Saudi Arabia indicators Spanish scientist Fernando Maestre, one of the cited on this planet | Science | EUROtoday

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One of essentially the most cited scientists on this planet, the ecologist Fernando Maestre, will depart Spain and can transfer within the coming days to the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, in Thuwal (Saudi Arabia), as he himself confirmed to EL PAÍS. Maestre, nonetheless a professor on the University of Alicante, is a global chief within the research of desertification and had simply gained European help of two.5 million euros, which he must droop or reject.

Maestre, born 48 years in the past within the Alicante city of Sax, appreciates the help acquired at his college, however factors to the Spanish scientific system as one of many causes for his departure. “I can't take any more with the bureaucracy, the day-to-day difficulties, the lack of stable personnel, the need to continually request financing projects and the absurd paperwork,” he criticizes. The researcher has requested a five-year depart of absence from the University of Alicante to maneuver together with his household to the Arabian Peninsula.

Saudi Arabia based the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in the course of the desert in 2009, with an preliminary fund of about 20 billion euros. Its assets are immense. Maestre doesn’t element his wage, “very competitive”, however estimates that he may have about 15 instances extra money for analysis than together with his standard Spanish financing. The ecologist had a workforce of as much as 20 folks in Alicante, however he was the one one with a steady contract. Maestre explains {that a} younger researcher, with a lately accomplished doctorate, can earn about 1,500 euros in Spain, however in Saudi Arabia he’ll obtain about 5,000 euros tax-free every month, plus a airplane ticket per yr and a free home on campus. Four folks from his workforce in Alicante will go along with Maestre to Thuwal.

“I am a desert ecologist. Going to study the real desert, the hyper-arid areas, is a unique opportunity. I am aware that many people will not understand it, but, deep down, it is like time travel. Using a somewhat crude simile, I am going to see what Spain could be like in 50 years. “In Saudi Arabia they are already facing challenges very similar to those that we will have to face,” displays Maestre, who in 2022 gained the National Research Award, awarded by the Ministry of Science.

The Saudi college – often recognized by its acronym in English, KAUST – has recruited famend scientists from all over the world. Among the Spaniards, the chemist Jorge Gascón stands out, who directs the Catalysis Center of the establishment; digital engineer Mario Lanza, skilled in microchips; and the economic technical engineer Érica Álvarez, who works in a nanomaterials laboratory. The KAUST campus was the primary in Saudi Arabia by which men and women coexisted, regardless of the resistance of essentially the most fanatical sectors. The facility is an oasis in a rustic with severe violations of human rights. Everything is on campus: the lecturers' homes, the outlets, the sports activities areas, the English-language faculties for the kids and even its personal seaside. Women can put on brief sleeves.

Inauguration of the Climate Change Center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, in March 2023.
Inauguration of the Climate Change Center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, in March 2023.FOLDER

Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, president of the board of administrators of KAUST, introduced the college's new technique 5 months in the past, with the precedence of “transforming research into innovations with economic benefit.” The prince, accused by the United States of the homicide of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, proclaimed that “the goal is to turn the university into a beacon of knowledge and a source of inspiration and innovation […] to improve the Kingdom and the world.”

Oceanographer Carlos Duarte, additionally winner of the National Research Award in Spain, was one of many first to simply accept the supply from the Saudi college. This Monday, Duarte celebrated the anniversary of his arrival within the Arabian Peninsula, sharing on his social networks a portrait in conventional apparel, rifle in hand. “The land of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has immersed me in its generosity and beauty, so, at the dawn of my tenth year here, I decide to immerse myself in its name. “I am glad you call me Khaled Al-Andalusi,” Duarte posted.

They have created a college from nothing, however within the picture and likeness of the very best

Fernando Maestre, ecologist

The Saudi dictatorship has set the aim of no less than 5 of its universities being among the many prime 200 on this planet within the rankings within the yr 2030. One of the methods to advance is to have on employees researchers from the celebrated List of Highly Cited Scientists, ready annually by the multinational Clarivate. Some Arab establishments have used a shady trick: paying as much as 70,000 euros yearly to international scientists on this checklist to lie within the database and falsely declare that their primary administrative center is a Saudi college. One in 10 extremely cited Spanish consultants – 11 out of a complete of 112 – agreed to do that trick for cash, as EL PAÍS revealed in April.

Fernando Maestre was one of many researchers who refused to take part on this deception and denounced it publicly. The Saudi universities that benefited from this farce have been King Abdulaziz, King Saud and Taif. KAUST's technique is completely different: make actual signings of prime scientists, providing them considerable assets, cutting-edge laboratories and salaries unimaginable in different nations.

Maestre has already visited KAUST a few instances in current months. “They have created a university from nothing, but in the image and likeness of the best. They have world-class teaching staff. The research they are doing there is impressive. They have put the best people to work, with resources and without all the bureaucratic problems that we have here on a daily basis. It is a system made so that people give their best, with freedom to investigate,” she says.

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