Samar Fatany is a noted Saudi Arabian cultural reforms advocate, notably in the women’s and educational movements. The author of three books on topics of challenges of reform in the Kingdom, Samar contributed commentary for Saudi Gazette on a few distinguished students’ successes while studying under the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, including at Yale, Harvard, and Santa Clara Universities. Samar notes that the program is not only directed to enhance the personal lives of student participants but also to enrich the Kingdom in its current struggles with high unemployment rates and poor academic standards by educating its youth abroad.
“Hopefully, the program will address the high rate of unemployment in the Kingdom which is largely due to the poor academic standards of Saudi graduates and their lack of skills required by the job market. Graduates are hoping to qualify for job opportunities in government ministries, national corporations and the private sector as well as the newly established universities, and the industrial cities in all regions of the Kingdom.”
Through Samar’s exploration and recognition of these distinguished Saudi students in America, it is apparent that the American higher education system has not only enhanced the academic performance and potential for Saudi job market contribution, but a better understanding of differing cultures. She notes the stride of the youth to become educated and cultured is not the final step in reforming the educational systems in the Kingdom, but that the final steps need to be made in opening job opportunities in the public and private sectors, which will allow students to apply their acquired knowledge and skills in society.
“Our graduates are the future leaders of our country and they are our hope for progress and prosperity. Government departments and the private sector should pave the way for integrating young qualified graduates into the job market in order to enhance the standards of our workforce. It is time we allowed our young ones to achieve greater heights.”
This week SUSRIS is sharing insights and perspectives about the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, which supports the overseas studies of over 100,000 Saudi young men and women around the world. Other articles and interviews in this series are listed below.
King Abdullah Scholarship Students Deserve Our Encouragement and Support
Saudi students studying in the United States are excelling in their studies and research. The interaction between students and their professors and the exposure of our students to the American culture of work ethics and respect for knowledge are already having a very positive impact on their academic performance.
Global standards that are applied in the American higher education system and the exchange between our students and US scholars are important aspects that have energized the academic performance of our researchers and students. Indeed the future looks promising for many of the graduates who will soon be joining the Saudi workforce. This was quite evident during a meeting with some of the distinguished students pursuing their studies in renowned American universities like Yale and Harvard.
The King Abdullah International Scholarship Program includes many talented students whose innovative and creative research has won recognition from some of the more distinguished American universities. Among them are three students who are working on innovative research to help facilitate social and economic development in their country.
Hala Ridwan is among the most talented students. She is majoring in Political Science and History at Yale and is working on a civil code, “Almudawanah Code,” to serve women in her country who are abused and need to be protected by a codified law.
She began her research a year ago after she passed her methods of research class and learned how to conduct research and apply analytical studies to come up with new conclusions. Her professor recognized her talent in class and appointed her as research assistant. Ridwan attended a class in Islamic theology and worked on the re-interpretation of Islamic Shariah laws. She conducted a study in which she analyzed the difference between family laws in Islamic countries and used her findings to come up with a civil code that could be applied in her country. In Morocco, she says, they base their law on the Maliki school of thought and she hopes to apply it to the Hanbali school in order to adapt it to our laws and culture.
She is very optimistic and full of confidence in her ability to contribute to serve her sisters at home. She represents the new generation of Saudi students who are well qualified and eager to serve their community and contribute toward a better society.
Ahmed Al-Fares is a Fellowship student at Harvard. He scored the highest grade among all US Fellows in clinical molecular genetics. Harvard University awarded him a research grant to develop and design programs for DNA testing at the university. He has been working on his research since earning his earlier degree from McGill University in Montreal. Al-Fares spoke about the encouragement and support provided in Canadian and American universities with mentors and experts in the field providing full assistance with extreme flexibility that encourages researchers to excel. He consequently succeeded with his colleagues in detecting a gene with a new technology called next generation sequence. His research has been published in international journals. Al-Fares hopes that physicians and scientists will get the same kind of support so that they can conduct research that can save lives and help patients in his country.
Ahmed Al-Ghazi is a student at Santa Clara University. He is studying production mechanical systems design, and is working on an innovative project called “Goom“ to develop an apparatus that will enable the handicapped and elderly to move independently.
He is also producing a YouTube program to encourage young Saudis to be more innovative and to look for solutions to prevalent problems and find ways to use technologies that can serve the community. His idea came to him when he realized his grandmother’s frustration because she was always dependent on others to cater to her needs.
Al-Ghazi has been encouraged by his university teachers to continue his innovative project. He says that he was encouraged by leading investors and companies specialized in medical technology who showed an interest in funding his research. But he said that he is proud to be a part of the King Abdullah scholarship program and he is hoping to register his patent in his own country. He hopes his discovery will be on the market within a year or two.
The King Abdullah International Scholarship Program provides the means to pursue bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees as well as medical fellowships in reputable universities around the world. Students are directed to choose their majors according to market needs. Hopefully, the program will address the high rate of unemployment in the Kingdom, which is largely due to the poor academic standards of Saudi graduates and their lack of skills required by the job market. Graduates are hoping to qualify for job opportunities in government ministries, national corporations and the private sector as well as the newly established universities, and the industrial cities in all regions of the Kingdom.
Dr. Mohammed Al-Eissa, the Saudi Cultural Attaché in Washington, said that King Abdullah personally follows the progress of our students abroad, and that the Saudi Cultural Mission in the US has done a great job in looking after them and providing for their needs. The expectations of our graduates are very high and their country needs their expertise. However, it would be a real disappointment if they are not received with the same kind of encouragement and respect that America and the Saudi Cultural Mission have offered them.
Our graduates are the future leaders of our country and they are our hope for progress and prosperity. Government departments and the private sector should pave the way for integrating young qualified graduates into the job market in order to enhance the standards of our workforce. It is time we allowed our young ones to achieve greater heights. We must not allow bureaucracy and inefficiency to stand in the way of progress. The new generation will not accept it. Let us welcome our graduates with open arms and provide them with the opportunities they deserve.
Originally published in Saudi Gazette on June 2, 2012.
About Samar Fatany
SAMAR FATANY is Chief Broadcaster in the English section at Jeddah Broadcasting Station, which is affiliated to the Ministry of Culture and Information, Saudi Arabia. She has introduced many news, cultural, and religious programs. During a period of 28 years she has conducted several interviews with official delegations and prominent political personalities visiting the Kingdom. She has participated in the media coverage of many local and international conferences. She has made significant contributions in the fields of public relations and social awareness. She has also been involved in activities aiming at fighting extremism and enhancing women’s role in serving society. She is involved in promoting youth initiatives and supporting the empowerment of youth in Saudi Arabia today. She has authored three books, “Saudi Perceptions & Western Misconceptions,” “Saudi Women Towards a New Era,” and “Saudi Challenges & Reforms.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the US (SACM)
- The Saudi Cultural Mission’s New Headquarters – SUSRIS – Jul 25, 2012
- King Abdullah Scholarship Program: The Saudi Arabian Educational Youth Stride – SUSRIS – Jul 30, 2012
- Student Ambassador Building Bridges: A Conversation with Zeyad Al-Shammari – SUSRIS – Jul 31, 2012
- A New Vision of America: A Conversation with Mashhour Alqahtani – SUSRIS – Aug 1, 2012
- Saudi Students at Tennessee Tech: A Conversation with Dr. Robert Bell (Reprint) – SUSRIS – Aug 3, 2012
Related Material on SUSRIS:
- Business Forum: Education – Investing in Human Capital: Prince Faisal – SUSRIS – Jan 9, 2012
- Education and Development: Women as Agents of Change – SUSRIS – Jan 31, 2011
- Higher Education Opportunities for Women – SUSRIS – Mar 12, 2010
- Education System Undergoing Major Overhaul – SUSRIS – Apr 25, 2007
- The Time is Now in Saudi Arabia – Complete Interview – SUSRIS – Apr 27, 2006
- The Need for Education Reform – “Saudi System is the Problem” – SUSRIS – May 31, 2005