Saudi Fund for Development Officially Inaugurates the King Abdullah Campus of Azad Jammu and Kashmir University in Pakistan.
Pakistan (Muhammad Yasir)
The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) officially inaugurated today the King Abdullah Campus of Azad Jammu and Kashmir University (UAJK) in Pakistan. The King Abdullah campus was funded through a generous USD $90 million grant provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through SFD.
The project was inaugurated by SFD’s Director General of Asia Operations, Dr. Saud bin Ayed Al-Shammari, in the presence of the President of the State of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, H.E. Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry. Also attending the inauguration ceremony was the Chairman of the Higher Education Commission, Professor Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Professor Dr. Muhammad Kaleem Abbasi, alongside other officials from both sides.
The King Abdullah Campus is a cutting-edge facility that hosts 15 academic departments, as well as administration blocks, accommodation, a library, a mosque, a state-of-the-art auditorium, and other essential amenities. Over 10,000 students, faculty members, and employees are expected to benefit from the new campus, which will offer cutting-edge research and educational opportunities, while helping to support the sustainable socio-economic development of Pakistan. The new campus will also contribute towards helping to realize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG4, Quality Education, SDG5, Gender Equality, SDG8 Decent work and Economic growth, and SDG11, Sustainable Cities and Local Communities.
On this occasion, the President of the State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, H.E. Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry, said: “Amidst the echoes of history, the benevolence of a great nation remains etched in the hearts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. As the President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Chancellor of the University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, I humbly acknowledge the pivotal role played by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, led by the visionary King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, in the wake of the calamitous earthquake of 2005. The people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir will forever cherish the profound impact of the substantial financial assistance bestowed upon us, which not only rebuilt our beloved university but also sowed the seeds of an unyielding friendship between Saudi Arabia and Kashmir. A bond destined to transcend time and generations, symbolizing the epitome of humanity and cooperation in the face of adversity.”
On his part, the SFD Director General of Asia Operations, Dr. Saud bin Ayed Al-Shammari, said: “SFD’s contributions towards the reconstruction of the King Abdullah Campus, following the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, came from the Fund’s commitment to supporting Pakistan’s sustainable development through the development of social infrastructure. This project is a result of the close developmental relations, and successful longstanding partnership, which has existed between SFD and Pakistan for more than 47 years.“
Prof. Dr. Muhammad Kaleem Abbasi, Vice Chancellor of Azad Jammu and Kashmir University, also expressed his profound excitement, and stated: “In the face of challenges, the government of Saudi Arabia has exemplified unwavering support, emerging as a beacon of hope by generously contributing through the Saudi Fund for Development to construct the King Abdullah Campus—an innovative and state-of-the-art educational facility—inaugurated today. Symbolizing an enduring bond of brotherhood between Saudi Arabia and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, this campus stands as a precious gift.”
SFD has a long history of supporting Pakistan’s development. Since 1976, SFD has financed 16 projects in the country, providing 18 soft loans estimated at more than USD $1.1 billion. These projects have been launched and implemented to support a range of sectors, including water, health, energy, transportation, social infrastructure and other sectors. Additionally, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also provided a grant— estimated at over USD $500 million — to implement 23 development projects to help Pakistan overcome the damages caused by the 2005 earthquake. Other financial support from SFD has included a deposit supporting the country’s budget, amounting to USD $3 billion, alongside financing export credit and insurance, and the import of crude petroleum derivatives, amounting to USD $5.44 billion.
The inauguration of the King Abdullah Campus is a major milestone in the development of the University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. It is a symbol of the strong friendship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and a testament to the commitment of the SFD to supporting development projects in Pakistan and other developing countries around the world.