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Wider world opened to Saudis studying abroad

saudi education abroad

"Now lots of girls go abroad to study and broaden their horizons. There's been a big change in attitudes among my girlfriends over about the last three years."

June 7, 2012 6:55 by



The idea of studying overseas is not new to Saudis. After the Second World War a steady flow of students boarded propeller-powered planes for the long flight to theUnited Statesfrom what was still a largely nomadic society.


Many of the kingdom’s top businessmen, academics and other figures owe their educations to Western institutions. But as the population boomed, a foreign education was no longer affordable to any but the wealthy.


“It was more tolerant and liberal in the seventies than in the nineties. I think it’s started to change again,” said Bandar al-Showair, 29, an executive manager at a large telecom company.


Showair was in the first batch of students to be sent abroad under the King Abdullah scholarship programme in 2005 and did a masters in information technology inNorth Carolina.


“When I compare myself to those who have not studied abroad, you can see the difference,” he said.


“It’s not about getting the degrees, it’s about getting the culture and the new ideas and new ways of life.”

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