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In the elegant confines of Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University for Girls, Saudi Arabia’s newest institution of higher education, King Saud Rector Abdullah Al-Othman gave a very special tribute to the late Prince Salman during a recent organizational meeting.
“To honor the memory of the late Prince,” he said of the respected royal leader who died several weeks earlier, “the (KSU) Prince Sultan Research Center for Environment, Water and Desert (PSRCEWD) has been designated a specialized institute, after the approval of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.”
The Rector cited Prince Sultan as a “pillar of the Kingdom” and a man who held King Saud University in great esteem, supporting the Kingdom’s largest university in thought and in deed, endowing it with various distinguished programs and institutes.
“May God preserve him,” he added. “Again we extend our condolences to everyone and we ask the All Mighty to rest the soul of our late Prince.”
The bonding of Prince Sultan’s name to the KSU research chair the environment, water and desert was particularly appropriate in light of the annual Prince Sultan Prize for Water program he initiated in 2002, a program in which $270,000 is awarded for major “breakthroughs” involving water, as well as four additional $130,000 stipends in successful projects in four specific areas: surface water, underground water, non-traditional water, and water resources management and protection.”
And the Rector’s praise could not have been delivered at a more appropriate site considering that the late Prince was one of the Kingdom’s greatest advocates and benefactors for education, and that the University City for Girls represents one of the Kingdom’s most significant all-time achievements. The royal leader was one of the special guests for both the ceremonial laying of the university’s first foundation stone on November 2, 2008 and for last spring’s dedication of the $5.3 billion university that sprawls over 2,000 acres approximately 15 miles east of downtown Riyadh.
Proclaimed the world’s largest women-only university, the streamlined university has received international acclaim, including glowing praise of Sir Tom Phillips, the British ambassador to Saudi Arabia. “The creation of the magnificent campus demonstrates the commitment of the Saudi government to extend educational opportunity to society,” the British ambassador said.
Certainly, the university is a monument to Saudi’s expanding international standing in educational excellence and a quantum leap from the small Al-Malaz and Olaysha campuses no longer able to absorb the significant increase of students in Saudi Arabia where women represent 56 percent of the population in higher education. The University has an enrollment of 28,000 students guided by a faculty of 8,000 professors and administrators in 15 colleges and has the capacity to absorb up to 50,000 students.
The facilities and equipment are state-of-the-art, the curriculum is extremely diverse, the college of medicine is complemented by a 700-bed teaching hospital, and the amenities available to students and faculty are enormous. Some of the most noteworthy amenities include a major transit system that can be measured in kilometers, a library stocked with more 4.5 million books, dormitory space to house thousands, villas for faculty residence, a celebration hall, and a mosque that can accommodate thousands.
The University City for Girls has a varied functional and cultural variety and greatly contributes to giving women students and faculty a richer life, according to the Kingdom’s educational leaders. It has a distinct identity and is conducive to interaction between higher education and members of the community. International modernity, loyalty to its Riyadh roots of living in the middle of the desert and functional aptitude with the ideal exploration of the terrain all coalesce through the project.
In addition, appropriate placement of exits and entrances was initiated to allow male visitors access without infringing on the privacy of girl students, facilitate maintenance work while fully respecting the privacy of city dwellers without hindering their daily freedom of movement.
Dr. Al-Othman cited both the Bin Laden Group construction firm and everyone from the rectors to junior employees for their commitment to the University City for Girls project. He exclaimed that the Kingdom is reaping the fruits of their labor and added that KSU’s journey is a collective undertaking and will continue because the University is the indicator of higher education in the Kingdom and the region as a whole.
Dr. Al-Othman also took time to acknowledge a long-time friend and former mentor who attended the day’s activities.
“I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to my professor Abdullah bin Saeed, who was dean of student affairs when I was honored to begin working with him in the year 1415 H,” he said. “I learned a lot from him. He has my constant gratitude. Despite being retired, he honors us y being here with us today because of his attachment to KSU and his support for it, a support he shares with a number of his colleagues.”
His remarks also included a congratulatory message to His Highness Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz as the Crown Prince, describing the Prince Naif’s designation as a wise royal decision.
“Prince Naif has a very long experience and has served the Kingdom for better than 60 years,” the KSU Rector said. “He has rotated into a multitude of key and sensitive positions, and in the last 37 years, was Minister of the Interior. Indeed the Saudi people were waiting for such a wise decision from the Royal Court. The other decisions no doubt boosted the morale of the people, and we pray God to guide our King’s hand and to grant him health and long life.
“We also pray God to help Prince Naif face up to the multitude of challenges ahead”.
He also lauded appointment of Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz as Minister of Defense, describing it as a “fortunate choice” that should renew the gigantic and historic efforts by the late Prince Sultan, and the selection of Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz as prince of the Riyadh Region. Prince Sattam, the Rector said, is known for his concern and affection for KSU, always inquiring about its affairs.”