Celebrating 5 Years of KAUST

By | September 30, 2014

I wrote a bit about the 5 year anniversary a few weeks ago. Now that the main celebrations have passed, I wanted to follow-up and take a moment to share a few of the highlights.

The 5-Year Anniversary Photo

The most impactful commemoration in my opinion was a group of people self-organizing to take a 5-year photo at our main monument, the Beacon. Note the little, bitty people making up the “5 Years” in the photo below:

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Photo used with permission from Luca Passone

This wasn’t quite as big an event for many people as the festival that was planned for months (which I discuss below), but what it demonstrated to me was community pride, a real-world appreciation for and application of technology, and community members coming together to co-create something special.

A small group of dedicated community members worked together to plan the event, set the “stage”, solicit volunteers, get the mini helicopter with camera working for the event, and create a really wonderful video from the footage. I imagine this was a tremendous amount of work – and I’m blown away by the outcome.

Here is the video they produced:

KAUST 5 year tribute from Luca Passone on Vimeo. Video shared with Luca’s permission and under creative commons license.

If you’re interested, you can read the full write-up of the work from the organizers. And, WELL DONE to the organizers and participants of this impressive project!

 

The 5-Year Festival

A big, community-wide event was also planned to invite the entire community to celebrate the 5-year anniversary. Working in the President’s Office on a separate project, I have been listening to the planning and organizing for about 3 months and was getting tremendously excited for the festival! It did not disappoint!

It had a county-fair-meets-circus feel to it, with people on stilts, games for all ages with prizes, food from vendors in Jeddah, and lots of performances from abroad like a fire show and magicians, as well as community-artists. There was even a huge 3D light show over the harbor. It was really quite impressive.

Here are a few photos that were shared with me from the event:

Photo used with permission from the photographer, who wished to remain anonymous. All rights reserved.

Photo used with permission from the photographer, who wished to remain anonymous. All rights reserved.

Photo used with permission from the photographer, who wished to remain anonymous. All rights reserved.

Photo used with permission from the photographer, who wished to remain anonymous. All rights reserved.

Photo used with permission from the photographer, who wished to remain anonymous. All rights reserved.

Photo used with permission from the photographer, who wished to remain anonymous. All rights reserved.

Credit: Meres Weche. Photo used with permission from the photographer. All rights reserved.

Credit: Meres Weche. Photo used with permission from the photographer. All rights reserved.

Credit: Meres Weche. Photo used with permission from the photographer. All rights reserved.

Credit: Meres Weche. Photo used with permission from the photographer. All rights reserved.

Credit: Meres Weche. Photo used with permission from the photographer. All rights reserved.

Credit: Meres Weche. Photo used with permission from the photographer. All rights reserved.

Credit: Meres Weche. Photo used with permission from the photographer. All rights reserved.

Credit: Meres Weche. Photo used with permission from the photographer. All rights reserved.

Credit: Meres Weche. Photo used with permission from the photographer. All rights reserved.

Credit: Meres Weche. Photo used with permission from the photographer. All rights reserved.

The 5 year celebrations really made us think: “I can’t believe they pay us to live here”! Great job to everyone who worked on these projects!

  • Marek

    Hello Claire!
    I’m thinking of doing a PhD at KAUST in Chemistry – is there any advice you can give me in terms of like whether you think it’s worth it over like Oxford or Harvard?

  • This is a very personal decision. I wish you luck and success with whatever you decide.

  • Hello
    Nice to know about 5 years of KAUST. After few minutes search I came to know that 5 years near main monument, the Beacon was written by physical standing of people :) . Seems you had fun , nice to see lovely pictures.

  • Claire

    Yes! It’s written in people!

    Thanks for your kind words :-)

  • Nathan

    Hello Claire

    I am part way through the interview process for a position at KAUST. I am certainly interested in the position but a little concerned about the security situation at the moment.

    Would you mind emailing me if you are available to answer a few questions regarding your own experiences?

    Have a great day :)

  • Claire

    Hi Nathan, This is my take on the security situation here:

    Security is very important to us. I lived in/near Washington, DC for most of my life – including on 9/11. There, we had many things to worry about in terms of safety and we learned to be smart with our actions and prepared for possible emergencies.

    Here in Saudi, driving in a car (outside of the KAUST compound) is the biggest threat to our safety. We feel safe here in Saudi and at KAUST, but are always vigilant and try not to stand out – the same precautions we use anywhere else in the world. There is no place in the world that is truly safe, but certainly I feel much safer living at KAUST than I ever did in DC.

    I don’t know where you are coming from, but you might check your government’s warnings on travel to Saudi Arabia. For Americans, you can get this info and sign up to receive alerts to your email via this url: https://step.state.gov/step/

    Hope this helps!