In just two days, thousands of VIP's, heads of state, corporate leaders, and academics will come to KAUST as the king's guests. Millions of dollars have been spent for this show to make sure that the guests are impressed by the scale and vision of this university. The three stages of the inauguration will be held in three temporary structures or "tents," the exhibition tent, the ceremony tent, and the dining tent. Each of these is built to accommodate and entertain the king's thousands of guests, but none of them is completed yet. This is a picture of the front of the exhibition tent, where I will be volunteering on the 23rd.
As you can see, forklifts are still moving crates and building supplies around and the inside still has plenty of work to be done. If I was in the US, I would say that at least two more months are needed before everything could be ready - but I have learned not to underestimate the speed with which things are built here in the Middle East. On the 23rd, the structure will be complete and the show will be spectacular, but a part of me is still concerned that too many shortcuts will be taken in the rush to complete everything. When the guests arrive I pray that the AC will work, the displays will not short out, and bits of the ceiling will not fall down onto the crowd below (ala student and faculty housing).
The ceremony tents have been constructed across the bay from KAUST campus with a nice view of the beacon, the library, and the lab buildings, all seen here.
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