Fig. 1. Prof. Abdullah bin Abdurrahman Al Othman, rector KSU, and Prof. Theodor Hänsch, Nobel laureate and director at MPQ, signing the memorandum of agreement, starting the collaboration between KSU and MPQ.

In October 2007, the King Saud University (KSU) has made a leap towards internationality by signing agreements with a number of international scholars and researchers in diverse scientific areas. The University has signed agreements with eight internationally renowned professors, among them Nobel laureate Prof. Theodor Hänsch from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ). Within their Nobel program, KSU is inviting Nobel Laureates to give public lectures and hold scientific conferences. By doing so the University aims at realizing strategic national goals, such as:

  1. Promoting research and development in the Kingdom by attracting internationally renowned scientists
  2. Spreading the culture of science, creativity and innovation across the various social strata through the organization of public lectures and media coverage of Nobel Prize Winners
  3. Seeking distinguished international expertise to bolster the University’s research and consultative potentials in order to enhance developmental national programs and help the university accomplish international leadership
  4. Creating for the students the opportunity to meet with Nobel Laureates, as role models, in order to nurture within them the spirit of scientific excellence and leadership and benefit from their special expertise and experiences

In January 2008 a delegation of high-ranking politicians and leading scientists from Saudi Arabia accompanied the Saudi Arabic Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Khalid M. Al-Angari, on his visit to the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics. A service contract was signed between MPQ director Prof. Ferenc Krausz and the KSU rector Prof. Abdullah Al Othman starting the KSU-MPQ collaboration in the fields of higher education and research including the areas of laser technology, nanotechnology, quantum, energy and power technologies and last but not least electronics and photonics.

Fig. 2. Left: Prof. Ferenc Krausz, in his function as managing director at MPQ, concluded the agreement on the 16th of January 2008 with KSU rector Prof. Abdullah Al Othman and KSU vice rector Prof. Ali Ghamdi
Right: Meeting at KSU with KSU rector Prof. Abdullah Al Othman, MPQ director Prof. Ferenc Krausz and KSU vice rector Prof. Ali Al Ghamdi meeting. .

In May 2008 Prof. Ferenc Krausz visited KSU and met with KSU rector Prof. Abdullah Al Othman. During the meeting, which was also attended by KSU vice rector Prof. Ali Al Ghamdi, ways of implementing the contract of services signed between the University and the Max Planck Institute of quantum optics were discussed.

Fig. 3. Ambassador Prof. Dr. med. Ossama Abdul Majed Shobokshi together with KSU vice rector Prof. Ali Al Ghamdi and KSU professor Abdallah Azzeer inaugurating the KSU satellite office at MPQ.

Prof. Dr. med. Ossama Abdul Majed Shobokshi, ambassador to Germany, inaugurated on November 20th 2008, King Saud University's first satellite laboratory and office at MPQ in the presence of Prof. Ali Al Ghamdi, KSU vice rector. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Prof. Fahad I. Alhabeeb, the Saudi Cultural Attaché in Germany, Dr. Abdallah M. Azzeer, Head of the research team in the Saudi-German Cooperation Program for Advanced Laser Research, and Dr. Zeyad Al Ahmed, a member of the research team. On the German side, the ceremony was attended by Prof. Dr. Theodor W. Hänsch, Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics and director at MPQ and Prof. Dr. Ferenc Krausz, managing director of MPQ, and a number of scientists and researchers in the field of advanced laser research.

Fig. 4. Left: Signing of the agreement between MPQ and KSU by the project coordinators Prof. Abdallah Azzeer (KSU) and Prof. Ferenc Krausz (MPQ) to start three research projects on intense laser source development and laser matter interactions.
Right: MPQ director Prof. Ferenc Krausz presenting recent research on intense laser sources to the KSU delegation in Nov. 2008.

The joint research activities between MPQ and KSU provide the basis for the transfer of skills, knowledge, and technological expertise in the field of advanced laser research. Prof. Dr. Theodor W. Hänsch said on this occasion:

"Since I first visited Riyadh in 1989 as a recipient of the King Faisal International Prize for Science, I have witnessed astonishing advances in the architecture of this city which has become a thrilling metropolis. However, I am even more impressed by the far-sighted massive investments of the kingdom in the educational system which will create unprecedented opportunities for many talented young people in Saudi Arabia. Our Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching has just signed an agreement of cooperation with King Saud University that will allow Ph.D. students and researchers from King Saud University to participate in advanced research studying the interaction of light with matter. The work will focus on the development of novel sources of coherent intense ultrashort light pulses from the infrared to the extreme ultraviolet, with envisioned applications ranging from fundamental research in atomic physics or astronomy to the manufacturing of nano-scale integrated circuits and novel approaches to the diagnostics of early-stage cancer. The exchange of researchers will strengthen not only our research enterprises but also the personal and cultural links between Germany and Saudi Arabia, and I am looking forward to new personal friendships".

Fig. 5. Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between KSU and LMU by KSU rector Prof. Badran A. O. AlOmar and LMU president Prof. Bernd Huber.

In November 2013 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote international scientific research was signed between KSU rector Prof. Badran A. O. AlOmar and the president of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Prof. Bernd Huber. Within the collaboration between both universities they agree to exchange researchers, teaching staff and students, establish and organize coordinated classes, conducting joint research projects, organize international colloquia, and exchange teaching materials. On the basis of this MOU, a first research program towards the development of femtosecond technology of the third generation as a cornerstone of a world-class ultrafast photonics center at KSU was initiated by Prof. Abdallah Azzeer, professor at KSU and Dean of the King-Abdallah Institute of Nanotechnology and Prof. Ferenc Krausz, director at MPQ and professor at LMU. The developed technology is aimed at opening a new chapter for ultrafast photonics and its applications.

Fig. 6. King Abdullah Institute of Nanotechnology (KAIN).

The next objective of the collaboration is to create a world-class photonics laboratory at KSU and, on its basis, the King Abdullah Research Center and Graduate School in Photonics (KAP), in close cooperation with the King Abdullah Institute of Nanotechnology (KAIN). KAP is aimed at offering world-class research and training opportunities in the area of ultrafast photonics, relying on the use of intense, ultrashort pulses of laser light. The new technology, developed jointly within the collaboration between KSU and LMU will constitute the cornerstone of the scientific infrastructure of KAP, making it unparalleled on a world-wide scale. In close cooperation with KAIN, it is aimed at providing unique research opportunities in exploring microscopic processes governed by the motion of electrons.