Designation: Founding President
Country: Saudi Arabia/Singapore
Occupation: Founding President
The King Abdullah University of Science and Research is a groundbreaking institution, and not just for the quality of the academic research that takes place there.
Founded by Professor Choon Fong Shih - who was already a global leader in academic and corporate scientific research - the university redefines opportunities for women in the kingdom.
A graduate-level research university dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement, KAUST is an independent, merit-based institution that has set the bar for education in the Arab world. It is also a place of learning where women are allowed to study alongside men without wearing a face covering, and even drive on campus.
With the explicit backing of HRH King Abdullah, Professor Shih is disregarding the slurs of Islamic scholars queuing up to condemn the university. And in the process, he is enabling the emergence of an unprecedented phenomenon in the kingdom: a generation of university-educated Saudi females.