November 18, 2006

Saudis return in record numbers to US universities

Saudi students studying in the US have achieved a record figure as their number has reached 11,000 after several years that witnessed a drop in their numbers following the September 11 attacks, Asharq Al-Awsat, the London-based Arabic-language daily reported Sunday. These include 1,653 Saudi girls who got scholarships to study in America.

The increase came as a result of the measures taken by the Saudi and American authorities, including the Saudi government's huge scholarship program to enable Saudi students to study abroad.

Mazyad Ibrahim Al-Mazyad, the Saudi Cultural AttachÈ said 10,936 Saudi students have been registered in 733 education institutions throughout the United States. He said 3,000 other Saudi students are expected to arrive in the new semester. This means their number will reach 14,000 students. Virginia occupies the fourth position after California, Florida and Colorado as a favored destination for Saudi students seeking study at US universities. There are 736 Saudi students at universities in the state of Virginia.

The number of Saudi students now exceeds the number of students in the academic year 1980/1981, as their number then reached 10,440 according to the International Education Institution in New York, a non-profit organization working with the US State Department. Also, the current figure is double the number of Saudi students in the US in September 2001 when then stood at 5,579.

Prince Turki Al-Faisal, the Kingdom's ambassador to the US, said joint education efforts began to increase following the April 2005 meeting between King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, who was Crown Prince then, and US President George Bush in Crawford, Texas.