Pro­gram helps young Saudi’s study abroad

China Daily (Canada) - - XI’S VISIT - By YANG FEIYUE yangfeiyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

When Abozahrah Abdalrhman picked up the phone and said ni hao (hello), no one would have guessed he was a for­eigner born and bred in Saudi Ara­bia.

The 27-year-old speaks flu­en­tChi­nese, prac­ti­cally with­out any ac­cent, and is now study­ing in a mas­ter’s pro­gram on com­mu­ni­ca­tion en­gi­neer­ing at theUniver­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy in Bei­jing.

He choseChina over Ja­pan and South Korea when ap­ply­ing for the over­seas study pro­gram in 2008, be­cause of the pleas­ant im­pres­sion his first trip to the coun­try made on him back in 2004.

“I loved the weather, the sea, the moun­tains and lo­cal cul­ture in Shen­zhen,” he re­called.

Seven years of liv­ing in China has made Abdalrhman feel China is a home away from home. He lives with his Saudi wife and their daugh­ter in Bei­jing. Not only does he have many Chi­nese friends, he knows his way around.

“I re­ally love my Chi­nese friends, and they are very en­thu­si­as­tic and al­ways ready to help”.

There’s now no prob­lem for him to ar­range travel alone, get­ting train and air tick­ets and book­ing ho­tels.

Abdalrhman vis­ited Hong Kong, Guangzhou in Guang­dong prov­ince, Shang­hai and Chengdu in Sichuan prov­ince and is par­tic­u­larly im­pressed by the land­scapes of China.

“The moun­tains and forests were so dif­fer­ent from what we have back at home,” he said.

He even drove him­self on a car trip to He­bei and He­nan provinces dur­ing sum­mer.

Abdalrhman is just one of an in­creas­ing num­ber of stu­dents from Saudi Ara­bi­awho have ben­e­fited from the Saudi Ara­bian govern­ment’s schol­ar­ship pro­gram back in 2006, ac­cord­ing to Mo­hammed A. Al­shraim, of Saudi Ara­bia’s cul­ture ad­min­is­tra­tion in China.

The Middle East­ern coun­try has since sent about 1,600 stu­dents to China, most of them ma­jor­ing in en­gi­neer­ing and med­i­cal sci­ences, busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion and fi­nance.

“China, to Arab coun­tries, is es­pe­cially im­por­tant since the Silk Road ini­tia­tive,” said Al­shraim, adding that many stu­dents come to ex­plore Chi­nese cul­ture and cus­toms and un­der­stand Chi­nese peo­ple, in ad­di­tion to study­ing.

The coun­try’s cul­tural mis­sion has signed 18 education and­science co­op­er­a­tive agree­ments with 18Chi­nese univer­si­ties, he said.

About 700 stu­dents have fin­ished their stud­ies and re­turned to Saudi Ara­bia so far.

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