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The King Saud University campus was graced on Monday by Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of the Republic of India, who was proudly received by Saudi Arabian Minister of Higher Education Dr. Khalid Bin Mohammed Al-Angari and KSU rector Abdullah Al-Othman.
After Dr. Al-Angari extended a warm welcome to the Indian PM and celebrated the growing scientific cooperation between the two countries. Dr. Singh was then awarded an honorary Doctorate by King Saud University, and the Prime minister, an esteemed economist and a driving force behind India’s economic reforms, responded with earnest gratitude. He spoke of his own experience as a professor and being in a position to influence brilliant young minds, and said that he considered it a great honor to be so recognized by one of the premier centers of learning in the Arab world. He cited KSU as a pioneer in regard to its efforts in developing a knowledge economy, an endeavor in which basic human values, academic freedoms and creativity are key elements.
He placed a strong emphasis on Saudi Arabia and India’s similar educational values, in that both recognize the importance of education as one of the keys to social empowerment. He noted that history tells us that Arabs translated and preserved the teachings of Greece, India and Persia, and these texts have been inspirational in education ever since. “There has been,” he said, “An intellectual exchange on a regular basis in all areas of the humanities, and these links influenced the tradition of learning. Over the years, however, these links weakened and we need to restore those links.”
He said that he was quite aware of Saudi King Abdullah Al-Saud’s strong interest in modernizing the Kingdom’s educational infrastructure. Dr. Singh also noted his admiration of King Abdullah’s vision for developing human capital, as well as for developing and promoting a scientific mindset among young people, while at the same time maintaining the cultural traditions.
As in Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister said that India emphasizes the role of education in strengthening social development and progress, and almost 20% of public expenditure in the current Five Year Development Plan is allocated for education. India is building 30 university centers, and greatly developing our infrastructure in science and technology education.
Finally, Dr. Singh said that he looked forward to a greater number of Saudi Arabian students enrolling in Indian universities, such as Saudi academics participating in the King Abdullah Scholarship program.
In conclusion of Dr. Singh’s visit, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between King Saud University and the Indian Institute of Science (IIS).