Saudi scholarships: An investment in the nation’s future

Saudi Scholarship students with Saudi officials during an event at the Saudi Embassy in Washington D.C. (SPA file photo)
Updated 22 July 2019

Saudi scholarships: An investment in the nation’s future

  • Kingdom provides financial assistance and fully paid tuition to all who qualify for scholarship
  • Many of the current recipients of scholarships are third-generation beneficiaries of the policy

JEDDAH: In an age when it is regarded as both essential and expensive, Saudi Arabia’s scholarship program provides a world-class education, ensuring financial assistance and paid tuition to all those who qualify. 

Beneficiaries of the program study abroad, returning with degrees and skills needed for the Kingdom’s development into a modern society.

In 1928, King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud ordered the first batch of students to be sent on scholarships to Egypt. A total of 14 went to complete their education in medicine, agriculture, engineering and law.

It was a crucial time for the young Kingdom, and the students contributed towards building the formative nation. Many became ministers, councillors, ambassadors and engineers in top positions, helping establish ministries and forming Saudi government entities.

The early Kingdom understood the importance of education as a vehicle for national development. Today, Saudi Arabia is among the leading countries measured by annual expenditure on education, with an impressive SR193 billion ($51.4 billion) allocated for Vision 2030 initiatives, as well as projects across the Kingdom, in 2019.

Success stories abound: Abdullah Tariki, the first Saudi oil minister appointed by King Saud and a co-founder of OPEC, graduated from Cairo University and later obtained his master’s degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Texas.

The first Saudi woman to obtain a government scholarship was Dr. Thoraya Obaid in 1963, who served as executive director of the United Nations Population Fund and undersecretary-general of the UN from 2000-2010. Success stories like these paved the way for other Saudi women to pursue higher education in the US, UK, Egypt and Lebanon and become prominent names in their fields, both within the Kingdom and abroad.

Many of the latest recipients of Saudi scholarships are third-generation beneficiaries, following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents.

With the launch of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program in 2005, droves of Saudi students began to explore new avenues of education beyond just the West and Middle East. As of 2018, more than 90,000 Saudi students study abroad. Of these, 850 are at the world’s top 10 universities, and 1,600 are medical residents and fellows.


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Photo exhibition recalls 90 years of Saudi-Lebanon ties

Updated 19 August 2019

Photo exhibition recalls 90 years of Saudi-Lebanon ties

  • Thousands of photos on display
  • Ties ‘rooted’ in history, says Kingdom’s ambassador

BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari and Lebanon’s Minister of Information Minister of Information Jamal Jarrah on Monday inaugurated a photography exhibition celebrating 90 years of bilateral relations.

The King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives and the Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Cultural Foundation provided the embassy in Lebanon with historical documents and photos for the exhibition, which was launched on World Photography Day. Some of the material dates back more than 90 years.

Bukhari said the exhibition’s content proved that the countries’ relations were rooted in history and recalled the words of King Abdul Aziz bin Abdulrahman, who said: “Lebanon is part of us. I protect its independence myself and will not allow anything to harm it.”

Jarrah, who was representing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, said: “We need this Arab embrace in light of the attacks targeting the Arab region and we still need the Kingdom’s support for Lebanon’s stability, because Lebanon is truly the center from which Arabism originated.”

The exhibition starts with a document appointing Mohammed Eid Al-Rawaf as the Kingdom’s consul in Syria and Lebanon. It was signed by King Abdul Aziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Faisal Al-Saud in 1930 and states that the consul’s residence is in Damascus and that his mission is to “promote Saudi merchants, care for their affairs and assist them with their legal and commercial interests.”

Black and white pictures summarize milestones in the development of bilateral relations, while others depict key visits and meetings between leaders and dignitaries.

“The exhibition demanded great efforts because the pieces were not found at one single location,” former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told Arab News. “Circulating this activity in the Kingdom’s embassies in numerous countries is a great step and has pushed the Lebanese Ministry of Information to benefit from this archive. The Lebanese people remember the important positions the Kingdom has taken over the year to support their independence and sovereignty and in hard times.”

Lebanon, particularly Beirut, is a hit with Saudi travelers although the Kingdom had been advising citizens since 2011 to avoid the country, citing Hezbollah’s influence and instability from the war in neighboring Syria. 

But the easing of restrictions since February has led to a surge in Saudis heading to Lebanon.

Riyadh earlier this year released $1 billion in funding and pledged to boost Lebanon’s struggling economy. Another sign of warming ties was an anniversary event marking the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father that featured Saudi Royal Court adviser Nizar Al-Aloula as a keynote speaker.

“The exhibition highlights the unique model of Lebanese-Arab relations that should be taught in diplomatic institutes, starting with the Lebanese Foreign Ministry,” former minister Marwan Hamadeh told Arab News. “Over the course of 90 years, we have had brotherly ties and political support for independence, freedom, growth, economy and culture and then the Taif Accord (which ended the Lebanese Civil War). Even after that, when Lebanon engaged in military adventures, the Kingdom was there to help with reconstruction and we are proud of these relations.”

Highlights include a recording of King Faisal telling President Charles Helou about the need to strengthen “brotherhood in the face of the aggression targeting our countries without respecting the sanctity of holy sites and international, human and moral norms to extend its influence not only in the region but across the world.”

There are also photos from a recent meeting that brought together King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Lebanese officials. 

An old broadcast recording can be heard saying that the “tragedy of the Lebanese civil war can only be ended by affirming the Lebanese legitimacy and preserving its independence and territorial integrity.”

The exhibition is on at Beit Beirut, which is located on what used to be the frontline that divided the city during the civil war.