British universities receive Saudi funds

Updated 30 September 2012
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British universities receive Saudi funds

JEDDAH: Over the past decade, Saudi Arabia has been the largest source of donations from Islamic states and royal families to British universities, much of which is devoted to the study of Islam, the Middle East and Arabic literature.
A large share of this money went toward establishing Islamic study centers. In 2008, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal donated £8 million (SR 48.5 million) each to Cambridge and Edinburgh for this purpose, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily reported yesterday.
Oxford has been the largest British beneficiary of Saudi support. In 2005, Prince Sultan, the late crown prince, gave £2 million (SR 12 million) to the Ashmolean Museum. In 2001, the King Abdul Aziz Foundation gave £1 million (SR 6.1 million) to the Middle East Center.
There are many other donors. Oxford’s £75 million (SR 454.6 million) Islamic Studies Center was supported by 12 Muslim countries. Ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, gave £3.1 million (SR 18.8 million) to Cambridge to fund two posts, including a chair of Arabic.
Ruler of Sharjah, Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Qassimi, has supported Exeter’s Islamic studies center with more than £5 million (SR 30 million) since 2001. Trinity Saint David, part of the University of Wales, has received donations from the ruler of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
While Islamic studies are the most popular target for donors, support is certainly not restricted to the subject. The Saïd Business School at Oxford University was set up by Wafic Said, a Syrian-Saudi businessman, with a £23 million (SR 139.4 million) initial donation. 
Donations are not the only financial links to the Gulf. According to the Observatory for Borderless Higher Education, of the 200 branch campuses opened by universities around the world, 37 are in the UAE and 10 are in Qatar.
University College London has an archaeology campus in Qatar. Bolton, Heriot-Watt, the London Business School, Manchester Business School, Cass Business School and Middlesex have bases in Dubai or neighboring Ras Al-Khaimah, the newspaper said quoting the Financial Times.
These satellite campuses have two purposes: for countries that need to expand their higher education rapidly, it allows them to build capacity. For the university – if they can make them work – it allows them to tap potentially lucrative markets.


Excellent relationship with Saudi Arabia augurs well for Hajj, Umrah pilgrims from India

Updated 2 min 43 sec ago
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Excellent relationship with Saudi Arabia augurs well for Hajj, Umrah pilgrims from India

  • Last year, a record 175,000 of them traveled to Makkah for Hajj

NEW DELHI: Prominent Muslims in India have told Arab News the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has redefined their relationship with Riyadh.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to use the country’s fast-growing economy to attract more investment from Islamic nations, particularly Saudi Arabia.

Muslims make up 14 percent of India’s population. Last year, a record 175,000 of them traveled to Makkah for Hajj.

Zafarul Islam Khan, the chairman of the Delhi Minority Commission, said he hoped stronger bilateral ties would be an advantage for Muslims.

“Muslims in India go to Saudi for Hajj and Umrah, and a good relationship between New Delhi and Riyadh assures we will be treated well and given respect,” he said. 

He added that the crown prince had sparked a lot of curiosity with his reform measures — aimed at diversifying the economy and opening up the Kingdom culturally — and that people in India, particularly Muslims, were keen to see what deals and agreements would be signed during his visit.

“Muslims in India think very highly of the Saudi-Indian relationship,” said Khan. “The process of redefining the India and Saudi Arabia relationship started long ago. Now what is happening is the consolidation.”

Andalib Akhtar, a New Delhi-based journalist and editor of The Indian Awaz, described the crown prince’s visit as special.

“For any Muslim, it’s a dream to go to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj or Umrah,” she said. 

“It is also a destination for many Indians who seek employment.”

According to Pew Research Center data, India is the world’s top recipient of migrant remittances. Almost $69 billion was sent back to the country in 2015 and $10.5 billion of this sum was from Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Tasleem Ahmed Rehmani, from the Muslim Political Council of India, said Saudi Arabia’s reputation for promoting a conservative form of Islam had changed in recent years. 

“The crown prince’s reformist measures have been received positively in the country,” he told Arab News, adding that Saudi Arabia had previously been considered close to Pakistan but that it was now regarded as “a great ally and very dependable strategic partner.”

Shaukat Azam, a university student in the eastern Indian city of Patna, said Saudi Arabia should invest in modern schools in India rather than building more seminaries and mosques.

“The Saudis have been building madrasahs (seminaries) and mosques for a long time now. It is time that investment is made in constructing modern schools and colleges,” he told Arab News.

He also said Muslim families depended on earnings from their relatives working in the Kingdom, and that Saudi Arabia was a “savior” for many.

“I have heard a lot about the crown prince and I hope his visit will not only redefine his relations with the country but also with the Muslim population in general.”

Shabuddin Yaqub, a media professional, said Muslims in India owed a lot to Riyadh.

“Almost 200,000 people go for Hajj in Saudi Arabia every year, plus many go for Umrah,” he told Arab News. “Indian Muslims get good respect in Saudi Arabia.”