Syracuse University was a participant in the first ever International Exhibition for Higher Education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The exhibition’s objective was to continue the improvement of higher education in Saudi Arabia by establishing relationships between regional and international colleges, universities, and educational organizations. The exhibition attracted more than 300 organizations from 33 different countries that are interested in working with Saudi Arabia schools.

Hasan Shaikh, an alumnus of the School of Information Studies’ (iSchool) telecommunications and network management program, arranged for SU to receive an invitation to the exhibition. Shaikh recognized the need for an iSchool education in his home country of Saudi Arabia and grew passionate about helping SU establish a greater presence there. He connected with the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia, who organized the exhibition, and explained how Saudi Arabia schools could benefit from forming relationships with SU.

SU created a four-person team to represent the University at the event, consisting of Susan Corieri, the iSchool’s director of enrollment and management, graduate education representative; Susan Donovan, the dean of admissions, undergraduate education representative; James O’Connor, executive director of Middle East Advancement and External Affairs; and Peter Leuner, the director of the European programs for SU Abroad.

The four-day exhibition was held at the Riyadh International Exhibition Center and included seminars, academic tours, speakers, and forums. The college representatives were grouped by countries and assigned to booths throughout the center. The lines of perspective students never ceased, as more than 60,000 visitors poured into the exhibition each day, Corieri said.
The representatives from SU spoke to hundreds of perspective students interested in both graduate and undergraduate studies. They returned from their trip with several hundred direct student recruitments, as well as six possible partnerships with Saudi Arabia schools, including Princess Norah Binti Abdulrahman University and King Saud University.

One of the main goals for the SU representatives was to learn more about the culture in Saudi Arabia and to engage with the perspective students there. By learning more about the culture and customs of Saudi Arabia, SU can work to improve its environment to fulfill the needs of Saudi students, Corieri said. Shaikh accompanied the SU group during their trip to help them learn and understand the culture. The representatives also learned more about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by talking with perspective students at the exhibition and by going out to experience the local community.

The representatives were welcomed into the homes of some Syracuse alumni, including Azzah Aldeghather, SU alumna who became the first licensed female architect in Saudi Arabia, Corieri said.

“We had a wonderful visit with her,” Corieri said. “She made us lunch and told us her story about the barriers she had to breakdown to become an architect. It was absolutely amazing.”
In addition to the International Exhibition for Higher Education, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education established the King Abdullah Scholarship Program in 2005. This scholarship sponsors both male and female Saudi students who wish to continue their undergraduate or graduate education in international universities, including in the United States, France, and Germany.