Saudi School Aims to Save the Planet

How much would it cost to solve some of the world’s biggest problems? King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia says about $10 billion.

How much would it cost to solve some of the world’s biggest problems? King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia says about $10 billion — that’s the endowment he’s given to the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or KAUST, a huge research facility devoted to solving some of the major problems facing the planet.

KAUSTThe brand new school — it opened just this past fall — rises from the desert north of Jeddah like the secret research lab in a James Bond movie. The desert blooms here, thanks to a private desalination plant and an army of gardeners. With a private Red Sea beach, knock-your-socks-off architecture and world-class labs, KAUST hopes to lure the world’s brainiest scientists to this Xanadu for nerds.

This isn’t a university in the traditional sense, says KAUST President Choon Fong Shih.

“KAUST is a global university of the 21st century,” Shih says, “a place where we integrate graduate education with research and the cutting edge.”

That word — global — is thrown around a lot in higher education these days. Every university is trying to spread its wings and go international. What’s different at KAUST? Well, for one thing — money. And lots of it. Money can buy some very nice science toys.

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Source: NPR
Photo: NPR/KAUST