Home About Academics Admissions Research & Innovation Centers On Campus Contact Us
Master of Science in Desert Cultivation Technologies & Soilless Culture



The combination of water scarcity, poor soils, hyper-arid environment and projected climate change impact in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCCCs) constrain local agriculture production in meeting the food demand of the current and growing population. This has raised serious concerns and placed food security as a goal to achieve in most GCC countries. There are various options to achieve food security, including but not limited to local agriculture intensification using technological innovations. Food, energy and water are strongly linked especially in this region. Therefore, the GCC countries have placed water, energy, food, environmental sustainability, and climate change as top priority issues towards achieving sustainable development goals.

The program focuses on these issues by making them core areas of teaching and research to train students to face these challenges. The program is strongly linked to other programs in the Department of Natural Resources & Environment, in an interdisciplinary educational and research tracks. The high number of specialized and electives in the curriculum allows students the flexibility to develop an academic program compatible with their personal interests.


A sustained agricultural sector that overcomes impediments and limitations of natural resources, adopts advanced technologies and emphasizes environmental sustainability while contributing to food security and economy in the GCC countries.


To enhance the capacity of the GCC countries with highly qualified post-graduates to take leadership role in confronting regional and global issues emanating from food-water-environment sustainability issues through integrating challenging interdisciplinary courses with research skills on advanced agricultural technologies and professional teaching methods.


To support the efforts of the GCC countries in achieving a sustainable and efficient agricultural sector contributing effectively to food security in the region, through education, applied research, and training, by bridging the scientific and technological gap for the nationals of the GCC working in the field of agriculture management, planning and education. 


To build the capacity of the GCC countries in confronting the challenging food security and agricultural sustainability issues through the provision of graduates with;

  • Fundamental understanding of current and future constraints facing agricultural production in the GCC countries.
  • Knowledge and skills to identify and address critical issues of crop production in the GCC countries. 
  • Ability to conduct research directed towards problem-based solutions and better understanding of issues facing farming techniques under complex food-water-energy interlinkages.
  • Technical skills for sustainable land and water resources management. 
  • Knowledge required to effectively manage irrigation and drainage techniques to support sustainable agricultural production.


  1. Develop technical and Knowledge-based skills in the area of agriculture and related fields of study.
  2. Apply knowledge and technical skills to identify, analyze, and solve problems and articulate conclusions. 
  3. Develop communication skills to communicate with the target audiences effectively. 
  4. Appreciate regional and local agricultural cultures and traditions. 
  5. Enhance the availability of qualified researchers and leaders for the agricultural business and entrepreneurship.

​Program Outline

Master of Science      

The Master of Science is a two-year program organized in 4 semesters (16 weeks duration each). Department core courses (minimum 5 credit hours), program specialized courses (minimum 16 credit hours) and elective courses (maximum 7 credit hours). A thesis equivalent to 8 credit hours must be completed, approved by the examination committee of internal and external examiners before the final oral evaluation. The courses selection and research project is determined through consultation with supervision committee and approved by the Department Academic Committee and Graduate Collage Council.


The Diploma program is a one year program to be completed in two semesters with a total of 28 minimum credit hours comprised of 5 credit hours Department Core courses, minimum 14 credit hours of program specialized courses and maximum 5 credit hours of elective courses in addition to a Diploma project equivalent to 4 credit hours. Diploma students shall obtain a minimum cumulative of 2 out of 4 GPA to proceed for Master of Science Degree with additional 4 credit hours that may be a combination of specialized and elective courses as long as the rule of minimum 16 credit hours of program specialized courses and maximum 7 credit hours of elective courses is observed.

The specialized courses offered in the third semester are also available for Master students as recommended by the supervision committee and the approval of the Department Academic Committee. Elective courses can be selected from the sphere of Technological Studies upon recommendation by the supervision Committee and approval of the Department's Academic Committee.   


Outline of Courses (STUDY PLAN)


1. First Semester Department Core Courses

Course codeFirst Semester Course TitlesDiplomaMasters
GS 500Islamic Culture00
GST 502English Language00
GSTS 510Scientific Writing11
NREES 620Climatology & Climate Change22
Total hours of Department Courses33


2. First Semester Program Specialized Courses

Course codeCourse NameCredit Hours
NREDF 533Soil Science33
NREDF 631Agroclimatology & Crop Water Requirements33
NREDF 620Greenhouse Design & Management22
NREDF  5*9Lab and Field Case Studies22
NREDF  521Crop Production22
NREDF 510 Seminar11
NREDF  531Organic Farming33
NREDF  524Integrated Pest Management22
NREDF  525Waste Water Use in Agriculture22
NREDF  632Integrated Land Management33
First Semester Total Credit hours (Department Core Courses)33
First Semester Total Credit Hours (Specialized & Elective Courses)1111
First Semester Total Credit Hours1414

*NREDF 5*9/6*9 Lab, Field & Case Studies the * represent 1 to 4 credit hours (not to exceed 4 credit of total credit hours taken towards a degree. It can be registered as NREDF 519, NREDF 529, NREDF 539, NREDF 549, NREDF 619, NREDF 629, NREDF 639 & NREDF 649.

3. Second Semester Department Core Courses

Course codeSecond Semester Course TitlesCredit Hours
Diploma Master
GSTS 520Research Methods22
GST 501Computer Applications00
Total hours of Department Courses22

3. Second Semester Department Specialized Courses

Course codeSecond Semester Course TitlesCredit Hours
Diploma Master
NREDF 530Management of Saline & Sodic Soils33
NREDF 527Water Saving Techniques in Agriculture22
NREDF 523Design & Analysis of Experiments22
NREDF 6*9Lab & Field Case Studies22
NREDF 534Soilless & Hydroponics Agriculture33
NREDF 610Seminar11
NREDF 532Soil Fertility & Fertilizers33
NREDF 633Plant Ecophysiology33
NREDF 630Agricultural Landscape33
Second Semester Total Credit hours (Department Core Courses)22
Second Semester Total Minimum Credit Hours (Specialized & Elective Courses)812
Diploma Project4-
Total Minimum Credit Hours for the First Semester1414
Total Credit Hours for the First Year2828


Third Semester Department Specialized Courses

Course codeThird Semester Course TitlesCredit Hours
NREDF 526Water Harvesting Techniques for Agricultural Production2
NREDF 520Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness2
NREDF 522Desertification2

Forth Semester is devoted to research and thesis completion.

Admission Requirements

    1. The  applicant  must be a citizen of one of the GCC countries or a citizen of an Arab country and is resident in one of the GCC countries.
    2. Nomination/No objection letter from the Ministry of Higher Education of the applicants' country (GCC).
    3. A graduate from a university recognized by AGU with a minimum of overall average of "Very Good" to be considered for the Master of Science and "Good" to be considered for the Diploma.
    4. Evidence of adequate proficiency in the English language (Minimum TOFEL score of 500 or IELTS of 5.5).
    5. A satisfactory personal interview.

Graduation Requirements

Generally, any graduate student must satisfy the rule of minimum 5 credit hours of Department Core courses, minimum 16 credit hours of program specialized courses and maximum 7 credit hours of elective courses.

Master of Science

  • Successfully complete a minimum of 28 credit hours of course work.
  • Obtain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 out of 4.0.
  • Carry out a research work and successfully defend a written thesis (8 credit hours).


  • Successfully complete a minimum of 28 credit hours of course work.
  • Obtained a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 out of 4.0.
  • Satisfactorily completed a Diploma project of 4 credit hours approved by the Department Academic committee.

Program Faculty

Dr. Abdel Hadi Abdel Wahab; Associate Professor of Water Relations & Irrigation Water Management.


  • NREDF 5*9/6*9 Lab, Field Case Studies (*= 1-4Cr): These are special cases relevant to the student area of research or specialization that are not covered by courses. It is mainly directed to allow the supervisor to develop certain experiences and computational skills towards fulfilling the main study objectives. It can be assigned to an individual or a group of students. It shall not exceed 4 Cr. Hr of total hours taken towards a degree.
  • NREDF 510/614 Seminar (1Cr) (110): A student may research or investigate a topic, and exchange results with other students through the presentation, reports, and discussions under the supervision of a faculty member
  • NREDF 520 Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness (2Cr) (220): elements of agricultural production and distribution, the interdependence of various sectors within the production chain, production costs, supply and price determination; competition, and marketing and innovation.
  • NREDF 521 Crop Production (2Cr) (220): Basic knowledge for the production of different crops with emphasis on vegetable, ornamental medicinal and forage crops. Methods of land preparation, application of fertilizers and irrigation water and selection of suitable varieties in addition to crop harvesting and post-harvesting treatments.
  • NREDF 522 Desertification (2Cr) (220): Definition of desertification and desert encroachment. Understanding the desertification phenomenon through various case studies on the degradation of natural resources and agricultural production systems. With an emphasis on indicators of desertification and its effects on the environment and socioeconomic dimensions. Desert combat methods, in addition to strategies and plans to combat desertification from an institutional point of view and discussion of medium environmental impact assessment results on the desertification phenomenon.
  • NREDF 523 Design & Analysis of Experiments (2Cr) (220): Student learns the basic concepts of experimental design with emphasis on the significant designs: completely randomized designs, randomized block designs, factorial design and correlation and regression. Hands-on statistical software applications with emphasis on JMP software. A student should be able to choose the appropriate design statistically analyze the data using JMP software.
  • NREDF 524 Integrated Pest Management (2Cr) (220): Definition of integrated pest management, major insect pests in GCC region, biological control methods, pesticide types, mode of action, and control rates, resistant plant varieties, the role of crop rotation and soil management.
  • NREDF 525 Waste Water Reuse in Agriculture (2Cr) (220): Definition of wastewater, wastewater resources, constituents, wastewater quality indicators, gray water, black water, wastewater treatment, bioremediation, wastewater reuse in agriculture and landscaping.
  • NREDF 526 Water Harvesting Techniques for Agricultural Production (2Cr) (220): Definition of water harvesting, Macro and micro-water harvesting techniques, soil physical properties affecting WH, design, and maintenance of WH systems.
  • NREDF 527 Water Saving Techniques in Agriculture (2Cr) (220): Improvement of irrigation methods under desert soils and climate and the determination of irrigation efficiencies using deficit irrigation and the effects of water deficit at different growth stages in addition to the relationship between the evapotranspiration deficit and yields with methods of reducing water conveyance losses at farm level.
  • NREDF 530 Management of Saline/Sodic Soils (3Cr) (321):  saline soils, sodic soils, their definition and extent, the effect of salinity and sodicity on plants, salinity tolerance in plants, reclamation of saline and sodic soils
  • NREDF 531 Organic Farming (3Cr) (321): Understanding soil fertility, essential nutrients for plant growth, diagnoses of nutrient deficiencies in plants, organic fertilizers and application methods, nutrient use efficiency in dry environments. Introduction to Organic Farming, Integrated Farm Management Systems, Organic Soil Management, and Crop Nutrition, Selection and application of appropriate pest and disease management practices for both animal and plant production on an organic farm, Design an appropriate system for organic production of cattle and sheep, certification of organic farms.
  • NREDF 532 Soil Fertility & Fertilizers (3Cr) (330): Understanding soil fertility, essential nutrients for plant growth, diagnoses of nutrient deficiencies in plants, fertilizers, fertilizer application methods, nutrient use efficiency in dry environments.
  • NREDF 533 Soil Science (3Cr) (321): Definition of soils, soil-forming factors, factors affecting soil formation. Soil physical and chemical properties, desert soils with special reference to GCC soils. Management of soils. In addition to hazards of soil pollution and management for sustainable production as well as its importance in supporting biological diversity.
  • NREDF 534 Soil-less & Hydroponics Agriculture (3Cr) (321): Definition of soilless culture, systems of hydroponic production, nutrient solutions, management of crops in the greenhouse, greenhouse structures, management of irrigation and nutrient systems.
  • NREDF 540 Diploma Project (4Cr): After successful completion of at least 24 credit hours the student is expected to prepare and present a project that reflects his competence in theoretical and practical knowledge, utilization of scientific references, application of available technologies and the ability to scientifically discuss and present his findings.
  • NREDF 610 Seminar (1Cr) (110): A student may research or investigate a topic, and exchange results with other students through the presentation, reports, and discussions under the supervision of a faculty member
  • NREDF 620 Greenhouse Design and Management (2Cr) (220): Types of greenhouses and its management. Main features and considerations for greenhouse design. The scientific basis of evaporative cooling systems and its suitability under desert climate. Automation of internal temperature, light, irrigation water, and Fertigation.
  • NREDF 630 Agricultural Landscape (3Cr) (321): landscaping classes introduce students to landscaping terminology, garden design, horticultural skills, and landscape construction. Students learn about plant selection for different conditions, soil preparation, irrigation systems, and landscape drawing and design
  • NREDF 631 Agro-climatology and Crop Water Requirements (3Cr) (321): Basic concepts about the main weather parameters that affect crop production. Reliability of climatic data. CropWat and ClimWat programs for the estimation of reference crop evapotranspiration. Methods and instruments for the measurement of the main weather parameters. Determination of the length of the season and effective rainfall. Evaporation from a free water surface, wet soil, and evapotranspiration as affected by weather parameters.
  • NREDF 632 Integrated Land Management (3Cr) (321): Strategically planned approach to managing and reducing the human-caused footprint on the public land. Managing public lands and associated natural recourses, reclamation of disturbed lands.
  • NREDF 633 Plant Ecophysiology (3Cr) (321): is concerned largely with mechanisms of how plants sense and respond to environmental change and how the responses to highly variable conditions are coordinated with one another, and how their collective effect on plant growth and gas exchange can be understood.
  • NREDF 680 Master Thesis (8Cr): After successful completion of at least 28 credit hours the student is expected to prepare and present a Thesis/Dissertation that reflects his understanding of the subject matter, competence in theoretical and practical knowledge, utilization of scientific references, application of available technologies, scientific contribution to the subject matter in terms of analysis understanding and development. The ability to scientifically present his findings formulates conclusions and recommendations.