Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is currently visiting the US, has announced that on the orders of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman 2,628 male and female Saudi students studying in the US on their own will be included in the government’s foreign scholarship program.
With the inclusion of these students, the total strength of Saudi students on government scholarship in the US has reached 100,000.
These Saudi students enjoy full scholarships that cover tuition fees, annual return ticket, health insurance and monthly stipends for the student and his/ her spouse. The scholarship also covers any additional expenses that are needed to finish their university studies. This is not something any other government does for its youth. One more thing about the scholarship program is that Saudi university students studying abroad are given a bonus when a student achieves good grades.
Many analysts and experts are keenly observing this strategic visit and most of them are looking at it from a political and economic perspective. From a Saudi perspective, this visit shows the transparent link between the ruler and the ruled.
A short time before the visit was announced, many students and their parents using official channels had complained about the expenditures incurred on the schooling abroad.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman took notice of the matter and issued the orders of absorbing all Saudi students studying in the US into the government scholarship program. This shows our leader’s keenness to meet the needs of the Saudi citizens not just in the Kingdom but also abroad. The king’s decision’s added a flavor to the visit that was marked as a success in further bolstering the Saudi-US ties.
The government scholarship program is very useful, as it helps Saudis getting exposed to western education, cultures and ways of life. Interaction with other cultures and people broadens an individual’s horizon.
So, it is vital for the scholarship program to continue even with partial Saudi government support. It can be done through the efforts of wealthy Saudis. It is important that wealthy Saudis support the Saudi foreign scholarship program. It should be done as a public-private initiative. Education is the key to the development of a society.
There are many Saudi business personalities who offer small-scale scholarship programs for their employee’s children but we need to do more in this regard. We should not rely solely on our government.
Sending Saudi students abroad can be part of investment deals that are signed between the Kingdom and various mega companies.
Many Saudi students have showed unprecedented talents not only in the classrooms but also outside their classrooms. Many of them became part of the society and participated in volunteer works. Many of them also became young unofficial ambassadors of their country.
Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. A Royal Gift to Saudi Students in US reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.