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The Study UK Alumni Awards have come and gone, and an extension of congratulations is in order toward the four Saudi Arabian nationals that have exceeded expectations, overtaken challenges, and played their part in representing their country, making us all the prouder of our hard-working achievers, and rejoiceful over their achievements. The four winners are Dr. Abdullah Alotaibi who brought home the “Business and Innovation Award,” Dr. Reham Fakieh, who won the “Social Action Award,” Dr. Muhammad Alzaidi achieved the “Culture and Creativity Award,” and Professor Hani Alhadrami took home the “Science and Sustainability Award.”
The British Council Study UK Alumni Awards are granted to showcase and recognize the outstanding efforts and achievements made by international alumni who attended United Kingdom-based universities, and its effect has produced the opportunity to build relationships between the best and brightest of any participating country at a cultural and educational level, bolstering diplomacy between nations that already enjoy strong relations, ad opening doors between the UK and other countries. Fortunately for Saudi Arabia and the UK, both nations have shared a strategic alliance and take part in a mutually beneficial exchange of business ventures that contribute toward the economy of both countries all of which add up to $17.5 billion in worth, but nonetheless, diplomacy is not a “set it and forget it” kind of effort, and must be nourished and contributed to throughout time to keep relations strong and cultural differences appreciated rather than misunderstood.
The long-term effects of cultural exchanges at a civilian level have historically trickled their way to the top of governing bodies over time, and is a foundation which further development is built upon. In terms of the effect it has had between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, the effect of cultural exchange programs has yielded benefits rather than problems, denoting the proper handling of the process between countries which is demonstrable through programs such as the Study UK Alumni Awards, and the strong relationships that have been built at civil, business, and governmental levels. As recently as February of 2022, museums, films, theater, performing arts, music, literature, publishing, translation, visual arts, architecture, design, and libraries, were all targets between the UK and the KSA Ministers for Culture to strengthen ties and enhance cooperation in all aforementioned areas in the signing of the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that outlines the process of the agreement.
There is no doubt Saudi Arabia has much to offer the world, and the accomplishments rewarded to this year’s winners of the Study UK Alumni Awards yield evidence of that fact, displaying the tenacity, intelligence, dedication, and savvy of its motivated citizenry, and at the end of the day met fruition through the efforts of cultural relations. Though there is always work to be done at a cultural level between countries that harbor completely different ways of life, it’s refreshing to know that, at least between Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom, there are levels of understanding that have already been fostered and all the signs of a bright and fruitful future await.
Prof. Alaa Alghamdi
Saudi Scholar & Writer *