Saudi Arabia is celebrating the opening of the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology in Rabigh, on the western coast of Saudi Arabia. It is a university for postgraduate studies in science, as it specializes in the field of research, focusing on aspects important to Saudi Arabia and the world, such as energy, desalinization, biological and industrial technology, and applied computational science. The studies will be conducted in the English language and will provide men and women from all over the world with vast opportunities.
This project is completely King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz’s investment; he began this campaign when he was crown prince, and today the king’s dream and the dream of his country, has been realized through the inauguration of this scientific edifice that represents the best and most successful kind of investment. The irony is that news of this project surfaced following a brief period of uproar within the media in Saudi Arabia following the news that Saudi universities are at the bottom of the list in the world university rankings.
Today, as the Saudis celebrate this scientific edifice, [the opening of] which will coincide with Saudi National Day, the King Saud University in Riyadh – run by a man who deserves a great deal of appreciation, Dr. Abdullah al Othman, who was backed by the support and facilities of King Abdullah in accordance with an agreed plan – is being congratulated for its ranking as one of the best 200 universities in the world.
Therefore, when we say ‘King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz’s investment’ it is for the simple reason that education is an investment, and this is what guarantees the advancement of the country and its citizens. The first steps towards educational development involve acknowledging the mistakes and then rectifying these mistakes. Therefore, today there is reassuring movement by Saudi Arabia towards advancing educational development on all levels, as Saudi has spent a significant amount on education as a whole. There is a project that signifies the brilliant step [taken by the king] and it is King Abdullah’s project to send students abroad, which 60,000 Saudi male and female students are benefiting from.
This is the best investment, and this is what Saudi Arabia needs, along with the necessity of continuing the evaluation of education in every way, from curricula to teachers and higher education and its cadres. Also Saudi Arabia needs to create a permanent fund for financing the project of sending students abroad in the upcoming years in order to guarantee that this project will not be affected by any economic factors, regardless of whether the price of petrol goes up or down. This project requires its own investment fund with its own board of trustees etc. [to be dealt with] in the suitable economic manner, without paying too much attention to the immediate financial benefits but rather the long term investment.
There must be observation and criticism of everything related to education and on all levels by the media, in its all various forms. The Saudis must agree that when we talk about invariables, the invariable factor of education is that everybody has a right to it; those who do not complete their education have the right to return to studying, and those who left their universities [early] to begin their careers have the right to return to university either for training or to complete their education etc. Moreover, criticizing education and its development on all levels is also a [necessary] invariable.
Education is our real weapon for the future, not the [political] spats or point scoring.