Visiting the KAUST Museum in Saudi Arabia
Some time ago I visited the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in the Thuwal area, approximately 1 hour from Jeddah. Not everyone gets the opportunity to visit the KAUST due to capacity constraints but there is a devoted KAUST community that can visit by invitation or by filing a request for a permit in advance.
What is KAUST?
KAUST was established by the late king of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz. The purpose for the establishment of KAUST is to be an inspiration for peace and hope, and to serve not only the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but to benefit the world.
We were interested in visiting this place because there is a museum there that contains the history of Muslim scientists and inventors, in particular those who have contributed to the development of science and technology.
The KAUST Museum
When we arrived at the KAUST campus the examination was rigorous. We had to undergo the first inspection at the first gate by a guard then the second check point was not far from the first, about 500 m away, and the guard checked our iqamas (residence permits) and our permits to visit the KAUST.
Being inside of KAUST is not like being in the general Saudi area. You could say that it’s like an independent city. Women are not required to wear an abaya (the outerwear for women who live in Arabia) while within the campus and women can freely drive there. There’s a cinema available, in contrast to the fact that there are no cinemas in Saudi Arabia, and the facility is run by many teams of teachers and students from outside Arabia.
On the way to the museum we walked through very wide streets with large green gardens, grass and palm trees lined up neatly along the way. There were also artificial lakes and abstract sculptures.
The KAUST Museum was established with the mission to create world-class facilities, and to introduce and explore the role of Islam in science and technology. In addition, the museum builds upon the ancient concept of the “house of wisdom” legacy of the past.
Inside the museum are many examples of and information about the Muslim influence in science and technology. For example, the first Muslim to use the number zero (0) in mathematics was Al-Kwarizmi, and it was he who invented algebra, the title of his book. Another example is Thabit Ibn Qurra from Iran, a mathematician and geographer famous in his time and an expert in the figures. Masha Allah!
We can find much of the history and historical objects at the FAUST Museum that many people may not know about. Most of the history displayed is done so by using technologies such as touch screens so that everyone will be interested in learning not only about the history but about the technology as well. Children can learn and play while becoming familiar with the touch screen technology. In addition, there are lots of miniatures or replicas of relics from ancient times, replicas and relics used for building water facilities, machinery scales, as well as chemical tools.
Children will be interested in exploring this museum because there are a lot of fun things to learn in an interesting way. They can read about things on their own and they have the opportunity to hold the objects displayed in the exhibitions. The museum also presents a short film on the history of science and technology that is packaged in a very attractive way for visitors.
Although our visit was brief it was memorable, especially for the children as they learned more details about the history of Islam. Hopefully they can take some of the lessons and pass on what they learn about science and technology to others. As quoted from the word pearl in the museum: “Seek knowledge from cradle to grave.”