KAUST has come a long way too. Administrators are settling into their roles and delegating more work to an ever-growing staff. The students will be moved into permanent housing in January and (Inshallah) have fewer problems with maintenance. Some of the construction fences have been taken down and buildings have been finished. Even the large grocery store is now open (which has seriously increased the happiness of almost all KAUStians!)
Many things remain to be improved upon as well: biology labs still have much work until they are fully operational, the lab consumables supply chain is questionable, the housing really isn't finished yet (but we are moving in in January...), a lot of decision making is still happening at the highest levels and sometimes seems disconnected from student and faculty concerns, the beach is still colosed off, and there are still hundreds (if not thousands) of construction laborers working at KAUST every day.
Hopefully some of those things will be sorted out during the vacation. In the mean time, I am badly needing these next three weeks back home in New York with my family.