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Our story of King Fahd - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Each one of us has our own individual experience with King Fahd, may God rest his soul. I am among the thousands of Saudis who have their story to tell about the late king. He is the main sponsor of planning and implementing the most prominent development projects in Saudi Arabia of which no other country had encountered. He achieved quite an accomplishment when he launched student exchange programs with international universities. According to his policy, he sent groups of young men to be educated in France, Britain, United States, Canada, Japan, Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia as well as many other countries. This educational campaign was the first of its kind, inexperienced by any other country in the world, and the number of students involved in the scheme reached 100,000 in almost 15 years. He believed that education is the sole key to improve the situation of developing countries, which may not have the capacity to enroll all students in private universities. He also believed in high quality education, rather than a quantitative based one. To look at matters closely, we should consider his thoughts on the student exchange scheme as an example. Thousands of Saudis including myself have benefited from a free education of high-standards and were granted allowances for living, medication and travel costs. King Fahd believed that these aids would help us to fulfill our potential in education. He also assured that Saudi women are to be educated, through convincing students who study abroad to take their wives with them so that they too would have the privilege to study. Furthermore, the King allocated financial rewards for those who accompanied and studied with their husbands.

In the meantime, he ordered civil and military governmental institutions to send its employers abroad to train for certain jobs. He pushed for rapid development, transferred education and training and hence created a modern society. The majority of students returned home after studying abroad to work for and contribute to the development of their country. Furthermore, he brilliantly allocated land allotments for every graduate to build a house upon in order to encourage them to study at degree level. The truth is, King Fahd had built new cities, extended smaller cities and provided them with communication and transportation facilities even in suburban areas through a complicated and costly program. One can only understand the developmental transformation that happened if one had traveled all over the vast peninsula to observe the changes. Today, cities realize mixed populations of different regional background yet are brought together in the new modern country. This transformation entailed social, economic and political development enjoyed by all citizens. Out of the kingdom, he created a new country of a homogenous nature. This was a policy that he acquired from his late father, King Abdul Aziz, May God have mercy upon him, who not only fought alone in the battle of reconstructing Saudi Arabia, but settled the nomadic Bedouins of the country.

This is the brilliant mentality with which King Fahd, may God rest his soul, managed to organize for the future whilst competently guiding the country in severe and hazardous circumstances. The clearest example of his accomplishments is that the overwhelming majority of Saudi families have experienced a significant improvement in their financial status through King Fahd”s developmental projects, a dream of his that eventually came true.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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