US has most Saudi students globally

Saudis have been studying in the United States for decades. (SPA)
Updated 14 June 2016

US has most Saudi students globally

JEDDAH: The United States has the most Saudi students in the world at 125,000, which includes those on scholarship and others studying at their own expense, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
Saudis have been studying in the United States for decades, overseen by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission, which was established in America 60 years ago. This was part of the government’s plan, now under Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, to ensure Saudis have skills to help the economy on their return home, the report stated.
King Salman had demonstrated his concern about the education of citizens when he visited the United States officially in 2015, where he met with a group of students studying in the country.
This commitment has extended to 2016, with the announcement of Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program 2020 (NTP), spearheaded by the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, chaired by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Ministry of Education, under the NTP, has 36 initiatives for the development of education, including the foreign scholarship program and improvement of its operations, with a budget of SR48 million. The total education budget is SR24 billion. This confirms the government’s continued commitment to education, the report said.
The NTP, announced on June 6, is a SR268 billion plan over the next five years to triple revenue from non-oil sources, tax expatriates and goods, reduce water and electricity subsidies, cut public sector salaries and ensure a greater involvement of the private sector in the economy.
The NTP aims to boost non-oil revenue to SR530 billion by 2020, creating some 450,000 non-government jobs. The plan aims to enhance the level and quality of services provided by government and “achieve a prosperous future” and sustainable development. A further SR300 billion would be added to the NTP by the private sector.


Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

Updated 20 February 2020

Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

  • “There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” says Abdullah Al-Joghiman

DHAHRAN: Saudi portrait photographer Abdullah Al-Joghiman has a message for everybody: You are beautiful just the way you are.

If you don’t believe him, let him take your picture.

“Even if you’re not photogenic, or think you look bad in pictures, I can always turn your frown upside down,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is a full-time financial analyst for the Saudi Electricity Co., but allows plenty of time for his work as a freelance portrait and event photographer on the side.

“I started off doing landscape photography, but I love portrait photography more. Landscape photographers have to travel a lot, and I wasn’t able to commit to that lifestyle for many reasons. But since I was a child I’ve always loved taking pictures of people. There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” he told Arab News.

The 34-year-old was born in Al-Hofuf and now lives in Dammam, but his passion for photography has taken him all over the Kingdom and to other areas of the world.

Al-Joghiman at the 2018 Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai. (Supplied)

Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

“It was amazing, I met people from around 20 countries who came to take part,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

Completely self-taught, Al-Joghiman caught the photography bug at college and has been training himself ever since. “I’ve been dabbling in photography since high school, but I started taking it more seriously in college. I’ve been shooting professionally since 2012 or 2013,” he said.

Al-Joghiman started off humbly, with a camera-centric smartphone, but has since expanded his collection significantly, and now shoots with a variety of high-tech cameras from Sony. Now he is attracting interest from both local and international sponsors, especially in the gaming and cosplay areas.

“Cosplayers are kind of difficult to shoot because they can be perfectionists, but I love seeing the joy on their faces when they see the final pictures. That makes it worthwhile,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is happy that social restrictions on photography in Saudi Arabia are easing, allowing him to find more opportunities to do the work he loves.

“It’s difficult to take pictures of people here, especially strangers, but I can’t really blame them, considering that they are not really used to that in our culture. But things are changing and it’s much easier to be a photographer in Saudi Arabia now,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Abdullah Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

He is grateful for the Ministry of Culture’s efforts to revive the Kingdom’s art scene, and has long hoped that photography will become more regulated in the country.

“The market for photography and videography really needs to be regulated. It’s hard enough putting a price on one’s work without scoping out the competition and finding that someone else is charging thousands for just a headshot when I’m doing shoots for two or three hundred,” he said.

“I love my work, and I’d love to be able to do it for free, but at the end of the day I still need to eat,” he said.

Al-Joghiman doesn’t want to limit anyone else’s opportunities but simply wants the playing field evened out a little.

“As a photographer, I just want a fair chance for everyone. More importantly, a client should know exactly what they are paying for,” he said.

His advice to young Saudis looking to become photographers is this: “If you pursue photography, don’t worry. Just do what you love, and if people tell you that they don’t look good in pictures, convince them by taking a picture of them.”

AlJoghiman’s work can be found on Instagram and Twitter (@finalecco), and on his website, https://www.eccofantasyph.com