Program helps young Saudi’s study abroad
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.