Meet Abdullah Albakry

A proud beneficiary of the KAUST Gifted Student Program (KGSP), Abdullah Albakry obtained his bachelor’s degree at North Carolina State University in the United States before returning to Saudi Arabia to complete his master’s at KAUST. “It was an amazing experience being exposed to a different culture, then coming back to KAUST,” Albakry says, particularly given that U.S. universities are renowned for their world-class campuses and facilities. As a student who grew up in Jeddah, however, less than an hour from KAUST, he takes great pride in adding that its campus and facilities are “even better than some U.S. universities.” 

Albakry has graduated with a master’s degree in electrical engineering, an area of science that has fascinated him since he was a child. In particular he has been drawn to the field of machine learning and communication, where he intends to contribute to the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. “Ever since I was 15 years old,” he shares, “I’ve seen people talking about AI and how it’s the future of the world.” The fact that that there are few if any sectors of global industry that haven’t tapped into the potential of AI is the most appealing factor for Albakry, but the opportunity to study it in-depth did not present itself while he was in the U.S. At KAUST, however, under the supervision of Professor Ahmed Eltawil, he found the possibilities to be near limitless.






KAUST has embraced AI from its earliest days, and when he arrived, Albakry discovered that there were “opportunities in chemistry, in electrical engineering, in biomedical engineering,” but he found the most compelling showcase of the technology to be in gaming. “It’s amazing that with AI you can let a game play with itself,” Albakry explains, “until the computer knows how to play better than a professional player.” This genuine interest in the technology has been a powerful driver in his studies at KAUST, because he finds such joy in discussing it. While conversations with other students and faculty have proven to be a satisfactory means of demonstrating his knowledge, Albakry recalls long nights in the library to keep on top of his coursework. “I remember sleeping a lot in the library,” he shares, before jokingly adding, “and by the way, I have a spot there.”

Outside of his academic pursuits, Albakry became an Orientation Leader, helping new students upon their arrival at KAUST. “It’s amazing to see new students’ different cultures, and to talk to them and guide them,” he says; “that’s one of the best things you can do at KAUST.” He has also worked as an ambassador for the Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science and Engineering (CEMSE) division, helping potential students who are considering a move to KAUST. In 2021, Albakry was a volunteer at the commencement ceremony, at which he recalls eagerly wishing for the day he too would graduate. “Now it’s my turn,” he says with a smile, “and I can’t believe it.”

Albakry’s journey beyond KAUST is soon to begin with a position at top management and consulting firm, Bain and Company, in Riyadh. The skills he acquired at KAUST, including “teamwork, problem solving and communication,” are what helped him through their competitive recruitment process, and what will doubtless allow him to thrive. Albakry knows that he will be among countless KAUST graduates to contribute to Vision 2030, and Saudi Arabia’s relentless advance towards the future. “Who knows?” he ponders, “maybe I would be planning Vision 2040.”

It’s clear that the future is boundless for Albakry, and as a KAUST alumnus he intends to use his voice to ensure future KAUST students can realize their own potential just like he has. “I feel like students who graduate from KAUST are the leaders of the future,” he says, “and alumni are always kept involved in moving KAUST forward.” The sense of community Albakry has felt is unlikely to dissipate now that he’s graduated because of the strength of the alumni community. “[KAUST] won’t just forget us,” he concludes with certainty, “we will always have the benefits of graduating from KAUST, which is amazing.”