Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: After our first full day here, the snapshots of the city that come to mind are the cloudless, cool March weather and the massive buildings that are scattered throughout the city. As Ariel mentioned in her post, large construction projects seem to be underway throughout much of the city, and the towering glass skyscrapers stand out in stark contrast (e.g.
The visits were a whirlwind of meetings with meetings with various deans and professors at the university. The emphasis on education in this country is impressive – one of the professors that we met with mentioned that the country spends 26% of GDP on education alone. The university dean emphasized that one of their main goals is to become a top 100 ranked university on the Academic Ranking of World Universities within the next several years (KSU is currently ranked in the 201-300 group). Certainly, the various programs at KSU that were introduced to us also reflect the importance of KSU to the greater Saudi society. The
Speaking with this professor revealed, at least in my opinion, one of the many purposes behind the enormous investments in education – creating a sustainable and diversified economic future for Saudi beyond oil wealth. While wealth clearly abounds here, the professor also noted the basic facts facing
Our first full day in Saudi Arabia was packed with visits to other places that I wasn’t even able to start discussing (Al Riyadh newspaper and the newly constructed Princess Nora Abdul Rahman University; a huge, amazing campus with its own internal tram system, as well as a behemoth library that holds 5 million books – with automated retrieval!), not to mention a tiring one, but it has definitely been a great start to this trip. Many thanks to the numerous faculty/staff at KSU, Al Riyadh, and PNU for hosting and speaking with us! Also – we’re belated in expressing this on our blog, but many thanks also to Professor Seznec from