UC San Diego Technology Institute Forges Research Partnership with Saudi Institutions

Tripartite Agreement Involves Telecommunications, Health, Transport and Tourism

San Diego and Riyadh, April 5, 2010 -- The University of California, San Diego has signed an initially three-year agreement with Saudi Arabia's national science agency and national laboratories King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) to collaborate on the development of information technology systems and advanced communications.

(l-r) Khalid Al-Ahmadi, Deputy Director for Scientific Affairs, KACST Space Research Institute; Calit2 researcher Anders Nilsson; Eng. Saad Al-Mazrou, STC's General Manager of R&D; Calit2 Director of Visualization Tom DeFanti; KACST President Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Suwaiyel; former UC President Robert Dynes; Prince Dr. Turki Bin Saud Bin Mohammed Al Saud, Vice President for research institutes at KACST; Eng. Saud Bin Majed Al-Daweesh, CEO of STC Group; Calit2 researcher Ganz Chockalingam; Saleh Al-Harthi, General Manager for Planning and Performance in STC’s Enterprise Business Unit; Calit2 UCSD Division Director Ramesh Rao; and Mohammed Al-Kanhal, Director of KACST’s Computer and Electronic Research Institute.
The agreement was signed in the presence of His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Suwaiyel, KACST's President, and former UC President Robert Dynes. The signatories included His Highness Prince Dr. Turki Bin Saud Bin Mohammed Al Saud, KACST’s Vice President for research institutes; Eng. Saud Bin Majed Al-Daweesh, Chief Executive Officer of STC Group, the main telecommunications carrier in Saudi Arabia and the region; and Ramesh Rao, Director of the UCSD Division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).

Former UC President Bob Dynes (far left) looks on as Calit2's Ramesh Rao signs the tripartite agreement with KACST's Prince Turki Bin Saud Bin Mohammed Al Saud and STC Chief Executive Officer Saud Bin Majed Al-Daweesh (far right).
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement on a tripartite research partnership with UC San Diego and Saudi Telecom,” said Prince Turki after the ceremony. “I have visited the campus in California on multiple occasions, and it became abundantly clear that Calit2 has deep experience with prototyping technologies of direct benefit to society – an important goal for KACST. Our researchers and industry specialists will get the opportunity to collaborate with some of the best engineers in the world as they look for solutions that can work in the global context.”

Prince Turki added that KACST is currently working to move beyond research and development to provide and deliver tangible results for the benefits of the public and private sectors in the Kingdom, indicating that this agreement will implement more than ten projects to provide tangible products to serve vital sectors, such as health, traffic, pilgrimage and tourism. These projects will have economic returns and contribute to building a knowledge-based society in Saudi Arabia.

Calit2 Director of Visualization Tom DeFanti celebrates the research agreement... on a camel.
“STC believes in innovation,” said STC CEO Saud Al-Daweesh. "We have presented to our customers the latest and most advanced services and we intend to keep STC the leader of innovations in the region. Part of STC’s strategy is to support the Government's ambitious plans to transform the Kingdom into a Knowledge-based Economy, in which advanced information and communication technology services play a major role. STC considers its support for R&D not only part of the company's social responsibility, but also a commitment to our customers to solve their real problems and make their lives easier."

Further, added Eng. Saud, “Wireless and advanced communications technologies have become a driving force for innovation in many sectors of society and our company is investing heavily in next-generation networks and the wireless Internet. KACST as well as Calit2 and UCSD have a strong track record of cooperation with their partners in the telecommunications industry, so we look forward to working closely with their researchers and hopefully to the eventual commercialization of technologies developed through this partnership.”

The Calit2 delegation to Riyadh for meetings with research partners at STC and KACST: (l-r) Anders Nilsson, Ramesh Rao, Tom DeFanti, former UC President Bob Dynes, and Ganz Chockalingam.
“This is a win-win situation for Calit2 and our Saudi partners,” said Calit2’s Rao. “At a time when campus and state budgets are strained in California, this agreement will help support the work of faculty and students who will primarily be working in our research labs in San Diego. At the same time, KACST has a large workforce of researchers who will be able to collaborate in person or remotely via videoconferencing with their world-class California counterparts. With Saudi Telecom, we also have an important ally as we prototype and test new wireless solutions for Saudi Arabia, especially in the health sector.”

In addition to Rao and former UC President Dynes, the UC San Diego delegation at the signing ceremony in Riyadh included Calit2 researchers Tom DeFanti, Ganz Chockalingam and Anders Nilsson. Dr. Saleh Al-Harthi, a former KACST researcher who earned his Ph.D. from UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering, and who is now at Saudi Telecom, will be playing a central role in facilitating this collaboration.

Related Links

Saudi Telecom Company
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