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Science and Technology at the “Arab MIT”

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Over the past years, the Middle East has experienced a remarkable increase in state-of-the-art facilities for research and education. This innovation-driven environment with extraordinary financial resources has attracted top-notch faculty, staff, and students from all over the world.

My name is Michael Bogdan MĂRGINEANU and I am currently pursuing my Master studies in Cell Biology at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. 

Founded in 2009 and located on the eastern shore of the Red Sea, KAUST is a public co-educational research university which focuses exclusively on graduate education and research. It offers programs in Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering; Computer, Electrical, and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering; and Physical Sciences and Engineering. The academic system at KAUST takes after the American one; there are many similarities to top US universities. The excellent research facilities at this state-of-the-art institution are reflected by Shaheen – the strongest supercomputer in the Middle East – and the world’s highest field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) systems for structural biology and solid state research. Following Harvard and Yale, KAUST has the largest endowment of any university in the world.

Often referred to as the new “House of Wisdom” or the “Arab MIT,” KAUST has attracted top-notch faculty from all over the world, especially from countries such as USA, Germany, China, Japan, and Italy. The high diversity among the faculty is also reflected by the student body, with more than 60 nations represented on campus. This multicultural environment, in which creativity and teamwork is much valued, fosters great knowledge exchange and innovation.

KAUST offers generous funding to all admitted students, including free housing and health care, as well as a personal stipend. Students are also eligible for repatriation flights to their home country once per year as an additional benefit. As a member of the KAUST community, one has access to excellent indoor and outdoor recreational opportunities: swimming pavilions, tennis and squash courts, athletic tracks, and even a world-class grass golf course. At the same time, one can enjoy private chartered boat cruises, snorkelling and diving trips as well as other water sports such as windsurfing or kayaking. Periodically one can also participate in cultural and artistic events on campus.

How have I started this academic journey at KAUST? Following my graduation from Jacobs University Bremen, Germany, with a B.Sc. degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, I was determined to continue my graduate studies at Oxford. At the same time, I found out about KAUST from a research article I came across. Curious to learn more about this new institution in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I went on the official website and discovered a university with great vision and potential.

I have applied for admission to Oxford and KAUST and I have received admission offers from both institutions. What motivated me to choose KAUST? Along with the generous Fellowship I was offered, the excellent research facilities and especially the opportunity to bring my contribution to the scientific efforts in this region of the world. I should also mention my desire to learn Arabic and meet a new culture with great heritage and history. Last but not least, the beautiful campus located on the shore of the Red Sea and the climate of Saudi Arabia, have attracted me especially after three years spent in northern Germany.

I encourage students from all over the world to apply to KAUST and consider educational opportunities in this region of the world with great potential for scientific discovery and technology development. KAUST offers a model for advanced education and cutting-edge scientific research in the Middle East and can make a difference in the global landscape of science and technology.

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