The beacon during inauguration practice on Tuesday. Volunteers were told not to bring cameras to the event itself, but I got some good shots of the laser show the day before.
The KAUST inauguration was everything it was advertised to be! I won't bore you with the ceremony details - if you are interested you can start skimming through the hundreds of articles online. I'll just share some of the highlights of my experience.
I got a late start and rushed to get to the volunteer pick-up point where we waited for another hour (the organizers were even later than I was) to take the ten minute bus ride to the tents (pretty typical of this crazy week.) The late start meant that everyone in charge was stressed and about to snap, but somehow the students and faculty standing volunteers made it to the exhibition tent just before the first guests began to arrive. The exhibition tent displays were really cool, but our job was less than glamorous - just stand around and talk to people.
I loved it. I chatted with several visiting professors, took pictures for some important Saudis (they brought their cameras...) and conversed with the regional UNESCO director.
Just before the King came, we learned that there was in fact room for the student volunteers to watch the ceremony and eat dinner afterward. The ceremony was cool! There were lots of long speeches, some impressive visual effects, a play, a poetry reading, some Quran quotes, and most importantly, we saw the King in Person!
The ceremony ended with a fireworks and laser show which eclipsed the night sky. Dinner afterward was good, and I had a live interview with the Saudi National News.
All in all, a good day. Was the king's party worth 100 million (or more) dollars? I don't know, but it sure was impressive, and KAUST got the recognition it deserves.
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