, content distribution, insights and analytics, media localization, regulatory barriers, content noise and setting idealistic standards. The Acting Governor of Riyadh, HRH Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz, presided over the award ceremony. The overall winner of the event and recipient of the SAR300,000 prize was Factmata, a UK-based software company that uses artificial intelligence to identify harmful online content and topic clustering. The runner-up was Gharbel, a Saudi firm that developed a tool for spam detection and noise elimination to create a smooth social networking experience. In third place was Sahafa, also from the Kingdom, which developed technology to help journalists write and monetize content based on accurate information. Each received a SAR37,500 prize, and will benefit from expertise, mentorship and tailored support from leading global and local stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. In line with KAUST’s commitment to bolstering research and development, KAUST Challenge teamed up with a consortium of prestigious strategic partners and sponsors, including the Ministry of Investment, the Saudi Press Agency, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, STC and Riyad Bank.


31 OUTREACH

OUTREACH 32

SHAPING THE FUTURE OF MEDIA

PROVIDING A STAGE FOR GLOBAL EDUCATION SUMMITS KAUST will be the first university in the MENA region to host the World Academic Summit TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION “The World Academic Summit series has established itself as the preeminent global forum for senior leaders in education, research industry and policy-making. We look forward to working closely with KAUST at the 2025 World Academic Summit.” Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer of Times Higher Education

KAUST is partnering with international tertiary education portal Times Higher Education (THE) on a series of events, including the inaugural Global Sustainable Development Congress, which is set to be held at KAUST in 2023, as well as the World Academic Summit, an event that will be hosted on the university’s campus in 2025. THE provides news, analysis, data and insight into higher education around the world, and is considered one of the leading market players in its field. It publishes THE World University Rankings, one of the top university table rankings worldwide. THE also publishes a number of other rankings, such as the Emerging Economies University Ranking, Impact Ranking, World Reputation Ranking, Young University Ranking and Arab University Ranking. THE also organizes a series of summits, forums and symposiums each year to debate, discuss and drive forward the future of higher education governance, innovation and research. The new collaboration marks an important development for both KAUST and THE. The partnership will further consolidate KAUST’s reputation as a world-class research university and increase its profile in the international education community. For THE, it will help the body expand into Saudi Arabia, further diversifying its reach. As part of the partnership, KAUST will work with THE to develop content in line with strategic priorities that include smart and sustainable cities, artificial intelligence and the digital economy, health care and well-being, and climate action.

Most importantly, KAUST will play host to two major conferences. The first is the World Academic Summit, THE’s flagship event. It is a global forum that brings together preeminent thought leaders from a range of disciplines, including higher education, research, industry and government. The aim of the event is to share best practices and innovation related to the development and leadership of top universities and research. THE’s 2022 World Academic Summit will be hosted by New York University under the theme “Trajectories in Higher Education: Meeting Rising Expectations.” It will examine the role of higher education leaders and policymakers in identifying, adapting to and meeting rising expectations for progress in three areas: students, institutions and the wider higher education sector. Saudi Arabia will be the first country in the MENA region to host this flagship global summit in 2025. The Global Sustainable Development Congress is new in THE’s annual event calendar. In line with the global focus on climate change, resource efficiency and a range of other pressing environmental issues, sustainability is a priority for the future of education. As a leading sustainability-focused institution, KAUST is a natural choice for hosting the inaugural Global Sustainable Development Congress in 2023. The event will boost the university’s status as a forum for sustainability dialogue and development, and provide a state-of-the-art stage for an important new gathering in the series of THE events.

The 2021 KAUST Challenge crowdsourced innovative ideas from more than 600 proposals In October 2021, KAUST brought together companies and creative innovators from around the world to participate in the 2021 KAUST Challenge, an event that focused on shaping the future of media. It attracted more than 600 proposals from 37 countries, coming from innovative enterprises that aim to solve the most pressing challenges facing media systems. Saudi Arabia had a strong showing, taking seven of the 15 finalist slots. The overall winner was from the UK, while Saudi companies took second and third place. The KAUST Challenge was created to encourage local and international talent to crowdsource ideas and solutions, advancing the country’s national priorities and supporting Vision 2030. Following the success of the inaugural edition of the KAUST Challenge to crowdsource ideas for the Hajj and Umrah in 2020, the university launched a new challenge in 2021, titled “Shaping the Future of Media.” This second edition of the KAUST Challenge, held in partnership with the Asbar World Forum, aimed to identify innovative solutions to the Saudi media ecosystem’s most pressing needs. It sought to jumpstart the nascent culture and entertainment industry, as well as catalyze research, innovation, economic development and social prosperity. “We are glad to partner with KAUST on such an important and strategic initiative that aims to transform the Kingdom into a globally competitive ICT hub, with modern technologies and an empowered information society,” said Dr. Fahad Al-Orabi Al-Harthi, chairman of the Board of Directors for the Asbar World Forum. Proposals for the 2021 challenge were rooted in 13 key themes: content filtering, e-games, data privacy and security, ecosystem support, content

SAUDI PRESS ASSOCIATION TONY CHAN President of KAUST

“The KAUST Challenge is an important outlet for innovation and creative talent in support of Vision 2030. The 2021 challenge helps to encourage a new

WE ARE DELIGHTED THAT KAUST WILL BE

generation of creative media professionals who can

HOSTING TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION’S FLAGSHIP

make an impact on the development of

SUMMIT. BRINGING THE WORLD’S BRIGHTEST

the Kingdom’s media industry.”

THOUGHT LEADERS TO OUR CAMPUS IS NOT ONLY AN HONOR, BUT A CHANCE TO SHOWCASE OUR WORK.

Dr. Fahd bin Hassan Al-Aqran, President of the Saudi Press Association

DR. NAJAH ASHRY Vice President for Strategic National Advancement

KAUST CHALLENGE HAS PROVEN TO BE IMMENSELY SUCCESSFUL IN GENERATING FRESH AND INNOVATIVE IDEAS, COMPLEMENTING OUR EFFORT TO MAXIMIZE KAUST’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION OF THE KINGDOM AND ITS TRANSFORMATION TO A KNOWLEDGE-BASED ECONOMY.

protection, inclusiveness and accessibility, content creation, content distribution, insights and analytics, media localization, regulatory barriers, content noise and setting idealistic standards. The Acting Governor of Riyadh, HRH Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz, presided over the award ceremony. The overall winner of the event and recipient of the SAR300,000 prize was Factmata, a UK-based software company that uses artificial intelligence to identify harmful online content and topic clustering. The runner-up was Gharbel, a Saudi firm that developed a tool for spam detection and noise elimination to create a smooth social networking experience. In third place was Sahafa, also from the Kingdom, which developed technology to help journalists write and monetize content based on accurate information. Each received a SAR37,500 prize, and will benefit from expertise, mentorship and tailored support from leading global and local stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. In line with KAUST’s commitment to bolstering research and development, KAUST Challenge teamed up with a consortium of prestigious strategic partners and sponsors, including the Ministry of Investment, the Saudi Press Agency, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, STC and Riyad Bank.


33 OUTREACH

OUTREACH 34

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT FOR SAUDI PROFESSIONALS KAUST Saudi Leadership Program launches first edition of Emerging Leaders in the Legal Profession

KAUST partners with the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) to establish SME Innovation Services

In June 2021, KAUST welcomed more than 50 young men and women from 26 organizations representing government, industry, academia and the law to the newest iteration of the KAUST Saudi Leadership Program (KSLP): Emerging Leaders in the Legal Profession. The program took place online from June 27 to July 1. Emerging Leaders in the Legal Profession represents the ever-expanding portfolio of leadership development initiatives associated with KSLP. The new initiative underscores KAUST’s long-standing commitment to advancing the Kingdom’s development priorities and vision through ongoing investment in local talent, which will in turn create a national innovation and knowledge ecosystem. After extensive research into the skills and attributes needed for success in the legal profession in the Kingdom, KAUST – in collaboration with London Business School (LBS) – developed a customized curriculum specifically designed to accelerate and elevate the career development of Saudi Arabia’s young legal professionals. The challenging curriculum contained a rich and diverse blend of lectures based on industry best practices, inspiring personal stories and professional insights from KAUST executives through the KAUST Leadership Speakers series, as well as live simulations featuring professional actors. This year, participants heard from numerous KAUST academic and administrative leaders such as President Tony Chan, General Counsel and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Fletcher Fairey, Vice President for Strategic National Advancement Dr. Najah Ashry and KAUST Provost Larry

BUREAU OF EXPERTS AT THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS “Thanks to KAUST’s investment in local talent through initiatives like the KAUST Saudi Leadership Program, the Kingdom’s brightest young minds are taking the lead in contributing to a national ecosystem of innovation and knowledge.” Mohammed Esam Bin Saeed, Legal Advisor to the Bureau of Experts at the Council of Ministers and KSLP Participant

EMPOWERING SAUDI SMEs AND ENTREPRENEURS

DR. NAJAH ASHRY Vice President for Strategic National Advancement

A STRONG LEGAL INFRASTRUCTURE WILL SUPPORT SAUDI ARABIA’S MOST AMBITIOUS AIMS, FROM CREATING A BETTER ENTREPRENEURIAL ENVIRONMENT TO EMPOWERING PRIVATIZATION AND INVESTMENT, PROTECTING AND ATTRACTING HUMAN CAPITAL, AND MORE. SAUDI LEGAL PROFESSIONALS WILL BE A DRIVING FORCE BEHIND A NEW ERA OF GROWTH FOR THE KINGDOM. OUR SECTORS AND COMMUNITIES NEED LEADERSHIP TO PUSH THE NATIONAL VISION FORWARD. Carin. KSLP participants are often recognized as the next generation of leaders of their respective organizations. Once nominated, participants go through a competitive selection process. The resulting network of talented young professionals create a vibrant professional community with a strong connection to KAUST changemakers, thinkers and innovators, as well as fellow emerging leaders in the Kingdom. Graduates receive KAUST certificates, and often return to attend various enrichment programs and other events held by the university. KAUST’s Strategic National Advancement division launched KSLP in 2010. The portfolio of leadership development programs has significantly evolved since its inception to include a range of Saudi professionals from the early stages of their careers to managers, executives and academic leaders across all sectors and industries. “The KSLP initiative is highly stimulating, far-reaching and impactful. It is an immersive virtual experience that is designed to build leadership capacity and capability to help further an individual’s career. We aim to help build new understanding, new behaviors, new mindsets and new skills,” Linda Irwin, LBS Director of Business Development and Client Relations, said.

KAUST is working to bridge the gap between research and industry by supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Jeddah and across the Kingdom. Through research and innovation support, KAUST is enabling Saudi SMEs to grow and expand, and in doing so the university is helping to advance key national priorities. SMEs play an important role in Vision 2030, and Saudi Arabia has a goal to raise the contribution of SMEs to 35% of GDP by 2030. SMEs are an important source of wealth and job creation, and their expansion will help to diversify and strengthen the Kingdom’s landscape as it transitions to a new economic future. The university launched KAUST SME Innovation Services in November 2020, marking Saudi Arabia’s first university engagement program intended specifically to foster the growth of SMEs in the Kingdom. The service provides access to KAUST’s innovation ecosystem and, in doing so, helps SMEs increase their customer base and reach new markets. KAUST has been working collaboratively with a range of partners to identify the core needs of SMEs in recent years. In 2020, the university conducted a comprehensive survey of 500 SMEs throughout the Kingdom in partnership with the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, commonly known as Monsha’at; the Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam chambers of commerce; the Ministry of Investment; the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu; and the Council of Saudi Chambers. The survey found that a majority of SMEs requested support for training and expertise in innovation and entrepreneurship. KAUST SME Innovation Services was launched to bridge these gaps, and deliver workshops and training programs. Through the service, SMEs

MONSHA’AT “Innovation is growing rapidly and sustainably throughout Saudi Arabia. There is a desire for SMEs to adopt innovation in their products to enhance business growth, and a desire to cooperate with a pioneering university such as KAUST.” AbdulMajeed Al-Omran, Director of the Innovation Department at the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (Monsha’at)

KEVIN CULLEN Vice President for Innovation

SMES ARE THE ENGINE OF THE ECONOMY, AND CREATE CRUCIAL JOBS AND INCOME. AS A UNIVERSITY DRIVEN BY OUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MISSION, WE HAVE IDENTIFIED SME GROWTH AS A KEY AREA OF FOCUS, AND ARE KEEN TO WELCOME THESE COMPANIES INTO TO OUR WORLD-CLASS INNOVATION ECOSYSTEM.

can access state-of-the-art facilities, including KAUST’s Core Labs, as well as benefit from KAUST’s talent pool and know-how via research and scientific consultancy services. The aim is to facilitate knowledge transfer to help SMEs develop new products and services, and more easily access funding. In another sign of progress on this front, KAUST signed a memorandum of understanding with the JCCI in March 2021 to further investment and development efforts for local SMEs. KAUST will provide expertise, facility access and training to small businesses seeking support under the auspices of the program. KAUST, meanwhile, will receive a seat on JCCI’s industrial council, making it the first university to be represented in such a manner. Both parties hope the partnership will assist in accelerating Jeddah’s commercial, economic and social development.


33 OUTREACH

OUTREACH 34

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT FOR SAUDI PROFESSIONALS KAUST Saudi Leadership Program launches first edition of Emerging Leaders in the Legal Profession

KAUST partners with the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) to establish SME Innovation Services

In June 2021, KAUST welcomed more than 50 young men and women from 26 organizations representing government, industry, academia and the law to the newest iteration of the KAUST Saudi Leadership Program (KSLP): Emerging Leaders in the Legal Profession. The program took place online from June 27 to July 1. Emerging Leaders in the Legal Profession represents the ever-expanding portfolio of leadership development initiatives associated with KSLP. The new initiative underscores KAUST’s long-standing commitment to advancing the Kingdom’s development priorities and vision through ongoing investment in local talent, which will in turn create a national innovation and knowledge ecosystem. After extensive research into the skills and attributes needed for success in the legal profession in the Kingdom, KAUST – in collaboration with London Business School (LBS) – developed a customized curriculum specifically designed to accelerate and elevate the career development of Saudi Arabia’s young legal professionals. The challenging curriculum contained a rich and diverse blend of lectures based on industry best practices, inspiring personal stories and professional insights from KAUST executives through the KAUST Leadership Speakers series, as well as live simulations featuring professional actors. This year, participants heard from numerous KAUST academic and administrative leaders such as President Tony Chan, General Counsel and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Fletcher Fairey, Vice President for Strategic National Advancement Dr. Najah Ashry and KAUST Provost Larry

BUREAU OF EXPERTS AT THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS “Thanks to KAUST’s investment in local talent through initiatives like the KAUST Saudi Leadership Program, the Kingdom’s brightest young minds are taking the lead in contributing to a national ecosystem of innovation and knowledge.” Mohammed Esam Bin Saeed, Legal Advisor to the Bureau of Experts at the Council of Ministers and KSLP Participant

EMPOWERING SAUDI SMEs AND ENTREPRENEURS

DR. NAJAH ASHRY Vice President for Strategic National Advancement

A STRONG LEGAL INFRASTRUCTURE WILL SUPPORT SAUDI ARABIA’S MOST AMBITIOUS AIMS, FROM CREATING A BETTER ENTREPRENEURIAL ENVIRONMENT TO EMPOWERING PRIVATIZATION AND INVESTMENT, PROTECTING AND ATTRACTING HUMAN CAPITAL, AND MORE. SAUDI LEGAL PROFESSIONALS WILL BE A DRIVING FORCE BEHIND A NEW ERA OF GROWTH FOR THE KINGDOM. OUR SECTORS AND COMMUNITIES NEED LEADERSHIP TO PUSH THE NATIONAL VISION FORWARD. Carin. KSLP participants are often recognized as the next generation of leaders of their respective organizations. Once nominated, participants go through a competitive selection process. The resulting network of talented young professionals create a vibrant professional community with a strong connection to KAUST changemakers, thinkers and innovators, as well as fellow emerging leaders in the Kingdom. Graduates receive KAUST certificates, and often return to attend various enrichment programs and other events held by the university. KAUST’s Strategic National Advancement division launched KSLP in 2010. The portfolio of leadership development programs has significantly evolved since its inception to include a range of Saudi professionals from the early stages of their careers to managers, executives and academic leaders across all sectors and industries. “The KSLP initiative is highly stimulating, far-reaching and impactful. It is an immersive virtual experience that is designed to build leadership capacity and capability to help further an individual’s career. We aim to help build new understanding, new behaviors, new mindsets and new skills,” Linda Irwin, LBS Director of Business Development and Client Relations, said.

KAUST is working to bridge the gap between research and industry by supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Jeddah and across the Kingdom. Through research and innovation support, KAUST is enabling Saudi SMEs to grow and expand, and in doing so the university is helping to advance key national priorities. SMEs play an important role in Vision 2030, and Saudi Arabia has a goal to raise the contribution of SMEs to 35% of GDP by 2030. SMEs are an important source of wealth and job creation, and their expansion will help to diversify and strengthen the Kingdom’s landscape as it transitions to a new economic future. The university launched KAUST SME Innovation Services in November 2020, marking Saudi Arabia’s first university engagement program intended specifically to foster the growth of SMEs in the Kingdom. The service provides access to KAUST’s innovation ecosystem and, in doing so, helps SMEs increase their customer base and reach new markets. KAUST has been working collaboratively with a range of partners to identify the core needs of SMEs in recent years. In 2020, the university conducted a comprehensive survey of 500 SMEs throughout the Kingdom in partnership with the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, commonly known as Monsha’at; the Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam chambers of commerce; the Ministry of Investment; the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu; and the Council of Saudi Chambers. The survey found that a majority of SMEs requested support for training and expertise in innovation and entrepreneurship. KAUST SME Innovation Services was launched to bridge these gaps, and deliver workshops and training programs. Through the service, SMEs

MONSHA’AT “Innovation is growing rapidly and sustainably throughout Saudi Arabia. There is a desire for SMEs to adopt innovation in their products to enhance business growth, and a desire to cooperate with a pioneering university such as KAUST.” AbdulMajeed Al-Omran, Director of the Innovation Department at the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (Monsha’at)

KEVIN CULLEN Vice President for Innovation

SMES ARE THE ENGINE OF THE ECONOMY, AND CREATE CRUCIAL JOBS AND INCOME. AS A UNIVERSITY DRIVEN BY OUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MISSION, WE HAVE IDENTIFIED SME GROWTH AS A KEY AREA OF FOCUS, AND ARE KEEN TO WELCOME THESE COMPANIES INTO TO OUR WORLD-CLASS INNOVATION ECOSYSTEM.

can access state-of-the-art facilities, including KAUST’s Core Labs, as well as benefit from KAUST’s talent pool and know-how via research and scientific consultancy services. The aim is to facilitate knowledge transfer to help SMEs develop new products and services, and more easily access funding. In another sign of progress on this front, KAUST signed a memorandum of understanding with the JCCI in March 2021 to further investment and development efforts for local SMEs. KAUST will provide expertise, facility access and training to small businesses seeking support under the auspices of the program. KAUST, meanwhile, will receive a seat on JCCI’s industrial council, making it the first university to be represented in such a manner. Both parties hope the partnership will assist in accelerating Jeddah’s commercial, economic and social development.


35 SMART CITIES

SMART CITIES 36

Special Section: Smart Cities

SAP “The significant number of SAP solutions deployed at KAUST is enabling the university to leverage the benefits of digital transformation in its mission to educate the next generation of leaders in the Kingdom’s science and technology sectors.”

CISCO “Since 2008, Cisco Systems has been working in close partnership with KAUST to accelerate the smart campus agenda, setting a new standard for digital connectivity in education and beyond. Through this partnership we continue to push the boundaries of innovation. Cisco is proud to have created a secure intelligent foundation for KAUST’s connected campus.” Salman Abdulghani Faqeeh, Managing Director for Saudi Arabia at Cisco Systems

Ahmed Al-Faifi, Senior Vice President and Managing Director for SAP Middle East North


35 SMART CITIES

SMART CITIES 36

Special Section: Smart Cities

SAP “The significant number of SAP solutions deployed at KAUST is enabling the university to leverage the benefits of digital transformation in its mission to educate the next generation of leaders in the Kingdom’s science and technology sectors.”

CISCO “Since 2008, Cisco Systems has been working in close partnership with KAUST to accelerate the smart campus agenda, setting a new standard for digital connectivity in education and beyond. Through this partnership we continue to push the boundaries of innovation. Cisco is proud to have created a secure intelligent foundation for KAUST’s connected campus.” Salman Abdulghani Faqeeh, Managing Director for Saudi Arabia at Cisco Systems

Ahmed Al-Faifi, Senior Vice President and Managing Director for SAP Middle East North


37 SMART CITIES

SMART CITIES 38

common interests. Taken together, the university has all the necessary factors for what Roos calls a living laboratory: a place where innovators can experiment with the full support and collaboration of the surrounding community. This makes KAUST the ideal setting to introduce smart city concepts such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing to address challenges. This includes leveraging driverless vehicles to transport residents quickly and efficiently, using drones to deliver packages in order to keep trucks off the road, and equipping buildings with networked systems to ensure energy efficiency. These experiments could help to establish new technologies that will be adopted in urban areas around the world. The starting point for these experiments in modern life is to identify human needs. Roos’ team begins with researching what people want and need to live their lives, asking them directly and then considering what technologies can make that happen. The next step is experimentation, and one of the most visible examples is the fleet of electric shuttles now popular on campus. These remain prototypes that are not yet truly autonomous vehicles and, for now, have human monitors on board for safety. Testing is to continue for another two or three years, and will deliver valuable insights such as the best times to charge their batteries, their resistance to extreme weather, and how to improve AI and sensors in the vehicles.

CREATING A HUMAN-CENTRIC SMART CITY

Drones could be another valuable piece of the smart-city puzzle if the right infrastructure exists. KAUST Smart’s ability to collaborate within the institution, drawing on its on-campus scholars as needed, offers the opportunity to equip houses with rooftop hatches and interior chutes to receive drone packages, improving capacity for last-mile service. This is especially important when compared to how that might work in a typical city, where myriad stakeholders and commercial providers could complicate operations. A fully enabled drone delivery service also requires the creation of a digital replica of the city in order to control air traffic and avoid accidents. Other solutions for everyday challenges in urban life include cashless payment services, digital wallets and AI-enhanced restaurants. In another pilot program under way at KAUST, six restaurants are participating in a service in which diners can order in advance, check restaurants’ occupancy to determine if they are busy or if friends plan to dine there, and pay online. The next and crucial step in the cycle – after needs are identified and pilot programs established – will be to receive and analyze feedback from community members. KAUST Smart’s crowdsourcing concept will encourage residents to share their experiences in the smart city, as well as express their needs and priorities. This will allow the team to circle back to where it started: identifying the needs of residents and finding the right technologies to inspire the next round of innovations.

KAUST’s unique physical environment makes it the ideal living laboratory to innovate for liveability, sustainability and community MICROSOFT “We are proud of our partnership with KAUST. When KAUST Smart was first launched to push the boundaries of ideation and experimentation, we saw that the project aligned with our approach to innovation. Together with KAUST, we can make it possible to turn ideas into real solutions.” Turki Badhris, Vice President for the Public Sector in Saudi Arabia at Microsoft

Momentum is gathering at KAUST Smart, a program to turn the university campus into a smart city as well as a living laboratory. KAUST has provided its researchers with the tools they need to innovate digital and inclusive solutions to the modern-day problems associated with urban environments, using crowdsourcing and other cutting-edge tools to meet the needs of the university’s diverse and growing community. Formally known as Digital Experience and Innovation at KAUST, this team of futurists is colloquially known as KAUST Smart and is led by Jason Roos, the university’s chief information officer, and Mohamed Abdel-Aal, director of Digital Experience and Innovation. The university proved to be a particularly good fit for a project such as KAUST Smart because the campus features a small population of around 7,000, and is a community in which all the goods and services needed in an urban environment are readily available. The university also features research centers that are managed by Fortune 500 companies, including Dow Chemical Company, Aramco and SABIC. Moreover, the university is a self-contained environment overseen by KAUST itself, which makes it unique when compared to typical cities where multiple institutions act as stakeholders and do not always work together or have

JASON ROOS Chief Information Officer

WE AT KAUST ARE A SELF-CONTAINED COMMUNITY – A LIVING LABORATORY. THIS GIVES US THE UNIQUE ABILITY TO DEVELOP AND REDEFINE SMART CITIES AND OTHER DIGITAL EXPERIENCES.


37 SMART CITIES

SMART CITIES 38

common interests. Taken together, the university has all the necessary factors for what Roos calls a living laboratory: a place where innovators can experiment with the full support and collaboration of the surrounding community. This makes KAUST the ideal setting to introduce smart city concepts such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing to address challenges. This includes leveraging driverless vehicles to transport residents quickly and efficiently, using drones to deliver packages in order to keep trucks off the road, and equipping buildings with networked systems to ensure energy efficiency. These experiments could help to establish new technologies that will be adopted in urban areas around the world. The starting point for these experiments in modern life is to identify human needs. Roos’ team begins with researching what people want and need to live their lives, asking them directly and then considering what technologies can make that happen. The next step is experimentation, and one of the most visible examples is the fleet of electric shuttles now popular on campus. These remain prototypes that are not yet truly autonomous vehicles and, for now, have human monitors on board for safety. Testing is to continue for another two or three years, and will deliver valuable insights such as the best times to charge their batteries, their resistance to extreme weather, and how to improve AI and sensors in the vehicles.

CREATING A HUMAN-CENTRIC SMART CITY

Drones could be another valuable piece of the smart-city puzzle if the right infrastructure exists. KAUST Smart’s ability to collaborate within the institution, drawing on its on-campus scholars as needed, offers the opportunity to equip houses with rooftop hatches and interior chutes to receive drone packages, improving capacity for last-mile service. This is especially important when compared to how that might work in a typical city, where myriad stakeholders and commercial providers could complicate operations. A fully enabled drone delivery service also requires the creation of a digital replica of the city in order to control air traffic and avoid accidents. Other solutions for everyday challenges in urban life include cashless payment services, digital wallets and AI-enhanced restaurants. In another pilot program under way at KAUST, six restaurants are participating in a service in which diners can order in advance, check restaurants’ occupancy to determine if they are busy or if friends plan to dine there, and pay online. The next and crucial step in the cycle – after needs are identified and pilot programs established – will be to receive and analyze feedback from community members. KAUST Smart’s crowdsourcing concept will encourage residents to share their experiences in the smart city, as well as express their needs and priorities. This will allow the team to circle back to where it started: identifying the needs of residents and finding the right technologies to inspire the next round of innovations.

KAUST’s unique physical environment makes it the ideal living laboratory to innovate for liveability, sustainability and community MICROSOFT “We are proud of our partnership with KAUST. When KAUST Smart was first launched to push the boundaries of ideation and experimentation, we saw that the project aligned with our approach to innovation. Together with KAUST, we can make it possible to turn ideas into real solutions.” Turki Badhris, Vice President for the Public Sector in Saudi Arabia at Microsoft

Momentum is gathering at KAUST Smart, a program to turn the university campus into a smart city as well as a living laboratory. KAUST has provided its researchers with the tools they need to innovate digital and inclusive solutions to the modern-day problems associated with urban environments, using crowdsourcing and other cutting-edge tools to meet the needs of the university’s diverse and growing community. Formally known as Digital Experience and Innovation at KAUST, this team of futurists is colloquially known as KAUST Smart and is led by Jason Roos, the university’s chief information officer, and Mohamed Abdel-Aal, director of Digital Experience and Innovation. The university proved to be a particularly good fit for a project such as KAUST Smart because the campus features a small population of around 7,000, and is a community in which all the goods and services needed in an urban environment are readily available. The university also features research centers that are managed by Fortune 500 companies, including Dow Chemical Company, Aramco and SABIC. Moreover, the university is a self-contained environment overseen by KAUST itself, which makes it unique when compared to typical cities where multiple institutions act as stakeholders and do not always work together or have

JASON ROOS Chief Information Officer

WE AT KAUST ARE A SELF-CONTAINED COMMUNITY – A LIVING LABORATORY. THIS GIVES US THE UNIQUE ABILITY TO DEVELOP AND REDEFINE SMART CITIES AND OTHER DIGITAL EXPERIENCES.


39 SMART CITIES

SMART CITIES 40

NATIONAL DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION UNIT “We are happy to partner with one of the most advanced research universities in the Kingdom. In an age where Saudi Arabia is more than willing to embrace new technologies, we are excited to pursue these goals together. In doing so, we will help the country become an advanced digital society.”

ACCELERATING THE KINGDOM’S DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION KAUST Smart and the National Digital Transformation Unit expand their partnership on next-generation digital technologies KAUST Smart formalized its relationship with a major collaborator when it announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Kingdom’s National Digital Transformation Unit (NDU) in August 2021. The two institutions already work together on innovations that seek to fulfill Vision 2030’s overarching goals, and moving forward they will conduct joint research projects, as well as share expertise in transformational next-generation digital technologies such as drones, smart cities, robotics and 5G networks. Digital transformation is a key pillar of Vision 2030, and the NDU was established in 2017 to collaborate with partners to accelerate and enable this change. Examples thus far of Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation include it ranking third of all countries in the Middle East, Europe and Africa in terms of 5G network deployment in 2020, and the creation of a digital documentation system that processes customs clearance procedures within 24 hours. KAUST Smart’s partnership with the NDU is unique because the campus is the only site outside of Riyadh where the NDU is collaborating on proof-of-concept projects. KAUST’s role as a living laboratory makes it ideal for this kind of innovation. The recently completed MoU, signed by KAUST Chief Information Officer Jason Roos and then-CEO of the NDU Mohammed Alshaalan, solidifies the partners’

recent progress through three parallel initiatives: proof-of-concept research in the autonomous last-mile delivery of goods, proof-of-concept research in autonomous drone delivery, and the planning and execution of the first joint online webinar on autonomous vehicles. The MoU outlines the NDU’s responsibilities, which include preparing and developing projects that are related to digital education, smart cities and emerging technologies; offering advisory services on these specific technologies; and developing smart city strategies in collaboration with other stakeholders. KAUST’s role will be managing knowledge transfer on emerging technologies to both the public and private sector, and supporting proof-of-concept projects by providing technical experts and suitable laboratory facilities on campus. This cooperation will build on work already in progress to develop autonomous delivery services. For one project, researchers from both parties are working to support package delivery using autonomous vehicles. In another, drones are used to deliver food. KAUST Smart and the NDU are working with six additional stakeholders from the private sector. For autonomous delivery, the three key partners working with KAUST Smart and the NDU are Alshrouq Express, Teksbotics and UISEE. Alshrouq is a delivery service in the Kingdom that served more than 20 million customers as of 2019 through services including last-mile delivery, warehousing, first- and middle-mile transportation, and driver outsourcing. Teksbotics, based in Hong Kong, focuses on robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). It currently offers driverless mobility technologies in Hong Kong, Macau and across the Asia-Pacific region for goods as well as passengers. Examples include autonomous electric tractors used to transport goods in airports, warehouses and factories, and autonomous shuttles. UISEE is based in Beijing and focused on AI-driven vehicles. Current UISEE technologies support Level-3 and Level-4 driving automation. Level 3, or conditional automation, features the automation of most driving tasks,

Ali N. Alasiri, CEO of the National Digital Transformation Unit

For KAUST Smart and NDU’s drone food delivery project, partners include FlytBase, Eva and FalconViz, a KAUST-based startup. FlytBase – which graduated from the Launch Pad Accelerator Program of Cisco Systems, another long-term KAUST partner – developed the first internet-ofdrones platform. It provides software that allows for the automation and scale-up of drone operations, including fleet deployment and connection with cloud-based business applications. Eva provides drone-system infrastructure, such as stations that can boost productivity and autonomy, as well as cuts costs through the provision of support systems for drone operators. Applications go beyond commerce and include health care and disaster relief, two areas where drones hold promise as a reliable substitute for helicopters. but a human operator is still required to intervene as needed. Level 4 incorporates geofencing – a technology that limits the driving range to a specified area – and human overriding capacity is optional. Level-4 automation is one step below full automation.

FalconViz, commercialized within KAUST’s ecosystem and headquartered on campus, uses drones for surveying and mapping; inspection and monitoring of construction sites and industrial settings, among others; airborne security; and providing images, videos and 3D visualizations.

SULAIMAN AL THUNAYAN Vice President for Government Affairs

WE ARE DELIGHTED TO BE WORKING WITH PARTNERS SUCH AS NDU TO TEST, PILOT AND DEPLOY TECHNOLOGIES IN A REAL-WORLD OPERATIONAL SETTING ON THE KAUST CAMPUS THAT TAKES ADVANTAGE OF OUR UNIQUE CITY ENVIRONMENT.


39 SMART CITIES

SMART CITIES 40

NATIONAL DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION UNIT “We are happy to partner with one of the most advanced research universities in the Kingdom. In an age where Saudi Arabia is more than willing to embrace new technologies, we are excited to pursue these goals together. In doing so, we will help the country become an advanced digital society.”

ACCELERATING THE KINGDOM’S DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION KAUST Smart and the National Digital Transformation Unit expand their partnership on next-generation digital technologies KAUST Smart formalized its relationship with a major collaborator when it announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Kingdom’s National Digital Transformation Unit (NDU) in August 2021. The two institutions already work together on innovations that seek to fulfill Vision 2030’s overarching goals, and moving forward they will conduct joint research projects, as well as share expertise in transformational next-generation digital technologies such as drones, smart cities, robotics and 5G networks. Digital transformation is a key pillar of Vision 2030, and the NDU was established in 2017 to collaborate with partners to accelerate and enable this change. Examples thus far of Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation include it ranking third of all countries in the Middle East, Europe and Africa in terms of 5G network deployment in 2020, and the creation of a digital documentation system that processes customs clearance procedures within 24 hours. KAUST Smart’s partnership with the NDU is unique because the campus is the only site outside of Riyadh where the NDU is collaborating on proof-of-concept projects. KAUST’s role as a living laboratory makes it ideal for this kind of innovation. The recently completed MoU, signed by KAUST Chief Information Officer Jason Roos and then-CEO of the NDU Mohammed Alshaalan, solidifies the partners’

recent progress through three parallel initiatives: proof-of-concept research in the autonomous last-mile delivery of goods, proof-of-concept research in autonomous drone delivery, and the planning and execution of the first joint online webinar on autonomous vehicles. The MoU outlines the NDU’s responsibilities, which include preparing and developing projects that are related to digital education, smart cities and emerging technologies; offering advisory services on these specific technologies; and developing smart city strategies in collaboration with other stakeholders. KAUST’s role will be managing knowledge transfer on emerging technologies to both the public and private sector, and supporting proof-of-concept projects by providing technical experts and suitable laboratory facilities on campus. This cooperation will build on work already in progress to develop autonomous delivery services. For one project, researchers from both parties are working to support package delivery using autonomous vehicles. In another, drones are used to deliver food. KAUST Smart and the NDU are working with six additional stakeholders from the private sector. For autonomous delivery, the three key partners working with KAUST Smart and the NDU are Alshrouq Express, Teksbotics and UISEE. Alshrouq is a delivery service in the Kingdom that served more than 20 million customers as of 2019 through services including last-mile delivery, warehousing, first- and middle-mile transportation, and driver outsourcing. Teksbotics, based in Hong Kong, focuses on robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). It currently offers driverless mobility technologies in Hong Kong, Macau and across the Asia-Pacific region for goods as well as passengers. Examples include autonomous electric tractors used to transport goods in airports, warehouses and factories, and autonomous shuttles. UISEE is based in Beijing and focused on AI-driven vehicles. Current UISEE technologies support Level-3 and Level-4 driving automation. Level 3, or conditional automation, features the automation of most driving tasks,

Ali N. Alasiri, CEO of the National Digital Transformation Unit

For KAUST Smart and NDU’s drone food delivery project, partners include FlytBase, Eva and FalconViz, a KAUST-based startup. FlytBase – which graduated from the Launch Pad Accelerator Program of Cisco Systems, another long-term KAUST partner – developed the first internet-ofdrones platform. It provides software that allows for the automation and scale-up of drone operations, including fleet deployment and connection with cloud-based business applications. Eva provides drone-system infrastructure, such as stations that can boost productivity and autonomy, as well as cuts costs through the provision of support systems for drone operators. Applications go beyond commerce and include health care and disaster relief, two areas where drones hold promise as a reliable substitute for helicopters. but a human operator is still required to intervene as needed. Level 4 incorporates geofencing – a technology that limits the driving range to a specified area – and human overriding capacity is optional. Level-4 automation is one step below full automation.

FalconViz, commercialized within KAUST’s ecosystem and headquartered on campus, uses drones for surveying and mapping; inspection and monitoring of construction sites and industrial settings, among others; airborne security; and providing images, videos and 3D visualizations.

SULAIMAN AL THUNAYAN Vice President for Government Affairs

WE ARE DELIGHTED TO BE WORKING WITH PARTNERS SUCH AS NDU TO TEST, PILOT AND DEPLOY TECHNOLOGIES IN A REAL-WORLD OPERATIONAL SETTING ON THE KAUST CAMPUS THAT TAKES ADVANTAGE OF OUR UNIQUE CITY ENVIRONMENT.


41 SMART CITIES

SMART CITIES 42

LEVERAGING KAUST AS A LIVING LABORATORY FOR SMART CITY EXPERIMENTS KAUST is working on smart cities with leading international companies such as Intel, Cisco Systems and Microsoft With innovations and technical studies ranging from autonomous vehicles to on-campus dining, KAUST Smart has developed a range of partnerships with leading international companies that explore new possibilities and solve intractable problems in everyday urban life. By viewing the university’s campus as a living laboratory, KAUST Smart and its commercial partners are poised to deliver on the promise of these emerging technologies over the course of the coming years. One of the most visible collaborations is a shiny red Audi sedan in which KAUST Smart has installed an autonomous-driving platform with Intel, the semiconductor giant, and Egyptian tech firm Brightskies. With semi-autonomous shuttles already in operation, the roads on campus are more ideal than most for experimentation because they offer an environment to test new artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms in a controlled manner. The car features Intel’s chips, Brightskies’ software, and insight and expertise from KAUST Smart researchers and faculty.

INTEL “Intel is very excited to collaborate with KAUST and Brightskies in the field of AI and autonomous driving, especially as it aligns with Vision 2030. Through this partnership, we will give local researchers a customizable platform for their algorithms and prepare them to play a role in the global automotive industry.”

MOHAMED ABDEL-AAL Director of Digital Experience and Innovation

KAUST PRESENTS A UNIQUE CAMPUS WITH UNIQUE OPPORTUNITIES. THROUGH AN EXPERIENCE-FOCUSED DESIGN METHODOLOGY, KAUST SMART IS ABLE TO DELIVER RAPID EXPERIMENTATIONS THAT ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY,

One of the longest-running KAUST Smart partnerships is with Cisco Systems, which has been a vendor to and partner of the university since KAUST was established in 2008. KAUST Smart considers the company’s technologies as key to the establishment of a smart city and connected campus. They help in the monitoring and cognitive analysis of data collected on how the KAUST community lives and works, which facilitates the community engagement that KAUST leaders consider crucial to ensuring that smart city innovations are human-centric. One such example is wayfinding – the process of guiding people through their environment in a way that goes beyond merely providing directions from one point to another, to instead helping them understand the amenities, sites and other highlights along their planned route.

INDUSTRY AND GOVERNMENT.

Cisco’s technologies also allow for crowdsourcing to influence innovation processes and for people to be involved in design thinking. This problem-solving method begins with understanding the unmet needs of individuals, and then proceeds to the development of concepts and prototypes for experimentation. According to the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, businesses that deploy design thinking see substantial improvements in their performance, highlighting the tool’s potential.

Ahmad Ali Alabduljabbar, Saudi Arabia General Manager at Intel

Microsoft and SAP are two other commercial partners that trace their history at KAUST back to its founding. Microsoft invited on-campus leaders to the Microsoft Executive Briefing Center at the company’s US headquarters in Redmond, Washington shortly after it was established. Discussions on this trip led to ongoing collaboration and design-thinking sessions that positioned KAUST and its campus as a living laboratory for smart city experiences. The partnership is currently focused on optimizing the university’s use of Microsoft products, and building on that foundation to create new and innovative experiences. For SAP, the provider of the end-to-end software that manages university systems, partnerships with KAUST Smart scholars have included improving the smartphone apps that rely on campus data, as well as reimagining existing processes such as the on-campus dining experience. In the latter, significant opportunities exist to automate processes to make them more streamlined and social, including enhanced online ordering capabilities and software to help connect people by alerting them to where friends might be planning to have a meal. Another of KAUST Smart’s key domestic commercial partners is Averos, a company that develops new wayfinding technologies. It is also a partner to Saudi public and private leaders such as Aramco, Riyadh Airports and the Ministry of Interior. KAUST Smart uses Averos technologies to test new experiences on campus, as well as how visitors navigate during their trips. “As a local Saudi-based technology startup, Averos is grateful for the strong support and partnership that KAUST has shown for our state-of-the-art indoor navigation and positioning solution,” Yusuf Sabadia, CEO of Averos, said. “KAUST has been proactive and engaged with us to further improve our system in creating a more user-friendly and experience-rich end product.”


41 SMART CITIES

SMART CITIES 42

LEVERAGING KAUST AS A LIVING LABORATORY FOR SMART CITY EXPERIMENTS KAUST is working on smart cities with leading international companies such as Intel, Cisco Systems and Microsoft With innovations and technical studies ranging from autonomous vehicles to on-campus dining, KAUST Smart has developed a range of partnerships with leading international companies that explore new possibilities and solve intractable problems in everyday urban life. By viewing the university’s campus as a living laboratory, KAUST Smart and its commercial partners are poised to deliver on the promise of these emerging technologies over the course of the coming years. One of the most visible collaborations is a shiny red Audi sedan in which KAUST Smart has installed an autonomous-driving platform with Intel, the semiconductor giant, and Egyptian tech firm Brightskies. With semi-autonomous shuttles already in operation, the roads on campus are more ideal than most for experimentation because they offer an environment to test new artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms in a controlled manner. The car features Intel’s chips, Brightskies’ software, and insight and expertise from KAUST Smart researchers and faculty.

INTEL “Intel is very excited to collaborate with KAUST and Brightskies in the field of AI and autonomous driving, especially as it aligns with Vision 2030. Through this partnership, we will give local researchers a customizable platform for their algorithms and prepare them to play a role in the global automotive industry.”

MOHAMED ABDEL-AAL Director of Digital Experience and Innovation

KAUST PRESENTS A UNIQUE CAMPUS WITH UNIQUE OPPORTUNITIES. THROUGH AN EXPERIENCE-FOCUSED DESIGN METHODOLOGY, KAUST SMART IS ABLE TO DELIVER RAPID EXPERIMENTATIONS THAT ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY,

One of the longest-running KAUST Smart partnerships is with Cisco Systems, which has been a vendor to and partner of the university since KAUST was established in 2008. KAUST Smart considers the company’s technologies as key to the establishment of a smart city and connected campus. They help in the monitoring and cognitive analysis of data collected on how the KAUST community lives and works, which facilitates the community engagement that KAUST leaders consider crucial to ensuring that smart city innovations are human-centric. One such example is wayfinding – the process of guiding people through their environment in a way that goes beyond merely providing directions from one point to another, to instead helping them understand the amenities, sites and other highlights along their planned route.

INDUSTRY AND GOVERNMENT.

Cisco’s technologies also allow for crowdsourcing to influence innovation processes and for people to be involved in design thinking. This problem-solving method begins with understanding the unmet needs of individuals, and then proceeds to the development of concepts and prototypes for experimentation. According to the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, businesses that deploy design thinking see substantial improvements in their performance, highlighting the tool’s potential.

Ahmad Ali Alabduljabbar, Saudi Arabia General Manager at Intel

Microsoft and SAP are two other commercial partners that trace their history at KAUST back to its founding. Microsoft invited on-campus leaders to the Microsoft Executive Briefing Center at the company’s US headquarters in Redmond, Washington shortly after it was established. Discussions on this trip led to ongoing collaboration and design-thinking sessions that positioned KAUST and its campus as a living laboratory for smart city experiences. The partnership is currently focused on optimizing the university’s use of Microsoft products, and building on that foundation to create new and innovative experiences. For SAP, the provider of the end-to-end software that manages university systems, partnerships with KAUST Smart scholars have included improving the smartphone apps that rely on campus data, as well as reimagining existing processes such as the on-campus dining experience. In the latter, significant opportunities exist to automate processes to make them more streamlined and social, including enhanced online ordering capabilities and software to help connect people by alerting them to where friends might be planning to have a meal. Another of KAUST Smart’s key domestic commercial partners is Averos, a company that develops new wayfinding technologies. It is also a partner to Saudi public and private leaders such as Aramco, Riyadh Airports and the Ministry of Interior. KAUST Smart uses Averos technologies to test new experiences on campus, as well as how visitors navigate during their trips. “As a local Saudi-based technology startup, Averos is grateful for the strong support and partnership that KAUST has shown for our state-of-the-art indoor navigation and positioning solution,” Yusuf Sabadia, CEO of Averos, said. “KAUST has been proactive and engaged with us to further improve our system in creating a more user-friendly and experience-rich end product.”


43 SMART CITIES

SMART CITIES 44

BETTER LIVING FOR TODAY, TOMORROW AND THE FUTURE KAUST’s pilot smart house project is an energy-efficient space ready for residents

SAUDI ARABIAN BAYTUR “We are honored to partner with KAUST, one of the leading institutions in Saudi Arabia that provides training in technology and research. It

Although many of the residential villas on KAUST’s campus have a similar look, one in particular stands out: a smart home that KAUST Smart is building in collaboration with the wider community. What might at first appear to be a typical villa is actually a vision for the future – a pilot project that will soon have residents living inside and ready to test the experience on offer. The process will help continue the cycle of innovation created by KAUST Smart to turn the campus into a smart city. Smart homes are residences that are networked with technologies that boost efficiency, deliver comfort, and enable iterative improvements and experimentation. They are a crucial element of smart cities, which use data and technology to improve urban lifestyles. “The project has given us the opportunity to evaluate and test a broad range of smart and innovative systems, and show the world a near net-zero home of the future,” said Vice President for Facilities Management Matthew Early. “Our smart home is a living laboratory that will continue to evolve as technology advances. We will provide Saudi Arabia and the world with technologies viable for large-scale implementation in future home designs.” KAUST’s version sees innovators collaborate with users in a three-step cycle. The process starts with identifying human needs, the second step

has allowed us to concentrate on environmental concerns and be a participant in innovative social projects within the framework of Vision 2030.” Murat Giray, CEO of Saudi Arabian Baytur

is assembling appropriate technologies to create pilot programs, and the third step is to analyze the results, including feedback from participants and information gathered along the way. This cycle then repeats itself, creating improved versions of earlier prototypes. KAUST’s smart home is about to enter the second step: residents will be selected to move into the house in late 2021 and will share their experiences with the team. The first step in the process was complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which made collaborating with stakeholders more difficult due to social distancing and other health measures. KAUST contracted with Treehouse Innovation, a UK-based innovation consultancy, to conduct this process. Rather than visiting the campus, Treehouse pivoted to a virtual platform

that brought together 100 KAUST residents to share their thoughts on how to make a smart home a human-centric experience. Participants were also asked which technologies to use with the intent to improve comfort and livability. This collaborative process resulted in six priorities for the KAUST community: the efficient management of resources, a connection to nature, adaptation to needs that change over time, an inclusive environment, customization of services and community values. When it was time for the experts at Treehouse and KAUST Smart to translate these priorities into a pilot smart house, the team consulted with innovators at eight KAUST-based startups to find the most appropriate technologies. Together, the participants created a dwelling that would meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The facility has retractable walls in the main living area, sound systems and control panels for each room, and a range of other features. It also leverages technology to address two main areas of concern: water and energy use. To optimize water consumption the house utilises Hydraloop, a system that recycles water for uses where non-potable water is appropriate, such as toilets. It also has hydropanels that harvest moisture from humidity to produce up to 10 liters of water that is safe for consumption per day. To help reduce the facility’s energy consumption, the pilot smart house leverages natural light and features retractable and translucent solar panels, a solar heater and energy-efficient appliances. Shades and screens that block unwanted external heat will be automatically activated using specialized sensors. Meanwhile, all of the smart house windows feature a coating that is spectrally selective, allowing natural light into the villa while blocking rays that bring excess heat and make interiors less comfortable for residents.

MATTHEW EARLY Vice President for Facilities Management

AS A SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY UNIVERSITY, KAUST HAS THE EXPERTISE OF TOP-TIER FACULTY AND RESEARCHERS. AS A RESULT OF THEIR COLLABORATIONS AND PARTNERSHIPS, WE HAVE IMPLEMENTED EIGHT TECHNOLOGIES FROM KAUST STARTUP COMPANIES AND ARE USING THE SMART HOME AS A TEST FACILITY FOR DIFFERENT SYSTEMS IN DEVELOPMENT.


43 SMART CITIES

SMART CITIES 44

BETTER LIVING FOR TODAY, TOMORROW AND THE FUTURE KAUST’s pilot smart house project is an energy-efficient space ready for residents

SAUDI ARABIAN BAYTUR “We are honored to partner with KAUST, one of the leading institutions in Saudi Arabia that provides training in technology and research. It

Although many of the residential villas on KAUST’s campus have a similar look, one in particular stands out: a smart home that KAUST Smart is building in collaboration with the wider community. What might at first appear to be a typical villa is actually a vision for the future – a pilot project that will soon have residents living inside and ready to test the experience on offer. The process will help continue the cycle of innovation created by KAUST Smart to turn the campus into a smart city. Smart homes are residences that are networked with technologies that boost efficiency, deliver comfort, and enable iterative improvements and experimentation. They are a crucial element of smart cities, which use data and technology to improve urban lifestyles. “The project has given us the opportunity to evaluate and test a broad range of smart and innovative systems, and show the world a near net-zero home of the future,” said Vice President for Facilities Management Matthew Early. “Our smart home is a living laboratory that will continue to evolve as technology advances. We will provide Saudi Arabia and the world with technologies viable for large-scale implementation in future home designs.” KAUST’s version sees innovators collaborate with users in a three-step cycle. The process starts with identifying human needs, the second step

has allowed us to concentrate on environmental concerns and be a participant in innovative social projects within the framework of Vision 2030.” Murat Giray, CEO of Saudi Arabian Baytur

is assembling appropriate technologies to create pilot programs, and the third step is to analyze the results, including feedback from participants and information gathered along the way. This cycle then repeats itself, creating improved versions of earlier prototypes. KAUST’s smart home is about to enter the second step: residents will be selected to move into the house in late 2021 and will share their experiences with the team. The first step in the process was complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which made collaborating with stakeholders more difficult due to social distancing and other health measures. KAUST contracted with Treehouse Innovation, a UK-based innovation consultancy, to conduct this process. Rather than visiting the campus, Treehouse pivoted to a virtual platform

that brought together 100 KAUST residents to share their thoughts on how to make a smart home a human-centric experience. Participants were also asked which technologies to use with the intent to improve comfort and livability. This collaborative process resulted in six priorities for the KAUST community: the efficient management of resources, a connection to nature, adaptation to needs that change over time, an inclusive environment, customization of services and community values. When it was time for the experts at Treehouse and KAUST Smart to translate these priorities into a pilot smart house, the team consulted with innovators at eight KAUST-based startups to find the most appropriate technologies. Together, the participants created a dwelling that would meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The facility has retractable walls in the main living area, sound systems and control panels for each room, and a range of other features. It also leverages technology to address two main areas of concern: water and energy use. To optimize water consumption the house utilises Hydraloop, a system that recycles water for uses where non-potable water is appropriate, such as toilets. It also has hydropanels that harvest moisture from humidity to produce up to 10 liters of water that is safe for consumption per day. To help reduce the facility’s energy consumption, the pilot smart house leverages natural light and features retractable and translucent solar panels, a solar heater and energy-efficient appliances. Shades and screens that block unwanted external heat will be automatically activated using specialized sensors. Meanwhile, all of the smart house windows feature a coating that is spectrally selective, allowing natural light into the villa while blocking rays that bring excess heat and make interiors less comfortable for residents.

MATTHEW EARLY Vice President for Facilities Management

AS A SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY UNIVERSITY, KAUST HAS THE EXPERTISE OF TOP-TIER FACULTY AND RESEARCHERS. AS A RESULT OF THEIR COLLABORATIONS AND PARTNERSHIPS, WE HAVE IMPLEMENTED EIGHT TECHNOLOGIES FROM KAUST STARTUP COMPANIES AND ARE USING THE SMART HOME AS A TEST FACILITY FOR DIFFERENT SYSTEMS IN DEVELOPMENT.


45 CREDITS

Credits EDITOR-IN-CHIEF David Keyes Senior Associate to the President for Strategic Partnerships and Global Branding EDITORIAL BOARD Najah Ashry Senior Associate to the President and Vice President for Strategic National Advancement Donal Bradley Vice President for Research Lawrence Carin Provost Kevin Cullen Vice President for Innovation MANAGING EDITORS Julie West Science Communications Specialist Michelle Ponto Interim Director for Global Branding and Communications Salah Sindi Senior In-Kingdom Media Advisor

Produced in collaboration with Oxford Business Group

Readers are welcome to provide feedback on KAUST Impact at kaustimpact@kaust.edu.sa. To read this and previous issues online, please search for “KAUST Impact” in your search engine or bookmark https://www.kaust.edu.sa/en/about/kaust-impact.


45 CREDITS

Credits EDITOR-IN-CHIEF David Keyes Senior Associate to the President for Strategic Partnerships and Global Branding EDITORIAL BOARD Najah Ashry Senior Associate to the President and Vice President for Strategic National Advancement Donal Bradley Vice President for Research Lawrence Carin Provost Kevin Cullen Vice President for Innovation MANAGING EDITORS Julie West Science Communications Specialist Michelle Ponto Interim Director for Global Branding and Communications Salah Sindi Senior In-Kingdom Media Advisor

Produced in collaboration with Oxford Business Group

Readers are welcome to provide feedback on KAUST Impact at kaustimpact@kaust.edu.sa. To read this and previous issues online, please search for “KAUST Impact” in your search engine or bookmark https://www.kaust.edu.sa/en/about/kaust-impact.