Opinion

An American studying in Saudi Arabia?

September 17, 2018
An American studying in Saudi Arabia?

Hamoud Abu Taleb

Okaz newspaper

The American student had many options to choose from among the top universities in Japan, France and the United States, including the MIT. But his adviser suggested KAUST.

I WAS relaxing and enjoying my time sitting among people at a public place in Washington. I was not eavesdropping but I overheard the man sitting next to me mention Saudi Arabia while talking to his wife. He was talking in a normal voice that everyone around him could hear.

I greeted him and introduced myself as a Saudi Arabian man who was curious why he was mentioning my country. He was very polite. He invited me to sit with him and his wife and we had an interesting discussion.

Kurt was in his 60s and well educated. He worked as a dentist in Texas. He was in Washington for a personal errand. His wife too was well educated and very polite.

Explaining why he mentioned Saudi Arabia, Kurt told me his son studied there on scholarship. Some of you may laugh hearing this: some may be surprised and others maybe sarcastic, but this is a true story.

Kurt’s son graduated in engineering with honors from one of the best universities in Texas. He wanted to pursue his higher education and do research. He applied to top universities around the world and was accepted in number of them, including King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST). Since his son had never heard of KAUST and had no idea about the quality of education there, he consulted an adviser. The American student had many options to choose from among the top universities in Japan, France and the United States, including the MIT. But his adviser suggested KAUST.

I laughed because I thought he was making fun of us. Lucky his son was with him close by. He came and told me himself how he enjoyed studying at KAUST and its research centers. He exercised his hobbies on weekends, and he learned how to make some of the famous Saudi Arabian dishes. He made friends in Thuwal, Jeddah and all over the Kingdom.

I was left with no choice but smile because I was visiting my sons who studied in the United States on scholarship while having a beautiful conversation with an American, who is on a scholarship in Saudi Arabia.


September 17, 2018
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