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Prof. Dr. Falleh Al-Solamy President King Khalid University (KKU)

SAUDI ARABIA - Health & Education

Prof. Dr. Falleh Al-Solamy

President, King Khalid University (KKU)

Bio

Falleh Al-Solamy has been President of KKU in Abha since 2016. He holds a PhD in mathematics (differential geometry) from the University of Wales Swansea in the UK and BSc in mathematics from King Abdulaziz University. He previously held various academic and management positions at KingAbdulaziz University, the University of Tabuk, and Jazan University. He has also sat on several committees.

"The KKU strategic plan has shaped the targeted partnerships for the university."
TBY talks to Prof. Dr. Falleh Al-Solamy, President of King Khalid University (KKU), about the university’s operations, the Aseer region, and improving quality of life for students and staff.
KKU recently moved to its new campus in Kara’a. How does this move to the new campus benefit the university’s operations?

The new university city at Kara’a is located on 8.6sqkm, a fact that ensures high-quality services for everyone within and outside the university. The new university city includes various facilities ranging from an academic complex and KKU medical city to student clubs, restaurants, and sports city. Such a close clustering of various complexes means that a wide range of stakeholders can easily utilize all facilities across the university city, which will contribute to facilitating and improving the university operations.

What are KKU’s efforts and plans to further realize the objectives of the Aseer region strategies that were announced?

KKU has been working hand in hand with the Aseer Development Authority Commission to achieve shared goals for the benefit of the Aseer region and its inhabitants, as well as for the fulfillment of Vision 2030 in general. KKU aims to actively contribute to Aseer’s newly announced strategy of being among the top five local and international tourist destinations. KKU will refresh its academic offerings, hence, providing well-educated and trained human capital for the future Aseer labor market needs and involving national and international stakeholders to assist in defining the curriculum design and graduate output.

What are KKU’s efforts in elevating the position of the Aseer region and make it an attractive spot for academic studies, tourism, and career opportunities?

KKU is considered one of the main enablers for the fulfillment of the Aseer development strategy. KKU offers around 160 degrees across the Aseer region, which shows the effort KKU has achieved to provide the necessary educational services to the area. This will enhance the region’s job market by providing newly graduated students. In addition, King Khalid University has been winning national and international awards and recognition as part of elevating the university’s position as a source of academic attraction for international students and career opportunities. Among the most recent prestigious awards and rankings achieved by the university are fourth place in the Open Education Global Award 2022, Repository/Curation Category for its initiative of Open E-Courses. Additionally, the university accomplished a big leap from the 640th position worldwide in the Shanghai Ranking of World Universities for 2022, jumping 200 places from the previous year. The university has also become one of three Saudi universities scoring 301 positions internationally, fulfilling all the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking, and among the top 100 international universities fulfilling the goals of clean water, general cleanliness, and affordable clean energy source. Accomplishing higher national and international ranks by 2030 is one of the university priorities as it implements the Vision 2030 programs, along with global trends and best practices in higher education.

How is KKU building toward enhancing the quality of life for both students and inhabitants of the region?

KKU academics, students and administrative employees are generally contributing to the enhancement of a wide spectrum of community activities and services in the region. The university’s efforts toward improving quality of life can be briefly put into three focus areas: the huge capacities of the new university city, the improvement of academic offerings, and the area’s research interests. Regarding leveraging its academic offerings, KKU has dedicated nine initiatives in its new strategic plan for improving teaching and learning outputs, which in turn reflect on the enhanced quality of life for its students and the Aseer region. These initiatives, revolve around personalizing the academic journey of its students with specialized tracks most compatible with labor market needs, developing work-ready capabilities for students through hands-on experience training in the real workplace of KKU partners, and reskilling and upskilling micro-credential programs for KKU graduates as well as the Aseer workforce. In terms of research, KKU recently announced its priorities for research, development, and innovation; health and community well-being have been listed as one of the main priorities for KKU. Furthermore, KKU is leading the green environmental and agriculture movement in the Aseer region by arming the transformation process with scientific consultations and advanced research. Such activities could massively contribute to the Aseer environment and wildlife through cost-effective, prototyped technologies and tools.

What are your main strategic partnerships to help elevate university ranking and attract foreign academics, researchers, and students to experience what both the university and the region have to offer?

The KKU strategic plan has shaped the targeted partnerships for the university. The strategy has stated two main pathways for partnership: educational partnerships and research and innovation partnerships. Educational partnerships include establishing strong ties with higher education institutions in terms of joint academic programs, international student exchange, visiting professorships, as well as the collaborative sharing of technical and human capital between KKU and its partners to enhance the outcome of KKU academic programs. Research and innovation partnerships are enriched by a wide network of local, regional, and international research collaborations. Additionally, KKU’s technical capabilities and comparative advantages make it one of the most important attractors for high quality partnerships, along with research and innovation facilitators in the Kingdom. Furthermore, KKU has a well-defined roadmap that has been established with the guidance of the KKU strategic priorities for research, development, and innovation. They align with the Aseer Development Strategies and the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 with their focus on three main directions: green environment and agriculture, advanced smart materials and technologies, and health and community wellbeing.

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