Saudi Arabia: Graduations Form Closer Ties in the US-Saudi Relationship


Among the graduations taking place at American Universities this year have been Saudi students.  There are presently about 43,500 Saudi students studying in the United States.  More than 4000 of these student graduates were scholarship students among the King Abdullah Scholarship program.


In my opinion the scholarship program is one of the best programs available for not only Saudi’s youth but as a mechanism for developing closer ties in the US-Saudi relationship.  The scholarship program provides the Saudi student the opportunity to attend American Universities where he or she is exposed to American university life, new curriculums and disciplines and integration into American culture and life.


The Saudi scholarship students who return to Saudi Arabia are the new generation of trailblazers.  They return to the Kingdom with bilingual capabilities and armed with new knowledge and ways of thinking.  Many Saudi students gain exposure to courses in Philosophy, Theology and strategic thinking that is not available in the Kingdom.  They also have been exposed to new business practices and ways of using technology.


The questions I have which I do not know the answers have to do with the returning student or the graduating student.  I wonder how many Saudi students became members of fraternities or sororities during their studies?  What kind of positions do these students return to?  How is the student using what he or she learned in the United States?  What was learned?  What were the important lessons?

13 Responses

  1. I’m surprised to learn what small percentage of these Saudi students are on scholarships. I thought it was a higher percentage considering all the talk and warning about dating a Saudi students as he is risking his scholarship if he were to marry or be found in a relationship.

  2. Those are good questions for a study!

  3. Saudis have had more interactions with and exposure to the American way of life than people from any other Arab or Muslim country; yet Saudi Arabia is the least politically, socially and economically advanced country in the region. The question is why?

  4. Ignore my question it was just a brain blip. Of course not ALL Saudi students studying here graduated at once – duh!

  5. The numbers of Saudi students getting the chance to study in the United States continues to increase. What I like is how the students are exposed to such different types of Universities and environments. I wish more American students had the opportunities to spend part of their studies abroad.

    I think the answer to your question Ali is that Saudi Arabia is led by a strong monarchy. Yet no doubt all of the students who are participating in the scholarship programs there will be changes in the Kingdom which do impact on economics, developments and yes, even politics.

  6. ‘Saudi Arabia is led by a strong monarchy.’

    Wouldn’t a ‘strong monarchy’ be able to make decisions on it’s own rather than depending on the rulings of a shoura council?

  7. As someone who works for a college I’ve seen how some of these kids behave– as if they were Amish on Rumspringa. They go wild. I remember one particular young man who was so intoxicated he had to be taken to the hospital and almost died, but all he could say in between bouts of vomit was, “Please don’t call my parents. They don’t know I drink. Please don’t tell my other friends, they don’t know I drink either…”

    Now, you might say that’s not so different from (underage) US students who try to hide their drinking, but I felt very bad for him because from what he was saying it was clear he felt he’d be punished/ostracized by his community.

  8. I like your Blog and your style of writing:)
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  9. I would like to think that with the knowledge that students gather from their life abroad that they will be able to keep their economy afloat when the oil money begins to dwindle. My query is to why more students are not studying in more various fields. If the govt wants to keep its workforce more Saudi, then they should be preparing their youth to enter into different fields- not just medical, engineering and business.

    I suppose with more people venturing out into the world and bringing back different views, politically something will eventually change. Whether or not this is to fight harder against becoming Westernized, or relaxing a little is hard to tell.

  10. I wonder what the ratio of Saudi students studying in the US is when compared with other nations and places like the UK, Australia, etc…? Isn’t there more than one type of scholarship Saudi students may qualify for when choosing to study abroad?

  11. The largest number of scholarships for Saudi students are the King Abdullah scholarships. However many private corporations such as Aramco and Sabic also offer some scholarships.

    I do not have the stats of Saudi students abroad at my fingertips but I know it is publicly available. The US is one of the top destinations for Saudi students.

  12. As a girl studying at a university, I have become friends with many of the saudi guys who study here on scholarships. It is unbelievable to watch the transformation they make while here in the states. They sleep with girls, drink alcohol regularly, smoke marijuana, go to bars, party all night long, eat mcdonalds everyday, order pizza with pork on it, their praying mats gather dust. Every month when their nice paycheck from the king comes they go wild…. Their families back home have NO idea, and a few of their siblings have joined them at the university – When the sibling comes around, we all know who is allowed to know and who isnt.

    This is just an example of what some of the boys are up to at universities – I am not saying they are bad people, they are very kind and good friends. But their behavior is outrageous sometimes. I have yet to see them study half the time.

  13. I have to agree with you Heather- maybe it’s because the well-mannered ones are more quiet and don’t interact as openly with Westerners, but the Saudis that I’ve become friends with pretty much threw most practices out the door once they stepped foot into University.
    Saudis I’ve talked to said it’s like a vacation from the rules- they get to act how they want and interpret their religion as they see fit. I don’t see many act any wilder then other college students, and the one’s I do interact with often still pray daily and wont eat hotdogs :p

    I think the freedom of being out from under their communities watch might give them more space to explore themselves. Who knows what they’ll take back from the gallivanting Wests version of College life lol

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