Opinion

More than an agreement

December 12, 2022
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology President Tony Chan
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology President Tony Chan

By King Abdullah University of Science and Technology President Tony Chan

One way that KAUST comes into partnership with different entities, be they businesses, educational institutions or governmental agencies, is through what are called Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) — agreements that communicate the mutual intentions and goals of both parties that lead to further actions.

KAUST has signed many MoUs with high profile organizations in Saudi Arabia as well as external partners throughout the course of the past year. You might have read about these agreements in various news articles and press releases, but you might not appreciate their value, and what they mean for the Kingdom.

MoUs are about beginnings in that they pave the way for new developments, but there’s far more to the story. In many respects, they represent a cumulation of involvement.

For example, our agreement with ENOWA (NEOM’s energy and water subsidiary) and the Saudi Electricity Company will implement a cryogenic carbon capture pilot plant that can capture 30 tons of carbon dioxide per day in what is expected to be one of the largest demonstrations of cryogenic carbon capture technology today.

The MoU, though only recently signed at the Saudi Green Initiative during COP27 in Egypt, represents years of extensive research, testing, planning and development. The pure, high-grade liquid CO2 from emissions that would otherwise be lost to the atmosphere can be used for many things, including carbonated beverages and e-fuels to replace fossil fuels. This arrangement is one of many contributing measures aligned with the Kingdom’s goal to reduce its carbon footprint.

Our agreement with AEON Collective will ensure that groundbreaking research at KAUST will have the necessary platforms to reach governmental, industrial and other non-governmental stakeholders, and accelerate the societal impact of innovative solutions.

An MoU between KAUST and the Saudi Industrial Development Fund will deliver training that supports the industrial sector, which will upskill the local workforce, help create new job opportunities for Saudi youth, and open avenues to new labor markets. And KAUST and the National Digital Transformation Unit are conducting joint research projects and sharing expertise in transformational next-generation digital technologies such as 5G, drones, smart cities, robotics and more.

These developments support both the theme of this year’s Saudi Green Initiative Forum — “from ambition to action” — and the COP27 Summit’s billing, “implementation COP.”

The fact that so many MoUs are being put in motion in a short span of time is a sign of the times that the Kingdom is in a state of transformation, and rapidly accelerating toward its climate action goals. KAUST has governance and continuous review processes in place to ensure the implementation of these agreements. To underscore what Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman said in his Q&A on the opening day, “We heard you, and we are delivering.”

So, the next time you read about an MoU, you can know that another interesting project is in development, with tangible outputs aimed to directly improve the quality of life for Saudi society, and with repercussions for the world. KAUST is proud to be a part of this action.


December 12, 2022
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