Saudi students in Poland navigate new world to return as doctors

Saudi women who graduated from Polish universities in 2023 pose at the Saudi Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, on June 22, 2023. (AN Photo by Natalia Laskowska)
Saudi women who graduated from Polish universities in 2023 pose at the Saudi Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, on June 22, 2023. (AN Photo by Natalia Laskowska)
Short Url
Updated 05 July 2023
Follow

Saudi students in Poland navigate new world to return as doctors

Saudi women who graduated from Polish universities in 2023 pose at the Saudi Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, on June 22, 2023.
  • In 2023, women make up over half of Saudi graduates from Medical University of Warsaw
  • This means Vision 2030 ‘simply works,’ says Kingdom’s envoy in Poland

WARSAW: When she left the place she had known all her life to spend the next seven years in Poland, Danah Al-Abduljabbar knew that being thousands of miles away from home would not be easy, but she had a dream — and it was just beginning to come true.

It was the summer of 2016 when she left her home in Al-Qatif, eastern Saudi Arabia, to study at the Medical University of Warsaw.

One of the largest cities in Eastern Europe, the Polish capital was for her quieter than expected, which somehow made it feel comfortable, especially as everything else was so new and overwhelming.

She was only 17 at the time, “too young to open a bank account or sign an apartment lease,” which she remembers frightened her a bit, but she was not alone. Her father was in Warsaw too, making sure nothing would hinder her plans.




Danah Al-Abduljabbar, left, Tahirah Al-Garrous and Noor Al-Awami pose during their graduation ceremony at the Medical University of Warsaw, Poland, on June 19, 2023. (AN Photo by Danah Al-Abduljabbar)

“My dad left around 10 days later. Then I really felt I was on my own, but for some reason I felt safe,” she said. “I have dreamt about studying abroad and being independent since middle school.”

Al-Abduljabbar was not afraid of being in a new place, in a different culture, among people whose language had only one thing in common with her native Arabic: being one of the world’s most difficult tongues.

“Definitely knowing who I am and my identity and being proud of it is what gave me the strength,” she told Arab News.

“The language barrier did not scare me as much as one would think. I was fortunate enough to travel when I was younger, and my dad would always teach us a few words in the spoken language of each country.”

Those few words soon grew into sentences, the sentences grew into conversations, and the conversations into friendships, not only for Al-Abduljabbar, but also for the other 34 Saudi students who last month graduated from different universities across Poland.

All of them now know how to speak Polish, navigate Eastern European culture, cope in subfreezing temperatures in the winter, and have experienced being dependent only on themselves.

For Noor Al-Awami, who graduated together with Al-Abduljabbar, that self-reliance was one of the most important things she learnt throughout those years.

“There’s nothing that empowers you as much as being alone,” she said.

But it was not always easy.

In difficult moments, what gave her strength was remembering where she came from, that her family believed in her and she would “always be in their prayers.”

Tahirah Al-Garrous, another student from the same group, would remind herself that she “came to Poland to achieve a goal,” and every such moment only got her closer to it.

“I’ve also learnt how to accept and tolerate people the way they are, without judging them,” she said. “I’ve learnt so many things, but one of the most important is how to enjoy the journey, not only the destination.”

The journey is not over yet — neither for her, nor for Al-Abduljabbar, Al-Awami and other medical graduates. As they return home, they will apply for one-year internships at hospitals to explore various specializations that will help them choose their own and become resident doctors.

But before that happens, they want to spend some time at home.

Al-Abduljabbar could not wait to be back as her mother and father arrived in Warsaw to help her pack and close the Polish chapter of her life.

“I’m a big family girl and I’ve missed them these past seven years,” she said.

“Staying in contact with them, video calling them from time to time, looking forward to the time I’m going to meet them again, is what kept me going.”

Poland offers a wide range of degree programs, but medicine has always been among the top choices of Saudi students.

This year’s graduates were mostly from medical schools. In Warsaw, more than half of them were women.

For the Kingdom’s envoy to Poland, Ambassador Saad Al-Saleh, it has been the reason for much pride.

“By 2030 we will have 70,000 students sent to study all over the world, and a large percentage of this number are and will be female students,” he told Arab News. 

“It certainly makes me feel proud and happy. It also shows that Vision 2030 simply works, as the fact of their graduation fulfils our national objectives. I myself am a father to four daughters and it is very comforting to see that they have the chance to get the best education, in my country or abroad, and this will create an amazing platform to build their future and their careers.”

He knew well — and appreciated — the effort and determination of all those who, like the young women from the Medical University of Warsaw, chose difficult fields of study that for years separated them from home.

“I truly admire the persistence of our students in their striving for obtaining education at some of the most demanding faculties and academic paths,” he said.

“Being sometimes very far from their homes and families, they stay focused and reach their goals. That’s incredible.”


Governor of Taif meets with Saudi cultural director

Governor of Taif meets with Saudi cultural director
Updated 5 sec ago
Follow

Governor of Taif meets with Saudi cultural director

Governor of Taif meets with Saudi cultural director
  • Prince Saud bin Nahar was briefed on SASCA’s strategy and initiatives aimed at fostering and empowering talent in the cultural and artistic fields
  • A cooperation agreement was signed between SASCA and Taif University

Governor of Taif Prince Saud bin Nahar bin Saud met Princess Haifa bint Abdulmohsen, the director of development and partnerships at the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, at the governorate’s headquarters on Thursday.

He was briefed on SASCA’s strategy and initiatives aimed at fostering and empowering talent in the cultural and artistic fields, in line with the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

The parties were also present at the signing of a cooperation agreement between SASCA in Taif and Taif University.


Saudi FM receives phone call from Belgian counterpart

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from his Belgian counterpart Hadja Lahbib on Thursday.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from his Belgian counterpart Hadja Lahbib on Thursday.
Updated 45 min 27 sec ago
Follow

Saudi FM receives phone call from Belgian counterpart

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from his Belgian counterpart Hadja Lahbib on Thursday.

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from his Belgian counterpart Hadja Lahbib on Thursday.

During the phone call, the two officials discussed  developments in the region, particularly developments in the Gaza Strip and efforts made in this regard.


ilmi, PNU launch museum studies program

ilmi, PNU launch museum studies program
Updated 18 April 2024
Follow

ilmi, PNU launch museum studies program

ilmi, PNU launch museum studies program
  • New micro-credential courses open to all high-school graduates, undergraduates
  • Program includes Arabic, English, in-person, remote, long and short-term courses

RIYADH: A new museum studies program in Saudi Arabia has opened for registration, offering micro-credential and long-term courses.

It is the result of a partnership between ilmi, a center for science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and mathematics learning, and Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University.

ilmi — meaning “my knowledge” in Arabic — is a science and innovation center that aims to empower young people in Saudi Arabia.

A philanthropic NGO initiative created by Princess Sara bint Mashour bin Abdulaziz, wife of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, ilmi is incubated, supported and funded by the Mohammed bin Salman Foundation, Misk, as a subsidiary, and operates in partnership with Mohammed bin Salman Nonprofit City.

The museum studies program includes micro-credential, diploma, minor and elective courses.

It is open to recent high-school graduates and university undergraduates keen to secure entry-level positions in museums, as well as professionals seeking new skill sets and career paths.

Created by ilmi and PNU experts from Saudi Arabia and around the world, the program offers a blend of online and in-person learning, alongside Arabic and English tuition options.

Micro-credential courses will blend online and in-person learning, and are available to applicants over the age of 18.

Courses include museum impact studies, museum education and awareness, an introduction to museum technologies, fundamentals of museum management and integrating digital technology.

Courses on offer for PNU students include an introduction to museums elective and specialist minors in museums and digital technology, exhibit design and content development.

A two-year diploma in museum management will also be available for both PNU students and recent high-school graduates.

Registration has opened for the first online micro-credential course starting this month: Fundamentals of museum management.

All further micro-credential courses will take place in May and June, with the diploma, minor and elective programs starting in September at the beginning of the academic year 2024/25.

Program graduates can also apply to work alongside ilmi experts as they design and launch unique, informal learning programs across the Kingdom.

For more information and registration, click here.


KSrelief, WFP to support malnutrition treatment in Yemen

KSrelief, WFP to support malnutrition treatment in Yemen
Updated 18 April 2024
Follow

KSrelief, WFP to support malnutrition treatment in Yemen

KSrelief, WFP to support malnutrition treatment in Yemen
  • Allocation of $4.85 million to treat malnutrition in children aged under five as well as pregnant and lactating women in Yemen
  • Agreement was signed by Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, adviser at the Royal Court and KSrelief’s supervisor general, and WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain

PARIS: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center signed a joint cooperation agreement with the World Food Programme allocating $4.85 million to treat malnutrition in children aged under five as well as pregnant and lactating women in Yemen.

The signing took place on the sidelines of the International Conference for Sudan and Neighboring Countries, which was organized by France and the EU in Paris.

The agreement was signed by Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, adviser at the Royal Court and KSrelief’s supervisor general, and WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain.

It aims to improve the nutritional situation for Yemen’s most impoverished people by providing supplements in targeted areas, benefiting 86,985 people.


Rare cameras reveal history of Saudi media at Hasma Museum in Tabuk

Rare cameras reveal history of Saudi media at Hasma Museum in Tabuk
Updated 18 April 2024
Follow

Rare cameras reveal history of Saudi media at Hasma Museum in Tabuk

Rare cameras reveal history of Saudi media at Hasma Museum in Tabuk

RIYADH: A fine collection of rare cameras, print and audiovisual artifacts at the Hasma Museum in Tabuk offers visitors a unique experience.

Among items in the collection are vintage treasures such as old box cameras, 16 mm to 35 mm cinema cameras, underwater cameras, and flash cameras from 100 years ago.

The museum also has a display of historical audio and video equipment, while visitors can explore the earliest editions of local and other Arab newspapers.

Odeh Al-Atwi, who is from the Tabuk region, created the museum near the Hasma desert to offer a memorable experience to visitors.

Antique collector and museum owner Al-Atwi, telling the Saudi Press Agency of his journey to preserve these media artifacts in the museum, said: “It’s been a profound experience and a significant milestone in my life. The media plays a pivotal role in shaping social consciousness and documenting newsworthy events, particularly those that reverberate through the media landscape.”

Al-Atwi meticulously curated a remarkable collection of tools at his museum, providing visitors a captivating journey through the history of classic cameras, broadcast equipment, satellite linking machines and an array of visual and audio devices.

Each artifact, he said, acts as a window into the evolution of media technologies.

He expressed his gratitude to the Museum Commission for their encouragement in establishing the museum and their efforts in organizing the museum sector. Al-Atwi also acknowledged the support from the Saudi leadership, emphasizing their commitment to initiatives that benefit citizens and the nation.

The Ministry of Culture facilitates the endeavors of private museum owners by licensing their establishments through the Abdea platform. This initiative is an enabler for those in the museum sector, supporting its development and contributing to the realization of the cultural goals outlined in the Saudi Vision 2030.