This past school year, Saudi Arabia sent 66,000 students to U.S. universities, four times the number before the 2001 attacks…Terrorism works. via Saudi Students Flood In as U.S. Reopens Door – WSJ.com. h/t DP
Monday, July 30, 2012
Saudi Students Flood In as U.S. Reopens Door
WASHINGTON—Dressed in caps and gowns, the college students packing a graduation ceremony in suburban Washington, D.C., acted like excited graduates anywhere in the United States.
Except, perhaps, when the men broke into tribal line dances. Or when the women, wearing headscarves, burst forth with zagareet, soaring trills of their tongues, in celebration.
The more than 300 graduates gathered at a hotel overlooking the Potomac River were all from Saudi Arabia, part of a massive government-paid foreign study program to earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees and return home to help run their country.
“You are the best of the best, and the future of our country,” Saudi Arabia’s cultural attaché, Mohammed al Issa, declared at the May event.
In the years following the security crackdown on Arab travelers after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks—in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian—tough restrictions kept most Arab students away from the U.S. In 2004, only about 1,000 Saudis were studying in the U.S., according to the U.S. State Department.
This past school year, Saudi Arabia sent 66,000 students to U.S. universities, four times the number before the 2001 attacks and the fastest-growing source of foreign students in the U.S., ahead of China, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Saudi influx is part of a broader increase in international students in the U.S. as American universities seek to raise tuition revenues. Some 723,277 foreign students enrolled during the 2010-2011 school year, up 32% from a decade ago.
To accommodate the new Saudi students, Central Washington administrators offered to provide halal food prepared in accordance with Islamic law, or set aside space on campus for a mosque. The Saudi students declined, preferring to eat at town cafes like everyone else, Mr. Launius said.
The Saudi contingent “doesn’t seem to have caused any kind of consternation and stir at all,” said Mr. Launius. “I think this is a good exposure to what these folks are actually like.”
Saudi Arabia’s international scholarship program, launched when Saudi King Abdullah took the throne in 2005, is a key part of his efforts to equip future generations in handling the country’s main challenges, including a fast-growing population and declining oil reserves.
Since taking over, the Saudi king has emphasized scientific education and exposure to foreign countries as keys to combat religious extremism and transform Saudi Arabia into a modern state. This year, the scholarship program has about 130,000 young people studying around the world, at an estimated cost of at least $5 billion since the program began.
The king’s efforts to modernize, including the scholarship program, have led to constant tension between Western-influenced Saudis and a religiously educated core who hold heavy sway over society and reject modernization because it is associated with the West.
That internal tension was on display this month when Saudi Arabia, under threat of a ban from the Olympic Games, finally ended its status as the last Olympic nation to refuse to include women on its teams.And the U.S. enforced sharia law for them segregating men and womens interview rooms and makeshift mosques. See pics below.
King Abdullah, who is in his late 80s and was educated by clerics in a mosque, initiated the scholarship program after persuading U.S. officials, particularly President George W. Bush, to reopen the student visa service after 9/11. At a pivotal meeting in 2005 at the president’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, the King convinced Mr. Bush that the education program was crucial for the two countries’ long-term relationship.That relationship consists primarily on oil supply, right? What else do the Saudi’s have to offer?
“The impassioned plea that the King made for this, and the long-term importance of the relationship, really made an impression on President Bush,” said Frances Townsend, former homeland security adviser, who attended the 2005 meeting.Bush approved it, Obama has exploited it.