Two outstanding students from Saudi Arabia have been selected to join the 2023 global class of Rhodes Scholars. Tarfa Al-Shubayli and Ahmed Al-Sulami will join a total cohort of more than 100 Rhodes Scholars who will travel to Oxford in October next year.
The scholars-elect for Saudi Arabia demonstrated their energy and commitment to making a difference during a rigorous selection process, which included many rounds of reviews before the final interviews held in Riyadh with an international selection committee.
Al-Shubayli is an electrical engineer working for the Saudi Ministry of Energy. She completed her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Alfaisal University in 2021. During her undergraduate studies, she was a part of the Alfaisal Boeing Solar Car Team, winning several research competitions alongside her teammates. Al-Shubayli is also passionate about knowledge transfer and community creation, which led her to establish Al-Majlis Club — a free-thinking space for young Saudis to converse about philosophy, the arts, and society in the modern world. At Oxford, Al-Shubayli aims to study energy systems and their relationship with society in order to develop informed, insightful, and impactful innovation policies in energy.
Meanwhile, Al-Sulami is currently studying both physics and mechanical engineering at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. He has conducted research at Niels Bohr and H.C. Orsted Institutes at Copenhagen University, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the KFUPM Center for Integrative Petroleum Research, and the KFUPM Research Institute. This includes work on molecular dynamics, cosmology, femtochemistry, solar cells, chemical kinetics, laser sensing, meteoritic materials, computational quantum chemistry, spectroscopy, and materials synthesis. At Oxford, Al-Sulami hopes to study theoretical physics.
The Rhodes Scholarships are post-graduate awards supporting outstanding students, to enable two to three years of study, depending on the academic route taken, at the University of Oxford. The scholarship is not just a financial bursary, but a life-changing opportunity for exceptional young people with the potential to make a difference for good in the world.
The first endowed Saudi Arabia scholarship was established in 2018 with funding from Mohammed Al-Agil, with a second endowed scholarship added in 2020, with funding from Abdulrahman Al-Agil Sons. Both donors are co-founders of Jarir Bookstores. This funding was made with encouragement from the Saudi Ministry of Education, as education is one of the core elements of Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s ambitious blueprint for the future. The Rhodes Scholarship for Saudi Arabia will enable students across the Kingdom to fully develop their skills and knowledge in the fields that will help Saudi Arabia achieve its goals under Vision 2030.
Dr. Elizabeth Kiss, warden and CEO of the Rhodes Trust, said: “Four years ago and thanks to Mohammed Al-Agil’s generous gift, we launched the first Saudi Arabia endowed scholarship to ensure that more of world’s diversity would be reflected at Rhodes House. It has been a pleasure to meet the exceptional young scholars from Saudi Arabia selected in these four previous years and witness their enriching contribution to Rhodes House — cultural diversity is a core value of ours and one that we see benefit our cohort of scholars every day, as they learn from each other in profound ways. I am looking forward to welcoming these two inspirational and energetic young leaders — Tarfa and Ahmed — to Rhodes House next year.”
The applications for the next round of admission for the Rhodes Scholarship, in partnership with Mohammed Al-Agil and Abdulrahman Al-Agil Sons, for Saudi Arabia will open in June 2023.