Saudi talent ‘can solve world energy problems’

Consul General Mike Hankey talking to journalists.

Consul General Mike Hankey talking to journalists.

Saudi Arabia has talented people who could one day solve energy problems for this country and the world, a leading US diplomat said here recently.

Consul General Mike Hankey said he based his assessment on a recent tour of Saudi universities and schools. “I was very impressed with the students I met,” he said at the recent International Education Week celebrations held here.

“From our perspective we see great opportunities because Saudi Arabia is so rich in human capital with tens of millions of people who are highly literate.” He said many Saudis would be able to find jobs in a knowledge economy under development in this country.

“Saudis have these opportunities to move beyond just making things to using research, design and intellectual skills to solve some really key problems, not just for Saudi Arabia but for the whole world. This includes in fields such as research in solar energy and renewable energy, fuel efficiency standards, and the design of new cities.”

He said he was “very impressed” with the collaboration taking place at the Dhahran Techno-Valley between King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals and a range of big American companies including General Electric, Baker Hughes and Halliburton.

He said there was joint research taking place to find solutions to challenges in the energy sector. “This is the most exciting thing that I see happening in education, the collaboration between research and business to find solutions for the future.”

Hankey lauded the efforts of Saudi universities to develop world-class educational institutions, in particular the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. He also praised the Saudi government for developing a scholarship program that has seen thousands of students studying at American institutions over the years.

He said that the Dhahran Consulate processes more than 10,000 visas every year including education, tourism and business visas. He urged Saudi students to approach the consulate for more information on education opportunities in the US. During the education week, he said the consulate appointed an employee to help students with their inquiries online.

“We welcome students who want to study in the US whether it is high school, undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, or professional courses. We have been trying to use international education week to make sure students understand that there is a whole range of opportunities in the US.” He said the US government would like to see more Saudi students in the country.

Hankey said that he had great admiration for the efforts taken by the Saudi government and its people to develop personal relationships. He said that when he started learning Arabic 10 years ago, he befriended a Saudi law student in a coffee shop in Washington. They were able to help each other learn their mother tongues. He was also able to learn more about Saudi culture.

International education week is a joint initiative of the US State Department and its Education Department to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences in the US.

 
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