LONDON—The Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom says he is “astounded” by the growth of women in the Saudi workforce.
Speaking at the Middle East Education Thought Leadership Forum here on Thursday, the ambassador, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, said that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan had set a target of 30 percent of the country’s workforce being women by 2030, but that women’s share of the workforce had already reached 36 percent.
“It was the people of the country that did it. It shows how ready the women of Saudi Arabia were to take up the roles, which you can attribute to education. They filled the roles overnight.”
“It shows how ready the women of Saudi Arabia were to take up the roles, which you can attribute to education. They filled the roles overnight.”Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom
Prince Khalid said education was the most important part of any country’s development and that there had been a huge increase in Saudi Arabia’s education budget.
Research is the most important part of a university’s output, he said, because that is the part that gives back to society.
There has been fantastic cooperation between Saudi institutions and the University of Oxford in the medical field, Prince Khalid said.
“They were so impressed with the Saudi students that they asked for them to be sent to Oxford to be residents,” he said.
Egypt’s Strategy for Improvement
Earlier, Egypt’s deputy minister of higher education and scientific research for university affairs, Ayman Ashour, discussed his government’s efforts to strengthen higher education.
Elements of that strategy include helping Egyptian universities rise in international rankings and attracting more foreign students, Ashour told the forum. The latest figures showed there were 20,424 foreign students in the country, including 7,324 graduate students, he said.
A Call for Greater Cooperation
“Universities are afraid of competitors, but the world is becoming a small village and partnership is the solution to many of our problems.”Wafi Haj Majid Chair of the department of Arabic language and literature at Global University, in Beirut
Wafi Haj Majid, chair of the department of Arabic language and literature at Global University, in Beirut, said universities need a new vision after the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Students come first, then communities, which means we must serve both students and communities,” Majid told the forum, speaking remotely from Lebanon.
Citing one example of an area where greater partnerships were needed, he said students from small universities were sometimes unable to borrow books from larger universities. If this was happening even in the same country, then it must be a great challenge across the Arab world, he added.
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The Association of Arab Universities should take control of university libraries in the region, Majid said.
Majid said he also wanted to develop research through university partnerships.
He concluded: “Universities are afraid of competitors, but the world is becoming a small village and partnership is the solution to many of our problems.”
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