Scholarships abroad for 330 students as part of ambitious Saudi tourism project

The Royal Commission for Al-Ula (RCU) is set to open the second phase of a scholarship program for Al-Ula high school graduates from the 2018/2019 academic year. (SPA/File Photo)
Updated 18 June 2019

Scholarships abroad for 330 students as part of ambitious Saudi tourism project

  • Places will be offered to 330 students from the northwestern region of Saudi Arabia to study in Australia, France, the US and the UK

JEDDAH: Hundreds of Saudi students are being given the chance to study abroad as part of an ambitious tourism project for the Kingdom.
The Royal Commission for Al-Ula (RCU) is set to open the second phase of a scholarship program for Al-Ula high school graduates from the 2018/2019 academic year.
Places will be offered to 330 students from the northwestern region of Saudi Arabia to study in Australia, France, the US and the UK, almost double the number of scholarships made available in the program’s first round.
The RCU-sponsored initiative offers education and training in professions that will support the growth and development of Al-Ula into an open, living museum and global tourism destination.
Saudi minister of culture and RCU governor, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, said the scholarship program’s success represented “an important step in the realization of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vision for a Kingdom that thrives from the contributions of a vibrant, successful society.
“We will continue to develop the scholarship program in a way that empowers the youth of Al-Ula to reach their full potential, and in turn, benefit the growth of the entire Kingdom.
“We, at RCU, believe that investing in people is the real catalyst for the success of development plans anywhere. Therefore, we invest in the youth of Al-Ula who have shown their skills and abilities to achieve their goals,” Prince Badr added.
Applications for the second phase of the project can be submitted via the RCU’s website at https://rcu.gov.sa/scholarship from 10 a.m. on June 20 until the end of the day on June 30.
The launch of round two of the program will see a total of 496 students from Al-Ula studying tourism and hospitality, history and archaeology, and agriculture, along with the specialist subjects of architecture and urban design, environmental planning, and facilities and services management.
As part of the program’s expansion, Australia has been added as a host country for the select group of students from Al-Ula who will pursue vocational education, diplomas, and bachelor’s or master’s degrees.
The aim of the scholarship program is to develop skills and expertise among talented local youth, to enable them to play a major role in the ongoing development of Al-Ula on return from their foreign studies.
The RCU’s charter also looks to help catalyze new and diverse economic sectors in Al-Ula while involving the local people at all stages of development.
The RCU provided employment opportunities for the local community of Al-Ula to work with tourists and visitors during the 2018-2019 Winter at Tantora festival, in its first season, with them taking part in the 10-week series of concerts, cultural and entertainment events.
The scholarship program is just one component of a wider plan to develop Al-Ula, its natural wonders and ancient cultural sites into one of the world’s leading tourism destinations.


Startup of the Week: A Saudi Eco-friendly food waste startup brings value-added benefits

KAUST has been highly supportive of Carbon CPU, both technically and financially. (Supplied)
Updated 21 January 2020

Startup of the Week: A Saudi Eco-friendly food waste startup brings value-added benefits

  • Aldrees: “Over 90 percent of food waste in Saudi Arabia is dumped into landfills”
  • Carbon CPU’s technology uses a specially developed, eco-friendly reactor to help convert food waste into fatty acids

Carbon CPU is a biotechnology startup specializing in turning food waste into fatty acids for use as livestock nutrients.

Launched through the post-graduate startup accelerator program (TAQADAM) of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the venture was co-founded by Bin Bian, Jiajie Xu, Yara Aldrees, Sara Al-Eid and Prof. Pascal Saikaly.

The idea behind the enterprise began to take shape in 2018. Al-Eid said: “Our aim was to recycle food waste into value-added products in a manner that matched the Saudi Vision 2030 strategy.”

Similar to most countries, Saudi Arabia has a food waste problem, but Carbon CPU thought of utilizing it in a way that caused less harm to the environment and also benefitted the animal feed industry.

“Over 90 percent of food waste in Saudi Arabia is dumped into landfills,” said Aldrees. “This produces a lot of gas, including methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and cycloaromatics, and contributes to global warming and air pollution.”

Water and soil were also being contaminated through leachate production, she added. “We’re trying to solve those issues, too.”

 

The team found that animal farms often struggled to provide enough feed nutrients for livestock such as cows and sheep. Al-Eid said there was a huge shortage of fatty acids, which are used as livestock nutrients and were in high demand from farmers.

“We’re trying to help animals live longer and be more nutritious,” she added.

Carbon CPU’s technology uses a specially developed, eco-friendly reactor to help convert food waste into fatty acids.

“We produce fatty acids from the food waste, extracting them through a liquid-liquid extraction system. The fatty acid oils are then used to help animal feed, as well as the feed and chemical industries,” said Xu.

KAUST has been highly supportive of Carbon CPU, both technically and financially, added Bian. “KAUST, especially the Environmental Biotechnology Lab led by Prof Pascal Saikaly, provided us with the facilities to set up our reactors. The KAUST Innovation and Economic Development department and the Entrepreneurship Center also gave us a lot of guidance on how to push our technology into the market.”

The startup initially faced many challenges that KAUST helped to resolve. As individuals coming from backgrounds mainly in engineering and science, the team lacked the know-how in business that its project needed.

“KAUST made up for our lack of business thinking through training on how to solve business issues and create business modules and find the right customers for our product,” said Bian.