The food system, both in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and globally, is one of the most unsustainable of all human activities, consuming 66% of global water supplies and 30% of global energy supplies, occupying 50% of all land used by humans, and emitting 33% of all greenhouse gases (GHG). These practices must change, locally and globally, and such change must be led by data-driven science and logical, future-focused innovation. KAUST is perfectly positioned to lead this drive for KSA, the region and the world.


The 10-year goal of the Center for Desert Agriculture (CDA) is to study, test and implement safe, secure and sustainable crop production systems for KSA. These systems will produce and deliver fresh, nutritious and high-value crops to the people of KSA with a reduced environmental footprint (e.g., less water, fertilizer, pesticides, and GHG emissions), thereby promoting healthy lifestyles and a clean environment for generations to come. The CDA’s goals align directly with many of the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals and KSA’s Vision 2030 for national transformation.


To accomplish this ambitious task, the CDA will take a multi-pronged approach to develop innovative field and greenhouse production systems for both crop plants and algae through 1) directed and applied research, 2) graduate education, 3) extension, outreach and community engagement, and 4) government, industrial and academic partnerships.