We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States help build stronger ties. (AN photo)
Updated 19 September 2018
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We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

  • We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States: US Public Affairs Counselor in KSA

RIYADH: Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States “help build stronger ties between the two countries and bring them closer together,” according to Brian Shott, the new US Public Affairs Counselor in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking at a reception to welcome him at the US embassy in Riyadh on September 18, he said: “One of the main things we do is we try to share aspects of the United States and of American culture, but we also learn from Saudis and Saudi culture.” 

In her opening speech, the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Martina Strong also highlighted the enduring relationship between the two countries, saying: “Tonight is a celebration, a celebration of a friendship that has extended over many, many decades.”

Shott, who previously served in Morocco, Cairo and Baghdad, will be in Saudi Arabia for the next two years, during which he will promote educational and cultural exchanges.

“There are some real opportunities here and we have been fortunate enough to be able take advantage of partnerships with Saudi organizations and Saudi agencies, whether it is the General Authority for Culture or the Ministry of Education,” he said.

“We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States.”

Meanwhile, the reception also served as a farewell to Robin Yeager, the cultural attache in Riyadh. She said that it had been a “very dynamic time to be in Saudi Arabia. It has been a pleasure and an honor to be here at a time when I get to know first-hand the future that Saudis are trying to build.”

The night that women were were given the right to drive, she said she went out and saw the “thrill on their faces.” To assist with empowerment and other progressive policies, embassy staff work on social issues and provide leadership training for women’s groups, she said.

“It is beautiful because they take something that an American expert talks to them about and they turn it into the Saudi way to approach it,” she added. “It’s not that we are changing things; it’s that we are giving them tools, so they can build what they want to build.”


Saudi Arabia’s Education Ministry pumps $500m into public school projects

Updated 58 min 24 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s Education Ministry pumps $500m into public school projects

  • 30 institutions for students in Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh will be built

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is spending more than SR500 million on building education “complexes” that will serve 90,000 students in major urban centers.

The Education Ministry, represented by the government-owned Tatweer Buildings Co., on Tuesday, signed an agreement with Al-Mabani Real Estate Co. to build 30 institutions for students in Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh.

The agreements include a short-term plan to establish 10 complexes across the three cities with a combined intake of 30,000 students. These will cost around SR800 million ($213 million) and are expected to be completed in 2022. There is also a long-term plan to set up 20 complexes for 60,000 students costing SR600 million. The complexes will be at locations approved by local authorities. 

FASTFACT

 

•The education complexes will serve the needs of 90,000 students in the Kingdom.

•Initially, 10 complexes will be built in Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh at a cost of SR800 million.

•The first phase will be completed in 2022.

•In the later phase, 20 more complexes are planned at a cost of SR600 million.

Tatweer CEO Fahd Al-Hammad said the agreement represented opportunities for investors interested in building and operating high-quality education infrastructure with “state-of-the-art designs.”

Al-Mabani’s managing director, Abdulrahman Al-Ahmed, said the agreement supported the ministry’s strategy to develop the public sector schools environment through the establishment of complexes.

The agreement was signed under the patronage of Undersecretary of the Minister of Education Dr. Saad Al-Fuhaid and in the presence of Mohammed bin Eid Al-Otaibi, director general of education at the ministry.

Earlier this year, Education Minister Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh said Saudi Arabia was making efforts to improve the quality of its education sector’s infrastructure by encouraging public-private partnerships.