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King Saud University (KSU) has launched a Nobel laureates programme to help strengthen the science and technology sector in Saudi Arabia.

KSU's Nobel laureates programme was announced last week (10 September). It is the second contribution of laureates to science development in the Middle East this year (see Laureates hope for Nobel peace with Middle East fund).

The eleven Nobel Prize laureates are five scientists from the fields of medicine, physics and chemistry (Gunter Blobel, David Gross, Louis Ignarro Anthony Leggett and Richard Schrock) as well as six economists, including Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh.

The programme is part of KSU's research chair programme, funded by individuals, companies, banks and public and private institutions.

Under the programme, the Nobel laureates will offer their services to KSU as visiting academics, using their knowledge and expertise to enhance the university's research.

Fields such as the treatment and prevention of diseases like cancer and diabetes, as well as water desalination, energy, nutrition, drug development, nanotechnology and biotechnology will be covered by the programme.

The laureates will also contribute to the consultancy work of the University's King Abdullah Research and Consulting Institute.

They will also sit on science policy committees, providing advice for setting up sustainable development programmes as well as help to mobilise support for research and development centres and start-up companies in the university.

Abdel Wahab Rajab Hashem, a professor of microbial pollution at KSU, told SciDev.Net that "establishing a close and active alliance with Nobel laureates will have a direct effect in promoting scientific research and economic development in the country".

Hashem added that this unique and pioneering programme will also significantly support to, and collaboration with, leading scientific research centres that are important to both Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.