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Posted: December 3, 2007
Nanotechnology institute to be set up in Riyadh
(Nanowerk News) King Abdullah has approved a proposal to set up a nanotechnology institute that will be named after him at a two million square meter facility in Riyadh Techno Valley. The institute will serve as an advanced technology research center for King Saud University (KSU).
News of the center was announced by Dr. Abdullah Al-Othman, rector of KSU, who also said that Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, has donated SR30 million for the recruitment of top research scientists from all over the world for the advanced technology research center, now renamed Riyadh Techno Valley.
Al-Othman was speaking at the start of the three-day Seventh Saudi Engineering Conference, which was inaugurated by Interior Minister Prince Naif on behalf of Crown Prince Sultan at KSU’s auditorium.
In his opening address, Prince Naif paid tribute to the KSU initiative and stressed the importance of manpower for the Kingdom’s development. “The future of the country depends on its youth, which in turn depends on human resources development. The scientific community must exert more effort to train and qualify the Saudi youth,” he said.
He praised KSU’s effort to recruit Nobel laureates and top research scientists as well as creating chairs to conduct research with the cooperation of leading universities and multinational companies.
Prince Naif said the research would benefit society and also strengthen KSU both at the national and international levels. Naif said the new emphasis on research and development marks a new phase in the Kingdom’s march from infrastructural development in the past to human resource and scientific development.
Later speaking to reporters, Prince Naif said the recent arrest of 208 terror suspects was a national achievement. He emphasized the need for tracking down overstayers and illegal workers in order to prevent rise in crimes in the country.
He called upon Saudis not to provide job, transportation and accommodation to overstayers.
Naif emphasized the need to enlighten the Saudi youth on the dangers of deviant and destructive ideologies, and called upon Saudi universities, media and prayer leaders at mosques to play a greater role in this field.
He described terror financiers as more dangerous than those who execute their plans, and warned that all of these “financiers” would be arrested.
Prince Naif, who is chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee, said Saudi Arabia has completed preparations for the annual pilgrimage that begins on Dec. 18. “We’ll deploy a large number of security agencies in the service of pilgrims,” he added.
In another development, King Abdullah yesterday approved 29 new colleges in various parts of the country as part of the government’s drive to promote higher education.
Higher Education Minister Dr. Khaled Al-Anqari said a college of engineering and a college of science and computer engineering would be established in Yanbu under the Madinah-based Taiba University.
The northern border city of Arar will have three colleges: a medical college, an applied medical science college and an engineering college. A college of computer science and information technology will be established in Refha. “The king’s approval reflects his desire to provide higher education facilities for students in all regions of the Kingdom,” the minister said. The new colleges will offer specializations required by the Kingdom’s labor market, he added.
Five new colleges will be set up under the newly opened University of Najran. They are: a medical college, an engineering college, a college of dentistry, a college of administrative sciences and a college of pharmacology. The summer resort of Taif will get two new colleges — one for science and literature and another for applied medical sciences.
Al-Kharj will get a college of pharmacology and a college of dentistry while Shaqra will get a college of science and literature, the minister said, adding that Dawadmi will have a science college. Seven community colleges will be established in Quwaieyya, Mahd, Al-Ola, Tabarjal, Kharma, Rijal Almae and Mahayil Asir. A new college of science and literature will be established in Mahayil Asir and a college of administrative sciences in Dammam. A college for administrative sciences and humanities will be set up in Sakaka and a college of science and literature in Gurayat.
Al-Othman said, “It is a historic day for King Saud University, which has now become a truly international university.” He added agreements had been signed with 15 world class universities and multinational companies, including Harvard University, Ohio State University, South Denmark University, Illinois State University, Saab company of Sweden, the National University of Singapore (in the field of petrochemicals), the Institute of Nantechnology (France) and the Indian Institute of Technology, among others.
With today’s agreements, said Al-Othman, KSU will undergo a profound transformation as a top-flight university-cum-research center over the next 10 years. “It will embark on a new course to lead the Kingdom toward a knowledge-based economy and also by creating a partnership between the private sector and academic institutions in the field of research and development,” he said.
The rector said a seven-member team of research scientists from KSU will visit Sweden next week to hold talks with their Swedish counterparts on preparing a blueprint for the research center. “Saab has research and development centers in many Swedish universities. A KSU team from the College of Engineering will visit the Science Park, the university and also its headquarters to bring new technology to the Kingdom,” he said.
Al-Othman said KSU has allocated an initial grant of SR100 million for the development of the research center. The main focus of the research and development program will be to select the type of research activity that would benefit the economy.
In his speech, professor Glauber, winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize for his contribution to the quantum theory of optical coherence, said that during his research he discovered the contribution of Arabs in the astronomy and mathematics. He hoped that by associating Nobel laureates and research scientists with KSU’s research and development program, they could open a new chapter by bringing the benefits of scientific research to the student community and giving a boost to higher education.