RIYADH, 1 June 2006 — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has donated $30 million to Jamia Millia Islamia for the construction of a building that will be both library and research center and will be named after him.
The announcement was made by Professor Mushirul Hasan, vice chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, who said the king’s gesture was in response to a proposal put forward by the university. He was addressing the Riyadh chapter of Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni Association (JAMIA).
King Abdullah was awarded an honorary doctorate by the university in January for his contribution to regional and international peace and development and for his efforts to promote Indo-Saudi ties.
Referring to the Delhi-based university’s expansion plans, he said that 11 new centers would be established on the campus including a dental college, a center for theoretical physics, basic sciences, physiotherapy and media center.
One of the university old boys suggested to the Jamia vice chancellor that the university should consider a distance learning program for Indian expatriates wishing to learn Arabic. He said a large number of NRIs were handicapped by their deficiency in Arabic.
Meanwhile, the visiting Indian delegation, led by Professor Sukhdev Thorat, chairman, University Grants Commission, will meet a group of Saudi businessmen today at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry to explore the possibility of setting up an ICT (Information and Communication Technology) Center of Excellence here with India’s technical collaboration.
An Indian Embassy spokesman told Arab News that Abdul Rahman Al-Jeraisy, president of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, had shown keen interest in the Indian proposal.
At another meeting with Education Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Obaid, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh offered India’s support in setting up an ICT center as part of the Saudi Education Ministry’s plan to promote computer literacy in schools.
On the prospects of Indian teachers in Saudi schools, it was discussed but felt to be premature to seek India’s help at the moment.
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Shiddi, deputy minister of education for cultural affairs, pointed out, “We are evaluating the result of the experiment with the introduction of English from the sixth standard. Once we know the result of this experiment involving Saudi teachers, we shall have an idea of the requirement for foreign teachers needed when we introduce English from the fourth standard. At the same time, you have to remember that we have our own Saudi teachers of English.”
He said that apart from seeking India’s help in teaching English, another option was the “Train the Trainer” program. This would involve experienced foreign teachers of English setting up training programs for Saudis who are going to be involved in training Saudi teachers. A restricted number of foreign teachers could be brought in under this program, the deputy minister said.