King Abdullah Scholarship Program opens invitations to students

Updated 15 July 2012

King Abdullah Scholarship Program opens invitations to students

The online registration for scholarships at the King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP) for the year 2012 begins July 21 and ends Aug. 3.
In an announcement in local papers yesterday, the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) said applicants should meet the terms and conditions.
The basic conditions for the eighth phase include that an applicant should be a Saudi national; the age must be in accordance with the stated condition in every study degree; the year of obtaining degree should be in line with the stated age, and the applicant should be healthy and fit. Applicants cannot be a government employee or hold an accredited certificate from a non-Saudi institution.
Saudi women must be accompanied by a mahram (a legal guardian) to travel and to stay with her until she finishes the course so she can attend the classes physically, full-time and stay in the place where she is studying.
The program includes the following courses: medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, applied medical sciences (nursing, radiology, health sciences, medical laboratories, medical technology), engineering, computers, basic sciences (mathematics, physics, chemistry), nano-technology, law, accounting, e-commerce, insurance, finance, and marketing.
Launched in 2005, KASP is the largest scholarship program in the history of Saudi Arabia. With more than 60,000 students in over 30 countries worldwide, KASP has ambitious objectives for its graduates.
King Abdullah issued a royal decree on May 25, 2005 launching this program for a period of five years to achieve these aims. The program began by sending a group of students to study in the US. Its scope was then broadened to include a number of advanced countries in diverse fields of specialization to meet the needs of the labor market in the Kingdom.
After the program completed its initial five stages, the ministry was convinced it served a good purpose. The ministry requested King Abdullah to renew it for a further five-year period, beginning in 2010. The King approved this request in February. 2010. This decision would enable more Saudi men and women to realize their ambitions and aspirations, while supplying the government and private sector with highly qualified individuals.
The program seeks to accommodate thousands of graduates from secondary schools and universities to study abroad in various specializations in accordance with the national needs of the local, regional and international economic trends in the labor market.
Through the program, Saudi students go to the best universities in the world to pursue higher studies in their respective fields.
The number of specializations and the number of students have been identified according to the needs of the ministries, national institutions and the private sector in line with the requirements of the labor market and those of the regions, governorates, universities and the industrial cities.
The program is mainly concerned with the rehabilitation of the Saudi youth to play their role in development in various fields of the public and private sectors.
The program aims to send qualified Saudis to study in the best universities in the world, thus promoting a high level of academic and professional standard through the scholarship program. Through the program it will exchange scientific educational and cultural expertise with those universities, build qualified and professional Saudi cadres in a working environment, and develop their level of vocational professionalism.
The top 10 host countries for KASP students are the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Malaysia, France, India, China and Germany.
All students sponsored by KASP are provided with the following benefits during their study period abroad: full tuition coverage, academic supervision, monthly stipend for living expenses, full medical and dental insurance, annual round trip tickets, financial incentives for a high GPA. Dependents of the students receive the same benefits.

Tearing down the wall: Saudi restaurants adjust to the abolishment of gender segregation

Updated 28 January 2020

Tearing down the wall: Saudi restaurants adjust to the abolishment of gender segregation

  • New law urges restaurants to remove segregation in entrance and separate seating arrangements
  • Many restaurants have already begun to implement the law, but others stubbornly refuse

RIYADH: Saudi diners are still chewing over the Kingdom’s move to end the long-standing legal requirement for restaurants to have separate entrances for males and families.

As a result of reforms — involving 103 rules and regulations, manuals, models, and standards aimed at making life easier for citizens and visitors — men and women no longer have to enter restaurants through separate doors.

Naif Al-Otaibi, general manager of public relations and media at the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, said gender-segregation was now a matter of choice.

“It’s optional. We did not specify the number of entry points, so the investor is free to have multiple entry points and segregate (males from females) in their restaurant,” he told Arab News.

Many restaurants and cafes in Saudi Arabia, including American coffee chain Starbucks, typically have separate sections for families (women on their own or accompanied by men) and males.

The AlShaya Group, operator of Starbucks, The Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang’s among others, has said it will end gender segregation in stores and eateries that were opened before the new rule came into effect.

“We at Alshaya are planning to transform the old stores’ designs following the new desegregation law, but that will take place over the course of the next two years,” the company told Arab News.

An employee at one of Starbucks’ gender-segregated outlets said maintenance contractors had recently conducted an inspection of the site with a view to commencing remodeling work. “They will take out the wall that separates the male area from the families section,” the staff member told Arab News.

“They will also remove the signs at the entry points that say, ‘families’ and ‘males’ and merge the two separate sections.”

Just a few years ago all of this was unthinkable in a very different Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom had a strict policy of not allowing women to dine in a restaurant without a mahram (male guardian). They would be turned away if they did not comply with the rule.

Recalling an incident that happened 20 years ago, “D.K.,” a 37-year-old Saudi woman who wished to remain anonymous, said she found herself inside one of the white vehicles belonging to the religious police whose official job description was the “prevention of vice and promotion of virtue.”

She had been dining with her friends at a McDonald’s restaurant without a mahram.

But D.K. is amazed by the changes that have taken place since, and said the ending of gender segregation in restaurants was a huge step forward for the Kingdom.

She praised King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for advancing women’s empowerment by increasing their employment opportunities, enhancing the quality of their social life and expanding their personal freedoms.

While these steps might seem unimpressive to the average person in the West, cumulatively they were opening up the Kingdom in a big way, D.K. told Arab News, though she admitted that some conservative sections of Saudi society still wished to see the continuation of gender segregation in restaurants.

However, most restaurant owners were eager to move with the changing times.

Al-Amin Mahmoud, a 35-year-old father-of-four from Madinah, takes his family every weekend to a different restaurant. While in Jeddah on a short vacation, he faced a problem when he discovered that some restaurants did not have separate sections for males and families.

“I respect that decision, but I did not feel comfortable. I knew that the decision had been implemented. However, for me, having grown up in a conservative family and society, it does not suit me,” he told Arab News.

Father-of-three Habib Saleh, 41, said that businesses had the option to accept or reject the gender-desegregation decision.

“This is akin to the decision to ban sheesha from restaurants. Many people objected, saying smoking sheesha was the main reason they frequented the restaurants in the first place. Some restaurants who implemented the rule naturally lost regular customers, which affected their revenue,” he added.

Saleh pointed out that when considering applying the new rules, some business owners faced the same dilemma of having to be prepared to lose some customers.

“It will take time before people get used to it. Of course, people will either reject it or be suspicious about it at first. And we have to keep in mind that some of the people who are objecting to this decision do not mind eating in mixed restaurants when they are abroad. So, there is some amount of contradiction. 

“We have to remember that the segregation rule was in force for more than 30 years, so don’t think that people will accept it quickly,” he said.

For his part, Abdulrahman Al-Harbi, an architect, believes implementing the desegregation law will improve the bottom lines of restaurants in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Harbi said not only would managing a restaurant become easier but construction bills would also shrink. “I prefer open spaces. A good designer can provide clever privacy solutions to customers in different ways. 

“If we want to call ourselves a civilized society, we must get used to a mixed-gender environment,” he added.

Abdul Aziz Al-Qahtani, the owner of Bicicleta Coffee Shop in Riyadh, said that since opening a new branch in the capital’s U Walk, only one cashier counter was required.

“We had customers coming in and asking for separate sections, but we have to keep pace with development,” he said. “This change in the law has reduced costs in many areas for us. Now we don’t need two cashiers to serve a family section and a male section.

“We also don’t have to have large spaces any more to be able to divide it up into two sections.”